Elizabeth Taylor would have turned 80 today – she passed away in March of last year, which was way too early if you ask me. I first fell in love with Dame Taylor in high school when I watched her play the feisty, compassionate, independent, feminine character Leslie in the flick Giant with James Dean and Rock Hudson. She was ridiculously beautiful, sure, but I remember thinking: She seems like a modern-day, strong woman, even back then. She seemed fun. It wasn’t until a little bit later when I started reading about Elizabeth Taylor that I realized she was just like that character: ballsy, fun, bawdy and sweet. She was a real dame.
Some people might just know her as the lady who loved diamonds, got married eight times (twice to Richard Burton), and was BFFs with Michael Jackson. Or as that older actress who seemed a little loopy at the Golden Globes a few years ago. I hope people remember her as much, much more than that – because she was.
So in that spirit, here are some fun facts about Dame Taylor that I hope will make you love her as much as I do – I like to think of her as a down-to-earth diva and man, would it have been fun to go to happy hour with her! Ah well… we’ll always have her movies.
- She didn’t like being called Liz and joked that her tombstone would say, “Here lies Elizabeth. She hated being called Liz.”
- She was born in England – take that Madonna!
- She loved her Maltese dogs and made sure they were comfy on their very own silk cushions.
- She once saved her BFF Montgomery Clift’s life when he was in a car wreck. She was the only one brave enough to climb into the wrecked car, see that he was choking on teeth (gross I know) and pull them out. Go Elizabeth!
- She converted to Judaism for third hubby Mike Todd and called herself a “nice Jewish girl” the rest of her life.
- Elizabeth and Richard Burton’s affair was condemned by the Vatican and called Le Scandale by paparazzi. They were in the tabloids more than Branjelina and Charlie Sheen combined.
- News of the Taylor-Burton affair knocked John Glenn’s trip to the moon off the front page of some papers – oops!
- Richard once cutely said: “I introduced Elizabeth to beer, she introduced me to Bulgari.”
- She transformed herself into a dowdy, middle-aged shrew to play Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and she was still a beautiful young woman. She was the Christian Bale of her time.
- Between her (2) marriages to Burton, Elizabeth tried being a politician’s wife when she wed a conservative senator. Later she said: “It was one of the most boring experiences I’ve ever had. I found it so difficult to keep my mouth shut.”
- She was the very first celeb to speak out about HIV/AIDS – seriously EVER – and she got a lot of hate mail for her outspoken support. Nowadays it’s not surprising when someone speaks out about HIV/AIDS but at the time Elizabeth did a very brave thing and she didn’t give a damn if people criticized her.
- In the 80s she was on General Hospital for a while – you can watch her giggly outtakes on YouTube – it’ll make you love her all the more.
- When Maggie Simpson says her first word – “Daddy” – on The Simpsons, guess who did the voice? The legendary, Oscar winning Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
- She went cage diving with sharks when she was 74 years old and in a wheelchair.
So happy birthday to a great lady. She wasn’t perfect, but who is?! Go out and watch her movies and celebrate a down to earth diva on what would have been her 80th bday!
Feature image via.