Elizabeth Taylor Proposed to an Actor 20 Years Her Senior & Replaced Him with 25-Year Older Man
Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Taylor was not only known for her scandalous love life but her acting roles in films like "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Butterfield 8," as well.
Actress Elizabeth Taylor made her acting debut in "One Born Every Minute" (1942) and rose to stardom with 1944's "National Velvet."
Though she won Academy Awards for her work in "Butterfield 8" (1960) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Taylor was just as famous for her several marriages and extensive jewelry collection.
(L) British actors Michael Wilding and Elizabeth Taylor pictured all smiles wearing coats in 1952. (R) Elizabeth Taylor holds a press conference with her third husband, stage producer Mike Todd. / Source: Getty Images
A WOMAN WITH EMOTIONS OF A CHILD
The violet-eyed beauty started in show business from a young age and knew early on how different her persona in front of the camera was from her authentic self.
For that fact, Taylor had to grow up fast because she always wanted to be a woman, even before reaching the legal stage. The British American once revealed:
“I had a small waist which I’d squeeze even smaller, knowing that it accentuated my bust and hips. I flaunted an hourglass figure at a stage when most girls were still developing.”
Elizabeth Taylor speaks onstage during the 25th Anniversary celebration gala for Macy's Passport at Santa Monica Airport's Barker Hangar on September 27, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images
At the age of seventeen, Taylor got cast in "Conspirator" alongside one of MGM's biggest stars Robert Taylor who was 38 years old then and was twice her age.
The child star began doing passionate loves scenes "with a man old enough to be my father." Moreover, Taylor had to juggle school with her acting career and fit in three hours of lessons before 3 in the afternoon.
That drove her to insanity because on some afternoons; her teacher would walk out on the set, grab her from the actor's arms, and say: "Sorry, Elizabeth hasn't finished her schoolwork," the "Cleopatra" star explained, adding:
“Talk about humiliating.”
With that experience, Taylor learned how to perfect her screen image and sought to find an area where she could comfortably transition into as an independent adult.
Newlyweds Elizabeth Taylor and Conrad Hilton Jr., pictured at the Church of the Good Shepherd after their nuptials in 1950. / Source: Getty Images
She soon realized that her only way out was through marriage. "That seemed the only way I could experience life for myself and, perhaps most important of all, discover my sexuality," said Taylor.
In setting her plan into motion, she married Nick Hilton, the son of Conrad Hilton, a prominent hotelier. She was eighteen, and he was 23, and the couple walked down the aisle on May 6, 1950.
But their union was short-lived because when they sailed for the South of France aboard the Queen Mary, Taylor realized that she had made a mistake.
Elizabeth Taylor photographed with Conrad Hilton Jr. in a booth at the El Morocco nightclub. / Source: Getty Images
Unable to deal with her celebrity status, she revealed that her new husband "became sullen, angry and abusive, physically and mentally."
Hilton started drinking and taunted his new wife in public, and soon enough, their honeymoon and relationship were both over by the time they returned.
Taylor did not dare disclose that her marriage was over and decided to keep mum about it for months. Around Christmas, she failed to keep up appearances and moved out of the house.
She and Hilton divorced in a little more than half a year after their wedding, but that did not stop Taylor from being a hopeless romantic:
“I was then and am now an incurable romantic. I am sorry I did not fully understand the reasons driving me into early matrimony.”
PURSUING LOVE WITH AN ACTOR TWICE HER AGE
A year later, Taylor married British actor Michael Wilding, a man 20 years her senior. She met the director when she was filming "Ivanhoe" in 1952.
"The Flintstones," star supposedly avoided dating when she met her second future husband. However, that did not deter her from taking the plunge sooner, as she proposed marriage herself to Wilding. They wed that same year.
Elizabeth Taylor with actor Michael Wilding following their wedding in 1952. / Source: Getty Images
Soon after, Taylor welcomed two sons, Michael Jr. in 1953 and Christopher in 1955, both via C-Section. But only a handful of years later, their relationship soured when her career began to outshine his.
Although she got him an MGM contract, Wilding was middle-aged, and his career faded. However, it was crystal clear that age played an essential role in the pair breaking up, even though Taylor claimed it was unimportant from the onset. They agreed to an amicable divorce.
Elizabeth Taylor and husband Michael Wilding with their sons Michael Jr and newborn Christopher, Los Angeles, California, 1955. / Source: Getty Images
SHE MARRIED ANOTHER MAN 25 YEARS HER SENIOR
Ironically the next man she wed was five years older than Wilding. Taylor got married to theatrical producer Mike Todd (real name Avrom Goldbogen) in February 1957 in Alcapulco.
Meeting Todd finalized her decision to divorce Wilding, in which Todd expressed he would marry her. The two would occasionally meet in gatherings while she was still married to Wilding, and Todd was always upfront with her. Taylor once said:
“Every woman should have a Mike Todd in her life. God, I loved him. My self-esteem, my image, everything soared under his exuberant, loving care.”
Actor Mike Todd and his wife, Elizabeth Taylor as they arrive at a party after the Academy Award presentations. / Source: Getty Images
When they eventually tied the knot, Todd's long-time friend, Eddie Fisher, was the best man, and his wife, Debbie Reynolds, was Taylor's matron of honor.
In the same year they walked down the aisle, Taylor gave birth to their daughter Liza in August, also by cesarean, which nearly killed the mother and child. As a result, the "Giant" star was advised not to have another baby again.
She and Todd packed all the love they had in their short time together as he tragically died in a plane crash in Albuquerque a year later while on his way to New York.
His wife had wanted to accompany him, but she got persuaded to stay home because of a flu virus. On hearing about the heart-wrenching news, Taylor reportedly screamed so loud that neighbors a few doors away could hear her.
She had to be drugged to prevent her from committing suicide. The Hollywood leading lady struggled after her husband's death, losing 12 pounds in one week and developing insomnia because she could not bear the loneliness anymore.
TAYLOR'S FIVE MORE MARRIAGES
That was when she met her next spouse, Todd's good friend, Fisher. Taylor said it was during that vulnerable period in her life that she thought she and the actor should comfort each other.
He had left his wife, and the press vilified her for their marriage breaking up. Taylor shared Fisher and Reynold's union had its issues long before she came into the picture.
Nonetheless, she and the singer wed in Mary 1959. Then in 1961, she started having an affair with her "Cleopatra" co-star, Welsh actor Richard Burton.
British natives Elizabeth Taylor and actor Richard Burton at their first wedding in 1964 in Montreal, Canada. / Source: Getty Images
In March 1964, she divorced Fisher and married Burton nine days later, whom she considered the love of her life. Taylor said Burton showered her with tons of love:
“I love beautiful things, and Richard responded by showering me with glittering tokens of love.”
The couple was dubbed the most famous turbulent duos in Hollywood history. Their marriage was so scandalous that the Vatican denounced their relationship affront to morality.
But an unbothered Taylor swore that if she and Burton were to divorce, she would never remarry. "I love him insanely," she said. Notably, their marriage would be her longest, lasting ten years.
But in their relationship, she had an affair with Iranian ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi. The pair both divorced their partners, and Taylor traveled with her newfound lover, Zahedi, to Tehran for a short while.
Ultimately, Shah Reza Pahlavi convinced Zahedi to end his affair with the brunette beauty, and Taylor returned to Burton. They remarried 16 months after their divorce in Botswana.
The couple adopted a 3-year-old German girl named Maria in 1964. Soon after, their marriage hit rock bottom when Burton started his heavy drinking, and within a year, the pair divorced again.
Taylor later married John Warner, a World War II veteran, and a politician, in December 1976, but they divorced in November 1982 because he put his work first.
Again, Taylor married her eighth and last husband, Larry Fortensky, in October 1991. He was a construction worker 20 years her junior, merrily. Although she said it was forever this time, five years later, she filed for divorce in October 1996.
Taylor passed away in March 2011, at age 79, in Los Angeles. The two-time Oscar award winner had a long history of ill health and was being treated for symptoms of congestive heart failure. She was surrounded by her four children when she died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, her publicist revealed at the time.
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