After entering Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles two months ago for treatment of symptoms of congestive heart failure, news centers are reporting that iconic actress Elizabeth Taylor has passed away at the age of 79.
After beginning her career in the 1942 film 'There's One Born Every Minute,' Taylor quickly evolved from work as Lassie's sidekick and Jane Eyre's doomed best friend to her career-making role in 'National Velvet.' As Taylor matured, her work evolved from 'Little Women' to 'Father of the Bride' and ultimately to the dramatic fare that made her not only one of Hollywood's biggest movie stars, but also one of cinema's most talented.
In 1956, she starred opposite Rock Hudson and James Dean in the plagued, Oscar-winning epic 'Giant,' which led her straight to her first Academy Award nomination in 1958 as doomed Southern belle Susanna Drake in 'Raintree County.' It began an awe-inspiring string of award-nominated work. 1959 brought the sexy and indelible 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,' then 'Suddenly, Last Summer' and finally her first win in 1961 for 'Butterfield 8.'
The epic 'Cleopatra' ended the nomination string. Her most impressive work, however, was still to come. Taylor's final nomination and win came for her all-too-real work with once-husband Richard Burton in Mike Nichols' look at a struggling and aging marriage poisoned by alcohol abuse, 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.'
Unfortunately, a fall during 'National Velvet' started a life-long ordeal of physical ailments -- back issues, a near-fatal fight against pneumonia, addiction, hip replacements, brain tumor, heart failure...
By the '80s, most of her work was in television, playing Helena Cassadine in 'General Hospital' and Madam Conti in the Civil War miniseries 'North and South.' Her last film role -- Pearl Slaghoople in the 1994 comedy 'The Flintstones.'
Though in recent years she's the woman who married eight times to seven husbands (Richard Burton was the two-timer), and the close friend of plagued pop icon Michael Jackson, her work remains a stunning achievement of heart and talent.
She will be deeply missed.
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