The film star Elizabeth Taylor, who has died of heart failure aged 79, was in the public eye from the age of 11 and remained there even decades after her last hit movie. She managed to keep people fascinated, by her incandescent beauty, her courage, her open-natured character, her self-deprecating humour, her eight marriages (two of them to the actor Richard Burton), her many brushes with death, her seesawing weight, her diamonds and her humanitarian causes, all of which often obscured the reason why she was famous in the first place – she had a tantalising screen presence, in films including A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956), Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Butterfield 8 (1961), Cleopatra (1963) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Taylor was born in Hampstead, north London, of American parents. Her mother, Sara, was a former stage actor and her father, Francis, an art dealer. As soon as she could walk she was given ballet lessons, and at the age of three she danced with her class in front of the royal family. In 1939, a few months before the outbreak of war, the family moved to Hollywood, where her father opened an art… Read full this story
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