Dame Elizabeth Taylor Dies at Age 79

Entertainment Mar. 23, 2011 AT 9:34AM
Dame Elizabeth Taylor Dies at Age 79 Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

Hollywood has lost one of its brightest stars.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor died at Cedars-Sinai hospital in L.A. Wednesday. She was 79.

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"She was surrounded by her children -- Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd, and Maria Burton," her publicist said of the star, who suffered congestive heart failure six weeks ago and had been ailing ever since.

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The movie icon is survived by four children, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Born in Hempstead, England, the legendary beauty (famous for her violet eyes) debuted on the big screen in 1942's There's One Born Every Minute, and became a tween star two years later at age 12 in National Velvet. Her most notable roles included Father of the Bride, A Place in the Sun, Giant and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. On her mantle are two Best Actress Oscars (for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Butterfield 8), plus a Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Academy Award for her tireless, early work fighting the AIDS epidemic. (Taylor grieved the early HIV-related death of movie star pal Rock Hudson in the 1980s).

PHOTOS: Elizabeth Taylor's many marriages

In 1999, the British-born star was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In her heyday, Taylor was as closely watched as stars like Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez -- and her love life was endlessly followed in the press.

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She was famously married to seven different men throughout her life: Conrad Hilton from 1950 to 1951, Michael Wilding from 1952 to 1957, Mike Todd from 1957 to 1958, actor Eddie Fisher from 1959 to 1964, John Warner from 1976 to 1982, and Larry Fortensky from 1991 to 1996. Many would say that the love of her life, however, was actor Richard Burton, to whom she was married twice (from 1964 to 1974, and from 1975 to 1976).

Taylor was also one of the first celebrity moguls, who used her star power to market hugely successful jewelry and fragrance lines.

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Her final interview was in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar (where cover girl Kim Kardashian recreated Taylor's Cleopatra look from the 1963 film).

"I never planned to acquire a lot of jewels or a lot of husbands," Taylor said. "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."

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Speaking to Us Weekly in 2010, Taylor revealed more about her storied life.

"Before I made films, I had a lemonade stand in Southern California," she said. "I didn't go on a date until I was 16. I never tried to act until A Place in the Sun...I believe you can be close to God anywhere. My family and people with HIV/AIDS are my life."

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