Liz Taylor buried in small ceremony at LA cemetery
Thursday, March 24, 2011
GLENDALE, Calif. -- Elizabeth Taylor's family mourned the screen legend in a brief private funeral service Thursday at a Southern California cemetery famous for being the final resting place of Hollywood celebrities, including her good friend Michael Jackson.
Inside the sprawling Forest Lawn Cemetery, barricades blocked access to the funeral, where about four dozen family members mourned the actress during a service that lasted about an hour, said Glendale police spokesman Tom Lorenz. Five black stretch limousines transported Taylor's family to and from the funeral, but no procession was held.
The service began 15 minutes after its announced start time in observance of Taylor's parting wish that her funeral start late, her publicist Sally Morrison said.
Taylor had left instructions asking for the tardy start and had requested that someone announce, "She even wanted to be late for her own funeral," Morrison said.
Taylor died early Wednesday of congestive heart failure while surrounded by her four children at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for about six weeks.
Taylor, who was infamously married eight times to seven husbands, converted to Judaism before her 1959 wedding to Eddie Fisher. Jewish customs call for a burial within 48 hours of death.
The roughly one-hour service began with poetry readings by actor Colin Farrell and Taylor's family members and included a trumpet performance of Amazing Grace by her grandson, Morrison said.
The casket was draped in gardenias, violets, and lilies of the valley before its interment in the cemetery's Great Mausoleum beneath a marble sculpture of an angel inspired by the work of Italian artist Michelangelo.
In addition to Jackson, the cemetery is the final resting place for such stars as Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, W.C. Fields, Red Skelton, Gracie Allen, Walt Disney and Nat King Cole.
Taylor, the star of such films as "BUtterfield 8," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Cleopatra," won three Academy Awards, including a special one for her humanitarian work. She was an ardent and early supporter of AIDS research, when HIV was new to the industry and beyond.
"I admired Elizabeth Taylor enormously and feel heartsick losing her, especially with all of her charitable works," said Ann Berry, a fan and character actress who lives nearby and visited the cemetery with a friend to pay their respects to the star.
Several television news crews documented the service from across the street while news helicopters swirled overhead and students got out of class at the nearby Cerritos Elementary School.
Taylor underwent at least 20 major operations during her life and nearly died from a bout with pneumonia in 1990. In 1994 and 1995, she had both hip joints replaced, and in February 1997, she underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. In 1983, she acknowledged a 35-year addiction to sleeping pills and pain killers, and was treated for alcohol and drug abuse at the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Survivors include Taylor's daughters Maria Burton-Carson and Liza Todd-Tivey, sons Christopher and Michael Wilding, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Taylor's publicist said any details of a memorial service would likely be announced at a later date.
Acting legend Elizabeth Taylor dies of heart failure in hospital after years of illnessBy Donna Mcconnell and David Gardner
23rd March 2011
Actress Dame Elizabeth Taylor has died at the age of 79, her publicist confirmed in a statement today.
The star passed away from congestive heart failure in hospital last night having suffered from the condition since November 2004.
She was admitted to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles 'for monitoring' last month.
Her publicist confirmed: 'Legendary actress, and fearless activist Elizabeth Taylor died peacefully today in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.'
The English-American star, considered one of the great actresses - and great beauties - of Hollywood's golden age, was surrounded by her children: Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd, and Maria Burton.
Dame Elizabeth's son, Michael Wilding, said in a statement: 'We will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.
'My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humour, and love.
He added: 'Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.
'Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mum having lived in it.
'Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts.'
In addition to her children, she is survived by ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Dame Elizabeth was said to weigh less than 98lbs when she died after spending the last two weeks of her life on a respirator in hospital.
‘She was tiny and she was fighting for every breath,’ said a friend.
LIZ TAYLOR: A LIFE ON SCREEN
1942 - There’s One Born Every Minute – Taylor’s first appearance on the silver screen was released when she was just 10-years-old.
1943 – Lassie Come Home – Despite being dropped by Universal after her first film Elizabeth was signed up by MGM and appeared in three films before her big break the following year.
1944 – National Velvet – Taylor rose to fame in the smash hit playing Velvet Brown opposite Mickey Rooney at just 12-years-old
1954 – Her busiest year saw Elizabeth star in no less than four films and at 22 years old was considered a great beauty
1957 – Raintree County – The actress was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Susanna Drake but she missed out on the award on the night.
1960 – Butterfield 8 – After missing out on an Oscar three times, Taylor was awarded with an Academy Award for her portrayal of the beautiful Gloria Wandrous . She starred alongside her then-husband Eddie Fisher
1963 – Cleopatra – Elizabeth played the leading role in what was at the time one of the most expensive movies. Not only was she paid $1million but she also met her future husband Richard Burton.
1966 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? –Taylor was awarded an Oscar for her role as Martha and starred alongside her then-husband Richard Burton.
1970 – The Only Game In Town – By the end of the 1960’s Taylor had lost some of her pulling power at the cinema
1982 – The Little Foxes (play) – Elizabeth made her Broadway and West End debut with a revival of Lillian Hellman’s play
1994 – The Flintstones – The actress played Wilma’s mother in her last theatrical film
'She still felt that she had so much to live for.
‘But she was happy with her life at the end. She was happy with her family – she was at peace.’
The actress’s four children, ten grandchildren and four great grandchildren are expected to share much of her $600 million fortune, although she is leaving some to her AIDS charity, added the friend.
She kept handwritten diaries through much of her life and was said to have discussed a deal to publish them as an explosive memoir following her death.
Doctors were said to be hopeful that she could return to her Bel Air mansion just days before her long-term congestive heart problem took a dramatic turn for the worse.
Her death comes exactly 53 years after she was widowed when third husband, film producer Michael Todd, died in a plane crash.
Dame Elizabeth turned 79 on February 27 but celebrated with her friends and family a month early as ten days later she was admitted to hospital to undergo surgery to repair a leaky heart valve.
The Hollywood veteran, who was born in Hampstead north London, announced the news via social networking site Twitter.
She used Twitter to relay news of her illness to supporters asking them to pray for her.
'I'll let you know when it is all over. Love you, Elizabeth,' was one of the final messages she tweeted.
Dame Elizabeth had struggled with her health for a number of years - and towards the end of her life was confined to a wheelchair.
She broke her back at least five times, had three bouts of pneumonia of which one, in 1961, required a tracheotomy, and another, in 1990, nearly killed her.
There were two hip-replacement operations and surgery to remove a benign golf ball-sized brain tumour, plus two stays at the Betty Ford clinic.
More health troubles plagued Taylor in the late 1980s including recurring back trouble that led her to start drinking again and she developed a dependency on pain-killing drugs.
But throughout all this Dame Elizabeth managed to retain her sense of humour.
In 1999, when asked what she would like to see written on her gravestone, she replied: 'Here lies Elizabeth. She hated being called Liz. But she lived.'
The actress's star burned brightly in the spotlight since finding fame in Hollywood at the age of 12.
And her incandescent beauty stood out in the town stuffed with starlets due to her unique violet coloured eyes.
She earned four Oscar nominations- for Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer - finally winning at her fourth attempt with film Butterfield 8.
And in 1961 she became the highest-paid actress in America and the first star ever to be paid $1million for a screen appearance.
She received the fee for the lead in Cleopatra - a lavish costume drama about ancient Rome and Egypt.
When the film was released in 1962 it was a critical flop but earned enough at the box office to cover the vast production costs.
Enduring love: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor met during filming of 1963's Cleopatra - one of the most expensive films of all time
Her second Oscar came in 1967 for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
The last of the great Hollywood movie stars,she became famed not just her stunning beauty or talent but also for her chequered love life.
Dame Elizabeth married eight times to seven husbands - most notably the late Welsh-born actor Richard Burton, who she married twice.
The warring couple, who met during filming of 1963's Cleopatra - one of the most expensive films of all time - made 12 films together.
Scandal erupted when Taylor and Burton - both married - began an affair.
Dame Elizabeth and Burton divorced their respective spouses and wed in 1964. He would become Taylor's fifth - and sixth - husband.
Love of my life: Elizabeth pictured with her fifth and sixth husband, Welsh actor Richard Burton, who died August 1984
The Taylor-Burton romance was notoriously stormy and passionate. And the couple was famous worldwide for their opulent jet-setting lifestyle, with multimillion-dollar homes and private yachts.
Throughout the relationship Burton continued to lavish extravagant jewellery on Taylor including the extraordinary Taylor-Burton, then 69.42-carat, colourless diamond, which he purchased in 1969 for $1.1million in a private sale from Cartier.
They divorced over Burton's excessive drinking habit in 1974 after ten years together only to remarry the following year before divorcing again in 1976.
During the relationship the couple adopted a daughter together, Maria Burton born 1 August, 1961, who Taylor remained close to after their separation.
In a 2006 interview Taylor referred to Burton as her 'soulmate'.
'Richard enriched my life in different ways, internal journeys into feelings and thoughts,' Taylor said.
'He taught me poetry and literature, and introduced me to worlds of beauty. He made me laugh. He made me cry. He explored areas in me that I knew existed but which had never been touched. There was never a dull moment.
'I loved Richard through two marriages and until the day he died.'
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