Elizabeth Taylor, the two-time Oscar-winning actress and ubiquitous symbol of classic Hollywood glamor, died this morning at age 79, ABC news reports. Taylor had been hospitalized for two months to be be treated for symptoms of congestive heart failure. As recently as last week, the Associated Press reported that the actress was in stable condition, and had spent her 79th birthday watching the Academy Awards.
Taylor broke out as a young actress in the 1940s, as the ingenue in films like Lassie Come Home, National Velvet, and Little Women. As her career took off, her sex appeal became undeniable—as did her riveting screen presence. She earned five Academy Award nominations over the course of her career, winning in 1961 for Butterfield 8 and in 1967 for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. In 1993, the Academy awarded her the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her AIDS charity work.
From Giant to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, she starred in some of Hollywood's most memorable, best films. Her role in Cleopatra became a defining moment in the industry, at the time earning her the highest paycheck for an actress in history. The film's production ballooned to an unprecedented budget, and suffered catastrophic setbacks. Critical reception was mixed, and the film—though a box office hit—failed to earn back its enormous investment, permanently altering the old studio system. Taylor's scandalous romance with co-star Richard Burton grabbed headlines in unseen ways and brought new levels of media interest to Hollywood romance and gossip.
She became known in her later years for eccentric behavior: a friendship with Michael Jackson, a daffy appearance at the 2001 Golden Globes, multiple marriages. But she also became heavily involved in charity work, most notably raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, following the death of her friend Rock Hudson.
ABC News singles out a memorable quote from her last interview:
Taylor's last major interview appeared in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar. In it, she dished to reality TV star Kim Kardashian about her love life, her iconic roles and her jewels.
"I never planned to acquire a lot of jewels or a lot of husbands," Taylor said. "I have been supremely lucky in my life in that I have known great love, and of course, I am the temporary custodian of some incredible and beautiful things."
Taylor also mused about one of her former husbands, actor Richard Burton.
"It was inevitable that we would be married again, but it's not up for discussion," she said.
Here, Paul Newman narrates a tribute to Taylor that aired on Turner Classic Movies:
Read the full story at ABC News.