RIP: Dame Elizabeth Taylor

Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Jr. and Elizabeth Taylor

Dame Elizabeth Taylor passed away today from congestive heart failure.  I was stunned to hear that her 205 day first marriage to Conrad “Nicky” Hilton. Jr. (Paris Hilton’s great-uncle) had been emotionally and physically abusive.    According to People Magazine, she said in her 1988 autobiography Elizabeth Takes Off on Self-Esteem and Self-Image that during their honeymoon he:

. . .became sullen, angry and abusive, physically and mentally.

In her obituary, the Washington Post reported her reflections on this marriage:

I’ve been able to wear plunging necklines since I was 14 years old, and ever since then, people have expected me to act as old as I look.  My troubles all started because I have a woman’s body and a child’s emotions.

She passed away 53 years and one day after Mike Todd, perhaps her most beloved husband, was killed in a plane crash.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra

I was a very impressionable freshman in high school when Cleopatra was released.  The drama of her marriages to her “soul mate” Richard Burton enthralled me.  And, those diamonds.  OMG.

Elizabeth Taylor. . .on every level, was a mensch.  Kind, generous, brave, and loyal.

– Jane Fonda 

Dame Elizabeth Taylor Was a Survivor

Dame Taylor hated being called “Liz.”  She was hospitalized over 70 times during her lifetime.  The New York Times in their obituary called her a “survivor:”

In a lifetime of emotional and physical setbacks, serious illnesses and accidents, and several near-death experiences, Ms. Taylor was a survivor.  “I’ve been lucky all my life,” she said just before turning 60.  “Everything was handed to me. Looks, fame, wealth, honors, love.  I rarely had to fight for anything.  But I’ve paid for that luck with disasters.”  At 65, she said on the ABC program “20/20”:  “I’m like a living example of what people can go through and survive.  I’m not like anyone.  I’m me.”

We have just lost a Hollywood giant.

More importantly, we have lost an incredible human being.

Elton John

Dame Elizabeth Taylor Was a Loyal Friend and Fierce Advocate

After her friend and co-star Rock Hudson was infected with AIDS, she became a fierce advocate for those with the disease.  Her work garnered a special Oscar in 1993:  the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.  She asked the audience to join her quest:

I call upon you to draw from the depths of your being ~ to prove that we are a human race, to prove that our love outweighs our need to hate, that our compassion is more compelling than our need to blame.

I’ve been through it all, baby.  I’m Mother Courage.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor with her children on her 75th birthday

Dame Taylor is survived by her sons Michael and Christopher Wilding; her daughters Liza Todd-Tivey and Maria Burton-Carson; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.  Her son Michael Wilding issued a statement:

My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humour, and love.

The most extensive 0n-line obituary was posted today by MSNBC.  If you click on the links in this post, you will find extensive international coverage of Dame Taylor’s life and legend.

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