The Edit

Elizabeth Taylor, an inspiration and an icon

Art and culture
Elizabeth Taylor lived a life fueled by love and passion to become one of the most iconic and influential women of the 20th century. Renowned for her independent spirit, enduring strength and unwavering compassion, here’s how she captured the hearts of millions.

With striking beauty and undeniable talent, Elizabeth Taylor captivated audiences. Starting out as a child actor, she achieved fame by starring in National Velvet. As an unforgettable leading lady, she played legendary female characters who embodied strength, integrity, and unapologetic femininity. Her career, which spanned six decades, earned her five Oscar nominations and two Best Actress wins for BUtterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Along with her singular talent, Elizabeth was a savvy businesswoman. Her instinctive sense of her own worth led her to negotiate the first $1 million dollar contract for an actor for her role in Cleopatra, a deal she sealed whilst staying at The Dorchester. She was also the first celebrity to launch a fragrance empire, including the iconic White Diamonds perfume, and became the first female social entrepreneur.

From the mid-1980s until her death in 2011, Elizabeth’s greatest role was that of activist. As ignorance, fear and prejudice fuelled the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic, Elizabeth used her celebrity platform to expose the injustice of society’s response to the disease. Her unyielding conviction and passion helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars, changed hearts and minds, and saved countless lives. She co-founded amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, in 1985 and established ETAF, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, in 1991 to help the most marginalised populations affected by HIV/AIDS. Today, ETAF carries forward Elizabeth’s mission.

Throughout her life, Elizabeth possessed an abiding will to survive in the face of personal tragedy and an extraordinary capacity for love. She was married eight times to seven men, and her greatest joy in life was her family of four children, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Elizabeth believed that a well-chosen perfume is an essential accessory. In 1987, she decided to blend her love of fine fragrances with her entrepreneurial spirit by releasing her first perfume, Passion, which was an instant success. Today, Elizabeth’s record-breaking, award-winning perfume empire continues with 16 different scents, including the iconic White Diamonds.

She received many awards in recognition and honour of her charity work, including the Légion d’honneur, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 65th Academy Awards. In 2000, HM Queen Elizabeth II named her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She proudly declared this day to be, “the most exciting day of my life.” She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from AFI (American Film Institute) and earned the number seven spot on their list of Greatest Female Film Legends.

Today, through the work of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and House of Taylor, her legacy continues. They are dedicated to preserving her vision for a kinder, more courageous world. A unique life of extraordinary experiences and uncompromising determination, Elizabeth Taylor has certainly left a lasting legacy.

To follow in the famous footsteps of this leading lady and pioneering activist, stay with us at two of her favourite places, The Harlequin Penthouse at The Dorchester and Bungalow 5 at The Beverly Hills Hotel.

Image courtesy of Cecil Beaton and Olivia Lopez