Elizabeth Taylor dead at 79, Hollywood mourns

elizabeth-taylor-getty-500.jpgLegendary actress Elizabeth Taylor passed away early Wednesday morning, surrounded by her four children, ABC confirms. Rumors of Liz Taylor's failing health have increased over the last few weeks, so while her death of congestive heart failure may not come as a surprise, it is certainly a tragedy.

Taylor, born February 27, 1932, appeared in her first film at the age of nine after her beauty intrigued the chairman of Universal Pictures in Hollywood. Taylor was well known for her glamorous eyes -- a genetic mutation caused her to have two rows of eyelashes, which combined with her nearly violet irises gave her a striking appearance on and off camera.

She shot to fame at age 12 as Velvet Brown in MGM's "National Velvet." After appearing as Amy in 1949's "Little Women," Taylor began to transition into more adult roles, like the original "Father of the Bride" alongside Spencer Tracy. 

Perhaps her most canonical role was in "A Place in the Sun," though she wasn't nominated for Academy Awards until the late 1950s, when she was nominated for "Raintree Country," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and "Suddenly, Last Summer." She finally won in 1961 for her portrayal of Gloria Wandrous in "Butterfield 8," and again for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in 1967. In 1993 she received the  Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
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Taylor was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2004, and her continued health problems led her to be a virtual recluse in the final years of her life. She was hospitalized in mid-February and closely monitored until the end of her life.

Taylor has been married 8 times to 7 husbands -- she married Richard Burton twice. Toward the end of her life she was rumored to have married a ninth time, to Jason Winters, but she dismissed the claims. 

"My Mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love," son Michael Wilding says in a statement. "Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts."


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