FAQs

Elizabeth

When and where was Dame Elizabeth born?
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932, at 2.30am in Hampstead, North London, England.

For who was Dame Elizabeth named?
Dame Elizabeth was named after both of her grandmothers. Her middle name, Rosemond, was after Elizabeth’s father’s aunt, Mabel Rosemond.

What colour are Dame Elizabeth’s eyes?
Dame Elizabeth possesses probably the most famous eyes of all time, a deep blue/violet, that change colour depending on what she’s wearing.

What is Dame Elizabeth’s religion?

Although Elizabeth was raised a Christian Scientist, she converted to Judaism at Hollywood’s Temple Israel on March 27, 1959. Although she wanted to convert to the Jewish faith while Mike Todd was alive, her desire to do so reached a fever pitch after his tragic death. Elizabeth wrote: “Now, in my steady, gnawing grief for Mike, I felt a desperate need for a formalized religion. I had discovered that I had no way of expressing myself in prayer other than an almost wordless howl to God—’Oh, God, oh God, oh God.’ I wanted something more channeled, more profound, more satisfying.” Elizabeth said she had always felt a connection towards the Jewish faith. “I felt terribly sorry for the suffering of the Jews during the war. I was attracted to their heritage. I guess I identified with them as underdogs.” According to Elizabeth, she “studied for about nine months, went to the temple regularly and converted.” Elizabeth’s Hebrew name is Elisheba Rachel. Elizabeth has always been very proud of her adopted faith—finding great comfort and peace in her adopted religion.

Where did Dame Elizabeth receive her education?
Byron House (Highgate, North London)
Madame Vacani (school of dance; South Kensington, London)
Willard Elementary School (Pasadena)
Hawthorne Elementary School (Beverly Hills)
Universal schoolroom MGM’s Little Red Schoolhouse (Culver City)

Byron House (Highgate, North London)

Is Dame Elizabeth British or American?
There has always been much confusion surrounding the nationality of Dame Elizabeth. Although born in England, her parents were American, so Elizabeth was born with dual citizenship. But early in her career, Elizabeth gave up her British citizenship to prevent paying additional taxes to her native country. However, because of recent changes in the law, Elizabeth again received dual citizenship when she married Michael Wilding in England in 1952. After she married Richard Burton, Elizabeth, by choice, became solely a British citizen, saying: “It is not true that I love America less, but I love my husband more.” After Elizabeth married John Warner, Elizabeth decided to again become an American citizen, but admitted that the process would take several years. It hadn’t been completed by the time rumours swirled that Warner might run for the Senate, which prompted Elizabeth to say: “I couldn’t vote for him anyway. I’m still a British citizen.” Elizabeth, now a Dame of the British Empire, holds both American and British passports.

What ailments did Dame Elizabeth suffer from? Why was she in a wheelchair?
Dame Elizabeth suffered from congestive heart failure, osteoporosis, and back pain caused by scoliosis (double curvature of the spine). “I was born with it, but it has finally caught up with me,” [said] Dame Elizabeth said of the latter in 2004. “My body’s a real mess. If you look at in the mirror, it’s just completely convex and concave. I’ve become one of those poor little old women who’s bent sideways. My X-rays are hysterical. The bone doctors just throw up their hands and say, ‘Sorry, there’s nothing we can do!’ Which is so cheery.” A year later Dame Elizabeth said, “The pain prevents me from doing the things I want to do, and it really irritates me. It’s osteoporosis and scoliosis—a double curvature of the spine—and it can be excruciating. When I go out now, I have to use a wheelchair, which doesn’t dampen my spirits, but I get cheesed off when I can’t just pack a bag and go where I want to.”

Films

How did Dame Elizabeth get her start in show business?
While fleeing war torn England aboard the S.S. Manhattan in 1939, little Elizabeth saw Shirley Temple in The Little Princess and knew then and there her future occupation. “I don’t want to be a movie star,” proclaimed the seven year old. “I want to become an actress.”

Elizabeth on the S.S. Manhattan.

The Taylors were given a letter of introduction to famed gossip columnist Hedda Hopper from their friend, Thelma Cazalet Keir. After making a stop at Francis Taylor’s Los Angeles art gallery, Hopper wrote of her visit in her column. There was a small mention of the future actress, but nothing came of it.

Complete strangers would often suggest that little Elizabeth, who looked like a young Vivien Leigh, should try her luck in pictures. While on a tour of the MGM lot with neighbour and MGM producer John Considine, Jr., studio head Louis B. Mayer wanted Elizabeth to sign a contract with the studio, but, for whatever reason, one was never drawn up. Not long after, Andrea Berens, a client of Francis Taylor’s and fiancée of Universal Pictures chairman and stockholder Cheever Cowdin, eargerly suggested that her fiancée take a look at Elizabeth. The two came to the Taylors house for tea, and Cowdin invited Sara and Elizabeth to come to Universal for a tour, with perhaps a screen test down the line. Soon after, Elizabeth did complete a screen test for Universal, and in April 1941 she was given a six month contract at $100 per week, with an option to renew.

When did Dame Elizabeth make her film debut?
Dame Elizabeth made her film debut in the 1942 Universal picture, There’s One Born Every Minute. It would be her only film for Universal before they dropped her after not knowing what to do with a child who looked older than her years.

When did Dame Elizabeth sign with MGM?
Elizabeth, who would have preferred to have signed with MGM over Universal anyway, would soon have her chance to work for the studio that had “More Stars than there are in the Heavens”. After the option on her contract was not picked up by Universal, MGM producer Sam Marx asked Elizabeth to audition for a role in Lassie Come Home. Marx, who had been an air-raid warden alongside Elizabeth’s father during World War II in Beverly Hills, remembered hearing about the beautiful aspiring actress, and thought she might be a good last minute replacement for the young girl who had grown too tall for the role. Elizabeth won the part, and the rest, as they say, is history.

When and why did Dame Elizabeth leave MGM?
Elizabeth left MGM after she completed BUtterfield 8. The studio system that contractually bound film stars to a particular studio was going out of favour, and Elizabeth wanted to become a freelance actress, able to choose her own films and negotiate her own salaries. Her first film after leaving MGM would, of course, be Cleopatra, one of the most talked about films ever made.

How many movies did Dame Elizabeth make?
Elizabeth appeared in fifty-four theatrical films, and nine television films.

How many times was Dame Elizabeth nominated for an Academy Award and how many times did she win?
Dame Elizabeth was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award five times, for Raintree County; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Suddenly, Last Summer; BUtterfield 8; and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She won for the latter two, and was also presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her AIDS work in 1993.

Of which of her films is Dame Elizabeth most proud?
Dame Elizabeth is most proud of her work in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The runner up is National Velvet; a film she has said mirrored her own life at the time.

Family

Where were Dame Elizabeth’s parents and grandparents born?
Elizabeth’s mother, Sara Viola Warmbodt, was born in Arkansas City, Kansas, as were her parents, Samuel and Anna Warmbrodt. Elizabeth’s father, Francis Lenn Taylor, was born in Springfield, Illinois. His father, a merchant, was from Indiana. Francis’s mother was born in Ohio.

How many times has Dame Elizabeth been married?
Dame Elizabeth Taylor has been married eight times to seven men (she famously married and divorced Richard Burton twice).

Nicky Hilton – May 6, 1950-February 1, 1951 (divorced)
Michael Wilding – February 21, 1952-January 30, 1957 (divorced)
Mike Todd – February 2, 1957-March 22, 1958 (widowed)
Eddie Fisher – May 12, 1959-March 6, 1964 (divorced)
Richard Burton – March 15, 1964-June 26, 1974 (divorced)
Richard Burton – October 10, 1975-August 1, 1976 (divorced)
John Warner – December 4, 1976-November 7, 1982 (divorced)
Larry Fortensky – October 6, 1991-October 31, 1996 (divorced)

Does Dame Elizabeth have any children?
Dame Elizabeth has four children:
Michael Howard Wilding, Jr. (b. January 6, 1953)
Christopher Edward Wilding (b. February 27, 1955)
Elizabeth ‘Liza’ Frances Todd (b. August 6, 1957)
Maria Burton (b. August 1, 1961) (adopted)

Does Dame Elizabeth have any grandchildren or great-grandchildren?
Dame Elizabeth has ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Where are Nicky Hilton, Michael Wilding, Mike Todd, and Richard Burton buried?
Nicky Hilton is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California; Michael Wilding was cremated and his ashes were scattered; Mike Todd is buried at the Walheim Jewish Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois; and Richard Burton is buried at the Protestant Churchyard, Celigny, Switzerland.

AIDS and more

When did Dame Elizabeth help found amfAR? When was The Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation founded? How much has she helped to raise?
Dame Elizabeth founded amfAR alongside several other heroes in the summer of 1985. The Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation was founded in 1992. The two foundations had raised a combined total of $270 million dollars by 2006.

What are the dates that Dame Elizabeth appeared on the covers of: Life, People, Time, Newsweek, Saturday Evening Post, Look, and Esquire magazines?
Life: Dame Elizabeth has appeared on the cover of Life 14 times, more times than any other film star. Covers: July 14, 1947; October 15, 1956; November 4, 1957; April 28, 1961; October 6, 1961; April 13, 1962; April 19, 1963; December 18, 1964; June 10, 1966; February 24, 1967; February 25, 1972; March 1, 1981; February 1, 1992; and April 1, 1997. She was also featured on the cover of Life: In Hollywood, published in 2003 by Life Books.

People: May 19, 1975; March 15, 1976; February 14, 1977; October 23, 1978; October 20, 1980; December 28, 1981; March 15, 1982; October 6, 1986; January 18, 1988; January 25, 1988; December 26, 1988; March 13, 1989; April 9, 1990; October 21, 1991; July 26, 1993; March 4, 1996.

Time: August 22, 1949.

Newsweek: March 25, 1963; June 28, 1999. (Elizabeth and the cast of Life with Father were also on the cover of Newsweek around the time the film was released. Unfortunately I don’t have that issue to confirm the date.)

Saturday Evening Post: June 1, 1963; December 3, 1966; and November 1977.

Look: February 13, 1951; September 11, 1951; August 24, 1954; June 26, 1956; October 14, 1958; April 17, 1960; August 15, 1961; February 27, 1962; May 7, 1963; April 21, 1964; March 9, 1965; February 8, 1966; October 4, 1966; June 27, 1967; and June 16, 1970.

Esquire: April 1952; August 1963; and November 1964.

When did Dame Elizabeth begin her “love affair with jewelry”?
Dame Elizabeth has always loved jewelry, and the first piece she acquired was a gift for her beloved mother. She became a serious collector during her marriage to Mike Todd, who bought her many exquisite pieces, and she has continued collecting ever since, amassing one of the great collections, including such historic pieces as the Krupp diamond, La Peregrina Pearl, The Taylor Burton diamond, and more. For more on Dame Elizabeth’s collection, please click here.

How much did Dame Elizabeth’s wedding to Larry Fortensky cost and who paid for it?
Dame Elizabeth’s wedding to Larry Fortensky cost in excess of $1.5 million dollars. Much of the wedding was planned by Elizabeth’s dear friend Michael Jackson who also paid for the wedding which took place at his Neverland estate.