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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 March, 2003, 11:07 GMT
Liz Taylor retires from acting
Elizabeth Taylor
Taylor's charity work has grossed almost as much money as her film career
Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor retired from acting at the 75th Academy Awards.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor, 71, said a few days earlier that she was giving up on showbusiness for good to dedicate herself to Aids activism.

Dame Elizabeth is part of Hollywood royalty, having starred in more than 70 films in a career spanning five decades.

The eight-times married star has won the best actress Oscar twice along with some 5,000 other movie accolades.

Whether it be her battle with her weight or ill-health, her numerous marriages or her friendship with pop superstar Michael Jackson, she has rarely been out of the headlines.

Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson
Elizabeth Taylor counts Michael Jackson among her best friends

She was spotted by Hollywood studio executives when she was just 10 and in 1942 was cast in her first movie - There's One Born Every Minute.

In the decade that followed she shot to fame as the 12-year-old star of the showjumping movie National Velvet after signing to MGM on a contract that was to last until the early 1960s.

In her personal life she blossomed early too, beginning a string of high-profile relationships by first dating millionaire Howard Hughes at the age of 17.

She married hotelier Nicki Hilton before she was 18, followed by actor Michael Wilding and showman Mike Todd, who later died in a plane crash.

The great love of her life, though, was fellow actor Richard Burton.
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

The two met on the set of Cleopatra and they married in 1964 within ten days of Elizabeth divorcing her fourth husband Eddie Fisher.

For the next decade the good-looking duo travelled the world and became two of the world's best-loved celebrities.

But the marriage was also highly volatile. After several well-publicised separations, reconciliations, a divorce and remarriage they finally redivorced for good in 1976.

Dame Elizabeth subsequently married another two men - Senator John Warner and truck driver Larry Fortensky.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Dame Elizabeth was one of the most popular and prolific actresses of the day, starring in classics like Giant with James Dean, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Paul Newman, and Cleopatra.

In 1960, she won a Best Actress Oscar for her part in Butterfield 8. Her second Oscar came in 1966, for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor wearing the famous 69.42 carat diamond bought for her by Richard Burton

As her film roles dwindled in the 1980s, she used her fame to promote cosmetics and raise millions of dollars for Aids research.

She also became more visible on TV, starring in several films made for the small screen, including the American civil war mini-series North And South.

Dame Elizabeth is probably best known now for her campaign for Aids research.

She became the celebrity face of the crusade against Aids after the death of her close friend Rock Hudson.

Kick-started by a cheque for $250,000 from Rock Hudson's estate, in 1985 she formed the Aids Project Los Angeles and hosted a dinner that raised $1m for research.

She then discovered a woman in New York, Dr Mathilde Krim, who was attempting to do the same thing. The two joined forces to form The American Foundation for Aids Research (AmFAR).

The Foundation's activities soon became international, with Elizabeth Taylor as its chair. She attends all its main meetings.

Her charity work has now grossed almost as much as her film career.


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