Liz Taylor's Marriage History

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born to American-born parents in London, England on February 27, 1932. She is known for her considerable beauty and exceptional acting skills, and in 1999 was named the seventh of the “Greatest Female Stars of All Times” by the American Film Institute. During World War II, her parents returned to America to settle in Los Angeles. Her father, Francis Taylor, was an art dealer, and her mother, Sara Warmbrodt Taylor, an actress, and they climbed the social ladder in Hollywood with ease. It was through her father’s contacts that she was introduced to Cheever Cowden, chairman of Universal Pictures in 1941; she was signed to a $100-a-week contract that was renewable every six months. Her first, and only, role with Universal Pictures was at nine years old, in There’s One Born Every Minute. Her contract was severed, however, less than six months into her relationship with Universal Studios, when another stockholder argued that “She can’t sing, she can’t dance, she can’t perform.” She was picked up quickly by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and appeared as Priscilla in Lassie Come Home.

With the success for Lassie Come Home, MGM signed Ms. Taylor to a seven-year contract, though her first role was a loan-out to 20th Century Fox as the character of Helen Burrows in Jane Eyre. She then appeared with her friend and co-star of Lassie Come Home, Roddy McDowall, in an MGM picture, The White Cliffs of Dover in 1944. The role, though, that landed Liz Taylor a place with the stars was that of Velvet Brown, a role that she campaigned for and won. National Velvet, starring also Mickey Rooney and Angela Lansbury, was a success, and a star was born, spawning in Liz Taylor a love for acting and a love for horses as well. It is said, however, that an accident during that film may have contributed to back problems she has had throughout her life. Finishing out her adolescent roles were Courage of Lassie, Life With Father, Cynthia, A Date With Judy, Julie Misbehaves, and the character of Mary in Little Women in 1949.

Her first adult character was that of 21-year old debutante Melinda Grayton in The Conspirator who marries a communist spy played by 38-year old Robert Taylor. Elizabeth was only 16 years old. Films to follow were The Big Hangover, Father of the Bride, and Father’s Little Dividend. However, it was A Place in the Sun that would be the second big break for Elizabeth Taylor. The film was acclaimed a “classic” and has withstood many years. Liz was praised for her beauty and performance in the film. Several less satisfying roles were given to her after that as she proceeded to have a family. Films included Callaway Went Thataway, Love Is Better Than Ever, The Girl Who Had Everything, Beau Brummel, Rhapsody, The Last Time I Saw Paris, and the unsatisfying role of Rebecca in Ivanhoe.

In 1956 Liz starred with Rock Hudson and James Dean in Giant, and she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance. Things began to turn her way again, and she was nominated again and again for her performances in Raintree Country; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; and Suddenly, Last Summer. Then, in 1963, she became the highest paid actress up to that time, when she accepted $1 million to star in Cleopatra with Richard Burton. Scandal followed her during the film when she and Burton began an affair and later married. They would go on to costar in many other films including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The VIP’s, The Sandpiper, and The Taming of the Shrew. She also starred in Butterfield 8, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Comedians, and The Only Game in Town. This last film, which was released in 1970, showed some evidence of her lessening popularity.

She has appeared on Broadway and on television, both in television series and as a guest star, and also in made-for-TV movies and mini-series such as North and South. In 2004 she announced she was suffering from congestive heart failure, and she had to appear on Larry King Live in 2006 to prove that she was not, indeed, close to death, as many tabloids claimed that she was. In 2007 Elizabeth appeared on stage once again with James Earl Jones in Love Letters to benefit the AIDS foundation she had created. It was during the Writer’s Strike, but, at her request, it was agreed that the Paramount Lot would not be picketed that night, as she did not wish to cross the picket line.

Probably Elizabeth Taylor, if not best known, is certainly very well known, for her many marriages. In 1950 she married her first husband Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, heir of the Hilton hotels and a business executive. They were married only briefly and divorced in 1951. In 1952 she married Michael Wilding, a successful commercial artist and actor, to whom she had two sons; Michael Howard Wilding and Christopher Edward Wilding. They divorced in January of 1957, two years after the birth of their second child. In February 1957, Liz married Michael Todd, the famous film producer of Around the World in 80 Days. She bore him a daughter in August of that same year, six months after the date of their marriage and seven months after her divorce of Edward Wilding. In March, 1958, a private plane that Todd was flying went down, and all four aboard died, leaving Elizabeth Taylor a widow for the first time. In May 1959, Eddie Fisher, Todd’s best friend, left his wife, Debbie Reynolds, in what became a very public divorce, to marry Liz. Eddie was a singer and performer, and he boasts two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He and Liz had no children together, though he had two children to Reynolds as well as two more children to future wife, Connie Stevens. He and Elizabeth Taylor divorced in March of 1964.

Probably the most scandalous of Elizabeth’s relationships was the one with Richard Burton, her co-star in Cleopatra. The film was one of the most expensive to date, and its long and tedious schedule put the stars together a great deal. Burton was rumored to have been shaky and unsure during his first days of filming, and Liz coaxed him and soothed him, and he called her a “very pretty girl.” They began dating which sent Burton’s wife across seas. America seemed focused on the two stars, and the affair was quite public. The publicity, however, simply brought more attention to the film, and any attention is good attention. The film was a success. The two, however, were unable to marry until their respective marriages were complete; Liz’s on March 6, 1964. They were married March 15, 1964. They divorced in 1974, but remarried in 1975, only fifteen months later. Burton was a reckless playboy and known to drink heavily. They divorced a final time in July, 1976. They had adopted one child, Maria.

In December, 1976, Elizabeth Taylor turned from men of acting and entertainment and married John Warner, a Republican politician who served as Secretary of the Navy and a United States Senator for five terms. They divorced in November of 1982. They had no children. Finally, in 1991, Elizabeth Taylor married her last husband, to date, Larry Fortensky, a former Teamster Liz met while she was being treated at the Betty Ford clinic. They were married at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. They divorced in 1996, and Fortensy has subsequently been jailed for assaulting one of his girlfriends. Elizabeth’s most recent relationship is with industrialist Jason Winters. She has been dating him for approximately five years, and there are no wedding plans in the foreseeable future..

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