Violet eyes, lovely black hair and that sculptural figure
bedecked in diamonds. These are just some of the
thoughts that come to mind when one thinks of Elizabeth
Born Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor on February 27th, 1932 in
London, England, Elizabeth grew from a popular child star to
become one of the silver screen's most striking beauties, as
well as a compelling actress. She received five Oscar
nominations for Best Actress and won two Oscars over
the course of an amazing career that spanned six
Of all the sparkling accomplishments of her career, the
activity of which she was the most proud was her
unceasing humanitarian work. Perhaps no entertainer is
more synonymous with any particular cause than Ms. Taylor
with AIDS research.
While some big names and celebrities periodically make
appearances or donations for various causes, Elizabeth
Taylor made this cause the centerpiece of her life.
Considering all the physical ailments she endured
during her life, it is little wonder that she empathized
with those afflicted by illness.
Her work to raise awareness and funds for AIDS research
raised millions of dollars and most certainly saved hundreds
, if not thousands of lives. In 1992, the Academy of Motion
Pictures Arts & Sciences honored her with the Jean Hersholt
Humanitarian Award, which is given to "an individual in the
motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have
brought credit to the industry." Even though she
battled various health concerns through the years, she
continued to be active in her fight against the deadly
Ms. Taylor would speak publicly about her growing
frustration over what she considered to be "complacency"
over societies attitude towards AIDS.
"We are doing everything in our power to find a cure," she
said. "It is the most powerful thing in my life and I
will fight until there is a cure. We are not asleep
behind the wheel. We are working our tails off with
love and dedication. It might seem that we can relax
and resume business as usual, but this progress, gained at
such great cost...is precisely why now is not the time to
At a benefit, Ms. Taylor enlisted many of her famous friends
to join her in Cannes for her AIDS foundation. As she
put it to them, "We need you. And your cash.
It's just money - if not to make the world a little better,
then what is it for?"
It's been twenty years since her crusade of activism began,
and while much progress has been made, Ms. Taylor observed
that we are still far from finding a cure. "It is sad
and sobering," she said.
In addition to her benefit events, Ms. Taylor also spent
quite a bit of time lobbying for AIDS research. In
1996 she went to Washington and personally asked Newt
Gingrich to "open the federal checkbook" for funding and
think it's the only reason to have fame -
if you can use it to do somebody some good."
It was this kind of dedication that helped the American
Foundation for AIDS Research to raise more than $170 million
since 1985. Perhaps in many ways Ms. Taylor's legacy
of humanitarianism will prove to be far greater than
anything she did on the silver screen.