Feb. 27: Actress and "Singer" Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on this date in 1932...

... she died on March 23, 2011.

Beginning as a child star then throughout her adulthood, Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor became known for her acting talent, glamour and beauty; as well as a much publicized private life, which included eight marriages, several near-death experiences, and decades spent as a social activist, championing the cause of AIDS awareness, research and cure.

Taylor, a two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress, is considered one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. The American Film Institute named Taylor seventh on its Female Legends list.

Taylor was not known as a singer, but she was credited for "singing " in at least two movies, A Little Night Music and "A Date With Judy,"although it's possible her voice was dubbed.
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in Hampstead Garden Suburb, a northwestern suburb of London. Her parents were Americans residing in England. Her parents were originally from Arkansas City, Kansas.

Francis Taylor was an art dealer, and Sara was a former actress whose stage name was "Sara Sothern." Sothern retired from the stage when she and Francis married in 1926 in New York City. Taylor's two first names are in honor of her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Mary (Rosemond) Taylor.

A dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States, she was born a British subject through her birth on British soil and an American citizen through her parents.
At the age of three, Taylor began taking ballet lessons.

Shortly before World War II, her parents decided to return to the United States, settling in Los Angeles, California, where her father established a new art gallery including many paintings from England. The gallery attracted Hollywood celebrities.

Some of her mother's friends urged her to have Elizabeth screen tested for the role of Bonnie Blue, Scarlett's child in Gone with the Wind, then being filmed. Her mother refused, but soon, both Universal and MGM pursued her, with Universal giving her a seven-year contract.

Taylor appeared in her first motion picture at the age of nine in There's One Born Every Minute in 1942, her only film for Universal. After less than a year, the studio fired Taylor for unknown reasons. Some speculate that there was something slightly odd about Elizabeth's looks, even at this age - an expression that sometimes made people think she was older than she was.

Then MGM offered her a long-term contract at the beginning of 1943 and quickly casted her in Lassie Come Home. After her performance received favorable reviews MGM signed Taylor to a  seven-year contract at $100 a week but increasing at regular intervals until it reached $750 during the seventh year.

Her first assignment under her new contract at MGM was a loan-out to 20th Century Fox for the character of Helen Burns in a film version of the Charlotte Brontë novel Jane Eyre. Elizabeth then returned to MGM to film The White Cliffs of Dover in England.

It was Taylor's persistence in seeking the role of Velvet Brown in MGM's National Velvet, however, that made her a star at the age of 12. Taylor's character is a young girl who trains her beloved horse to win the Grand National. National Velvet, costarring fellow child actor Mickey Rooney and English newcomer Angela Lansbury, became a big success upon its release in December 1944. However, the film caused many of her later back problems due to her falling off a horse during filming.

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National VelvetA Place in the SunBUtterfield 8

After the success of Velvet, Taylor was cast in another animal film, Courage of Lassie, which led to another contract for Taylor paying her $750 per week. Her roles as Mary Skinner in a loan-out to Warner Brothers' Life With Father, Cynthia Bishop in Cynthia, Carol Pringle in A Date with Judy, and Susan Prackett in Julia Misbehaves were all successful.

Taylor received a reputation as a consistently successful adolescent star, with a nickname of "One-Shot Liz" (referring to her ability to shoot a scene in one take) and a promising career.

Her portrayal as Amy, in the American classic Little Women was her last adolescent role. In October 1948, Taylor appeared in Conspirator, her first adult role. Her first box office success in an adult came as Kay Banks in the romantic comedy Father of the Bride. She soon followed with A Place In The Sun which became the pivotal performance of Taylor's career according to many film critics.

Taylor would go on to win two Academy Awards for Best Actress for her performance in Butterfield 8 in 1960, and for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966. She was also awarded the Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Academy Award in 1992 for her work fighting AIDS.

On May 16, 2000, in a ceremony held at Buckingham Palace, Taylor was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. On December 5, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted Taylor into the California Hall of Fame.

In February 2011, symptoms related to congestive heart failure caused her to be admitted into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for treatment, where she remained until her death at age 79 on March 23, 2011. She died surrounded by her four children.


Rest in Peace