Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in London, England on February 27, 1932. Although she was born an English subject, her parents were American art dealers from St. Louis, Missouri. Her father had gone to London to set up a gallery. Her mother had been an actress on the stage, but gave up that vocation when she married. Elizabeth lived in London for the first seven years of her life before the family left when the dark clouds of war began brewing in 1939. The family sailed without her father who stayed behind to wrap up loose ends of the art business. The family relocated to Los Angeles, California where Mrs. Taylor's own family had moved. Mr. Taylor followed not long afterward.
A family friend noticed the beautiful little Elizabeth and suggested that she be taken for a screen test. She passed and was signed to a contract with Universal Studios. Her first foray onto the silver screen was in the film, called a short, THERE'S ONE BORN EVERY MINUTE released in 1942 when she was ten. Universal let the contract drop after the one film and Elizabeth was picked up by M-G-M. The first production she made with them was LASSIE COME HOME (1943). On the strength of that one film, M-G-M signed her to a full year. Her next two films were minuscule parts in 1944, THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER and JANE EYRE. The former was on a loan to Fox Studios.
She was 22 and, now, a beautiful young woman. In 1956, Elizabeth appeared in the hit GIANT with James Dean. Sadly, Dean never saw the release of the film as he died in a car accident in 1955. The next year saw Elizabeth star in RAINTREE COUNTY, an overblown film made, partially, in Kentucky. Despite the shortcomings of the film, Elizabeth was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Southern belle, Susanna Drake. Unfortunately for her, the honor went to Joanne Woodward for THE THREE FACES OF EVE on Oscar night. In 1958, Elizabeth starred as Maggie Pollitt, in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. The film received rave reviews from the critics and Elizabeth was nominated again for another Academy Award for best actress losing, this time, to Susan Hayward in I WANT TO LIVE. She was a hot commodity in the film world.
In 1959, she again appeared in another mega-hit and again another nomination for SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER. And once again, she lost to Simone Signoret in ROOM AT THE TOP. Her Oscar drought ended in 1960 when Elizabeth landed the coveted honor at last. As Gloria Wandrous in BUTTERFIELD 8, Elizabeth performed flawlessly in the role of a call-girl who is involved with a married man and who later dies in an auto accident. There were to be no films for Elizabeth for three years, she had left M-G-M after her contract ran out.
In 1963, Elizabeth starred in CLEOPATRA which was one of the most expensive productions to date as was her salary, said to be a whopping $1,000,000. This was also the film where she would meet her future and fifth husband, Richard Burton. (The previous four were, Conrad Hilton, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd (who died in a plane crash), and Eddie Fisher). Her next handful of films were lackluster at best. Elizabeth was to return to fine form with her role of Martha in 1966's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? The role as a loudmouth unkempt woman easily was her finest personal performance to date. For this she would win her second Oscar and one that was more than well-deserved.
Her films afterward didn't approach the intensity of that one. Since then she has appeared in several films, both for the silver screen and television. She also has appeared on a number of TV programs. Her last film to date was 1994's THE FLINTSTONES. In February 1997, Elizabeth entered the hospital for the removal of a brain tumor. The operation was successful. As for her private life, she divorced Burton in 1974, only to remarry him in 1975 and divorce, permanently, in 1976. She has had two husbands since, Senator John Warner and Larry Fortensky.