Elizabeth Taylor was one of the most famous actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She captivated audiences with her beauty, acting talent, and tumultuous personal life. Here’s an in-depth look at why Elizabeth Taylor continues to be beloved decades after her passing.
Beauty and Glamour
One of the most obvious reasons for Elizabeth Taylor’s enduring popularity is her incredible beauty. She had striking violet eyes framed by dark lashes and eyebrows. Her glossy raven hair, porcelain skin, and curvaceous figure epitomized Hollywood glamour.
Taylor’s beauty made her a global sensation from a young age. When she was just 12 years old, she starred in the film National Velvet in 1944. Her performance launched her career as a child star. But it was Taylor’s looks that catapulted her to stardom.
The cameras loved Taylor’s face, and so did audiences. She became one of the biggest box office draws of the 1950s. Part of the appeal was the chance to gaze at her beauty on the big screen.
Even as she aged, Taylor maintained her status as a great beauty in films like Cleopatra and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She knew how to play up her best features with makeup, hairstyles, and couture fashions.
Most Iconic Beauty Looks
Taylor showcased many glamorous looks during her decades in the spotlight. Here are three of her most memorable beauty moments:
- National Velvet era – As a young starlet, she wore her dark hair long and curled, with red lipstick on her pouty lips. This innocent yet dazzling look encapsulated her child star beauty.
- Cleopatra era – To play the Queen of Egypt, Taylor’s hair was cut into a short, straight style framed with heavy bangs. Her eyes were dramatically lined in black kohl, and she wore vibrant red lipstick. This bold look communicated Cleopatra’s power and sensuality.
- Giant era – In this film, Taylor’s hair was coiffed in soft curls and her makeup look was more natural, with rose lipstick. The refined hairstyle and makeup complimented the elegant costumes she wore as a wealthy Texan woman.
Taylor’s beauty left a lasting impact on popular culture. She proved that dark haired beauties could be just as glamorous as blonde bombshells. Her makeup looks set trends for heavy eyeliner and red lips. Even today, Taylor is considered one of the most beautiful actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
While Elizabeth Taylor’s beauty may have opened doors, her prodigious acting talent cemented her status as a superstar.
Taylor showed a natural gift for acting from childhood. In National Velvet, she gave a nuanced performance beyond her years as a horse-loving girl. Audiences and critics alike were wowed by her emotive acting chops.
As Taylor matured, so did her acting abilities. She held her own against Hollywood legends like Rock Hudson, James Dean, and Paul Newman. Her acting intensity and depth expanded with dramatic roles in films like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, BUtterfield 8, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Taylor won two Best Actress Academy Awards for BUtterfield 8 in 1960 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966. She had the versatility to pivot between tortured dramas, lighthearted comedies, and big budget epics like Cleopatra.
Her vast acting range is why she remains so respected as a thespian today. Taylor could deliver subtle, nuanced performances or go big with her emotive acting style. She brought authenticity and complexity to every role.
Most Critically Acclaimed Performances
Some of Elizabeth Taylor’s most acclaimed films that demonstrate her talents include:
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) – She scintillates as Maggie the Cat opposite Paul Newman, capturing her desperation and raw sensuality.
- BUtterfield 8 (1960) – Taylor gave a brave, moving performance as Gloria, a troubled woman who struggles with alcohol and her sordid past.
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) – Taylor famously played against type as the bitter, vitriolic Martha. Her intensive acting opposite Richard Burton shocked and impressed critics.
Taylor thrived both in commercial films that relied on her beauty, and in serious dramas that demanded great acting. Her varied, acclaimed body of work keeps her reputation as a talented thespian alive decades after her Hollywood heyday.
Epic Love Life
Elizabeth Taylor’s tumultuous love life also fuels ongoing fascination with the actress. She was married eight times to seven different men throughout her lifetime. Taylor’s romantic exploits filled gossip columns and captivated fans.
Her first marriage was to hotel heir Nicky Hilton in 1950, when Taylor was only 18 years old. Their short, troubled union set the tone for Taylor’s later marriages. She divorced Hilton just months after the lavish wedding.
Some of Taylor’s most famous husbands included film producer Mike Todd (husband #3), singer Eddie Fisher (husband #4), and actor Richard Burton (husband #5 and #6). Her two marriages to Burton were notoriously passionate. Their affair started on the Cleopatra set while both were still married to others.
The ups and downs between Taylor and Burton played out obsessively in the public eye. They married in 1964, divorced in 1974, then amazingly remarried in 1975 only to divorce again the next year. Burton was considered the love of her life, although the relationship was extremely volatile.
Beyond her marriages, Taylor’s alleged affairs with co-stars like Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, and James Dean also raised eyebrows. The press gleefully covered Taylor’s love life scandals and divorces. She lived an extraordinarily lavish lifestyle thanks to her film earnings and savvy business deals.
Taylor’s colorful love life kept her constantly in the public eye. Fans lived vicariously through her real-life soap opera romances. Her larger-than-life passions on and off-screen contributed to her legend.
Fashion Icon Status
Elizabeth Taylor also became a fashion icon known for her glamorous style on and off the silver screen.
In her films, she wore lavish costumes designed to highlight her beauty. The sumptuous outfits in Cleopatra stood out in particular. Off-screen, she partnered with top designers like Halston to create show-stopping gowns for the red carpet.
Taylor helped establish the practice of celebrities working with major fashion brands. She signed a famous deal with Helena Rubinstein in the 1950s to represent the brand’s makeup.
Later in life, Taylor launched her own line of fragrances like “Passion”, which broke records. She was one of the first celebrities to leverage her fame for massive profits in the fashion industry.
Even Taylor’s most casual looks oozed Hollywood glamour. She popularized dressing up jeans with jewels, turbans, and sunglasses. As one of the world’s most photographed women, her style influenced generations.
Taylor loved accessorizing with extravagant jewelry, which emphasized her violet eyes. She amassed an unbelievable collection of diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires from wealthy husbands. Her jewels were so coveted that some were auctioned off for millions after her death.
Everything Taylor wore made a statement. She used fashion as an extension of her film star persona. The daring, ornate clothes Taylor favored became synonymous with old Hollywood allure.
While known for her beauty and tabloid romances, Elizabeth Taylor devoted much of her life to philanthropy. She used her fame to raise awareness and funds for important causes close to her heart.
Taylor served as an early advocate for HIV/AIDS research and support, before most celebrities. Her good friend Rock Hudson’s AIDS-related death in 1985 inspired Taylor to co-found the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). She testified before Congress to urge more research funding when AIDS was still highly stigmatized.
Taylor also worked extensively with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which provides direct care for people living with HIV and AIDS. She organized fundraising initiatives and helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars towards fighting the epidemic.
Outside of her AIDS advocacy, Taylor was also a champion of Israel. She converted to Judaism and raised money for organizations like the Jewish National Fund. Taylor also founded a rehabilitation center in Israel for children suffering from special needs or chronic illness.
Other causes Taylor supported included animal welfare groups like PETA. She used her celebrity might to shine a light on important issues and enact real change. Taylor won numerous humanitarian awards for her philanthropy over the years.
While the glitz of Taylor’s Hollywood lifestyle often made headlines, her charitable initiatives also formed a key part of her legacy. She made a difference for marginalized groups and brought attention to worthy causes.
Elizabeth Taylor epitomized Hollywood royalty in its glamorous heyday. Her cinematic talent, iconic beauty, epic real-life drama, and philanthropic spirit all contributed to her lasting cultural impact. Taylor lived an extraordinarily public life that seemed bigger than life itself.
While the Golden Age of Hollywood ended long ago, Taylor remains immortalized through her films and sheer star power. She forged the template for the modern celebrity – both glorified and scrutinized by the media and public. Even those born decades after Taylor’s passing have been touched by her legacy.
Very few stars today can match the name recognition and admiration Taylor still commands. Images of her violet-eyed splendor continue to be idolized and emulated. Despite the changing tides of Hollywood through the decades, Elizabeth Taylor remains an undisputed queen. Her multidimensional appeal and influence is unlikely to fade over time.
Why was Elizabeth Taylor so famous?
Elizabeth Taylor rose to fame as an actress starting from childhood. She became internationally renowned for her beauty, violet eyes, and acting talent. Taylor starred in classic films like National Velvet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Cleopatra. Her high-profile romantic relationships also kept her in the public eye.
What made Elizabeth Taylor such a fashion icon?
Taylor captivated with her glamorous sense of style on and off screen. She wore sumptuous costumes and forged partnerships with designers.
Taylor helped pioneer the concept of celebrity fashion brands with her own fragrances and makeup line. Her much-photographed style made her a global fashion influencer.
How did Elizabeth Taylor change popular perceptions of beauty?
With her dark hair, violet eyes, and curvaceous figure, Taylor expanded narrow beauty standards of the era.
She helped shift popular notions of beauty beyond just blonde hair and slim figures. Taylor also proved sultry brunette stars could be big box office draws.
Why did Elizabeth Taylor marry so many times?
Taylor was married eight times to seven different husbands throughout her life. Her tumultuous love life was influenced by growing up in the Hollywood limelight.
Taylor struggled to find lasting love under intense public scrutiny. Her shortest marriage was to first husband Nicky Hilton, which ended after just months.
What charitable work was Elizabeth Taylor known for?
Taylor was an early pioneer in raising awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS research, at a time when the disease was highly stigmatized.
She co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research and tirelessly campaigned to fight the epidemic. Taylor also championed many other causes like animal rights and Jewish organizations.