The 69.42-carat Taylor Burton diamond, the 33.19 carat Krupp Diamond, fabulous 5-carat natural pearl La Peregrina, emeralds, rubies and the world’s most fabulous jewels adorned her but never out-shown her: Elizabeth Taylor was a style icon to remember. She died today at the age on 79 of congestive heart failure. The star of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “National Velvet,” “Cleopatra,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” she was as famous for her blinding beauty and passionate love life as for her work.
She famously had eight marriages and seven husbands but she is forever associated with Richard Burton, who she married twice and who showered her with some of the world’s most beautiful jewels. In later life, she founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research, fighting the stigma against the disease with her considerable star power.
In an interview by Kim Kardashian in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar, she said: “I never planned to acquire a lot of jewels or a lot of husbands. For me, life happened, just as it does for anyone else. I have been supremely lucky in my life in that I have known great love, and of course I am the temporary custodian of some incredible and beautiful things. But I have never felt more alive than when I watched my children delight in something, never more alive than when I have watched a great artist perform, and never richer than when I have scored a big check to fight AIDS. Follow your passion, follow your heart, and the things you need will come.”
Perhaps the first tabloid star, as her love life and addiction to painkillers were covered extensively in the gossip press, Elizabeth Taylor was also undeniably, a real movie star, the kind they don’t make anymore. In contrast to actresses today who walk the red carpet in borrowed finery, Elizabeth Taylor truly owned the jewels she wore, just as she owned the screen every time the camera turned its gaze on her.