Elizabeth Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 in Hampstead, London. Her parents were both from the United States, but were vacationing in London at the time of her birth. Her father worked as an art dealer and his mother had been a stage actress.
When World War 2 started, Elizabeth moved back to the United States with her mother. There, they were eventually joined by her father, who had to finish up some business deals. They decided to settle in Los Angeles, where Hollywood was enjoying its reign over motion pictures.
When she was nine years old, she was given a very small role in 1942's "There's One Born Every Minute". This was her first role in a motion picture and Universal decided to let her contract expire, after which she signed with MGM studios. In 1943, she was given a supporting role in that studio's "Lassie Come Home", a story about a collie who is sold to a nobleman, only to find its way back to its original owner.
In 1944, she was given the starring role in the film "National Velvet". The film was based on a novel by Enid Bagnold and told the story of a girl who tries to win a horse racing championship. The movie ended up being a massive success and generated over four million dollars in box office revenue. After this massive success, she was given a long term contract with MGM.
In 1949, she received another important role in the film "Little Women". The film was based on a novel written by Louisa May Alcott about a family of young girls growing up during the United States Civil War. It was another hit and generated about four million dollars in box office sales.
In 1950, she starred in the film "Father of the Bride", alongside Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett. The film was a great success and solidified her acting career as an adult. In 1951, she starred in "A Place in the Sun", a film about a love triangle between two women and a man connected by a factory.
As a young actress, she did not live a life typical of most teenagers. She was privately tutored on the studio lot and received a special diploma on January 26, 1950. She also married at the age of eighteen to Conrad Hilton Jr., an heir to the Hilton hotel empire. However, their marriage did not last very long and they divorced in early 1951.
In 1956, she headlined the epic film "Giant" alongside Rock Hudson and James Dean. In the film, she portrayed the wife of a Texas rancher and oil tycoon, as well as the love interest of a ranch hand-come-millionaire played by James Dean. The film was a massive success and received a massive number of Academy Award nominations.
In 1958, she starred alongside Paul Newman in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". The film was derived from a play with the same name and was a smash hit at the box office. Critics also loved the film and it was nominated for numerous Academy Awards, with Elizabeth being nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
In 1960, she starred in the film "Butterfield 8", in which she played a promiscuous model. In the film, she becomes concerned that her careless sexual affairs will make her something of a prostitute, but then falls in love with one of her one night stands, played by Laurence Harvey. She was nominated for and won the Academy Award for Best Actress that year.
In 1963, Elizabeth was given her most famous role in Walter Wanger's remake of the film "Cleopatra". Budgeted at an unthinkable $44 million, the film remains the most expensive film of all time. Although the movie was a massive success and raked in $23 million, it was not nearly enough to cover the extravagant budget. According to studio accounting, the film has yet to make enough revenue to completely cover the cost.
In 1966, she starred in the film "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" as a wife in an unhappy marriage. Her husband was played by Richard Burton and the two had great screen chemistry, producing a riveting performance that made the film a smash hit. It was nominated for every eligible category at that year's Academy Awards and Elizabeth won the Best Actress award.
Elizabeth continued acting throughout the 1970s, with a few minor appearances since 1980. Since then, she has been involved in eight different marriages, all ending in divorce or widowing. She has also worked towards financing AIDS research, helping to raise over $50 million in funds.
In 2004, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and has since led a very reclusive life. She has survived many ailments, including a brain tumor, five spinal fractures, skin cancer, and pneumonia, but is now confined to a wheelchair.