Elizabeth Taylor: Hollywood Legend, Pioneering AIDS Activist

Linda Sharps

Today Hollywood has lost one of its most famous icons. Elizabeth Taylor, Oscar-winning actress and devoted AIDS activist, has died at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Hospital. She was 79.

Taylor had been hospitalized six weeks ago for congestive heart failure, and although she had suffered a number of complications, she had recently stabilized. According to her publicist, Taylor's passing was peaceful, and she died surrounded by her four children.

The world knows Elizabeth Taylor not only for her impressive film career and tumultuous love life, but for the activist role she took on in 1985 when her lifelong friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS.

Her legacy encompasses much more than films, thanks to the amazing work she's done on behalf of AIDS-related charities and fundraising.

Elizabeth Taylor rose over the years from child star to Hollywood's biggest actress. Her unusual violet eyes (with double lashes!) mesmerized filmgoers, and she starred in over 50 movies throughout her career—winning two Oscars along the way, for Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Taylor is also credited with bringing the world's attention to AIDS, starting in the '80s when she was one of the first public voices to speak up about the health crisis. She said it was satisfying to her to use her celebrity for good, and raised and donated millions to the cause, founding the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

By 1999, she had helped to raise an estimated $50 million to fight the disease.

Even in recent years while she was battling poor health, she never ceased in her advocacy work for AIDS research. From testifying on Capitol Hill to lobbying politicians for research money, Taylor spent decades fighting for the cause.

Her family and her foundation ask that if you want to honor the memory of Elizabeth Taylor, you can do so by making a contribution in her name to the foundation, or by posting a personal message on this Facebook page.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth Taylor. A true legend and humanitarian.

Image via Flickr/twm1340

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