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Black Tie International: Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor
"From Silver Screen to Charity Queen"
By:  Joyce Brooks



elizabeth_taylor
Black Tie International  - Volume 1,  Issue 2

Elizabeth Taylor
1932 - 2011

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 Taylor.

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 decades.

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 disease.

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 turn back."

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 research.
 I 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.

 

Joyce Brooks

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