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Image: Elizabeth Taylor
Mario Anzuoni  /  Reuters file
Elizabeth Taylor, pictured in December 2007, said the film she was proudest of is "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
updated 3/23/2011 11:39:55 AM ET 2011-03-23T15:39:55

Dame Elizabeth Taylor who passed away on Wednesday at age 79, gave one of her last interviews to UsMagazine.com in late 2010. Promoting her fragrance Violet Eyes, the Oscar-winner, humanitarian, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother shared 25 things you don't know about her with Us:

1. Before I made films, I had a lemonade stand in Southern California.

2. When José Eber is out of town, I love to cut my hair and anyone else's.

3. I'm mad for "Law & Order" and have seen every single episode. My children and Mariska Hargitay, a dazzling actress, played together as kids.

PHOTOS: Revisit Dame Elizabeth Taylor's life and career

4. I converted to Judaism in 1959.

5. My Jewish name is Elisheba Rachel.

6. My first horse was named Betty.

7. I didn't go on a date until I was 16.

PHOTOS: A-list couples

8. My legs are too short.

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9. The film I'm proudest of is "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

10. I never face the day without perfume.

11. I dreamed of designing perfume 25 years before I did it.

PHOTOS: See which other star created their own scent

12. I love blood-orange juice.

13. My very first memory is of pain.

14. I'm still heartbroken that Richard [Burton] never won an Oscar.

15. I am sincerely not worried about getting old.

16. I never tried to act until "A Place in the Sun."

PHOTOS: Sexy screen sirens then and now

17. I am disgusted by the amount of myth about me that is accepted as fact.

18. People on Twitter named my new fragrance, Violet Eyes.

19. I've never had acting lessons, though many people think I need them.

20. In my twenties, I nearly lost my eye and my leg. Still have them both, tee hee.

21. Nerves are the nemesis of all actors.

22. I hate being called Liz, because it can sound like such a hiss.

23. I believe you can be close to God anywhere.

24. My dog Delilah is in love with my cat Fang. To each his own.

PHOTOS: Stars and their furry companions

25. My family and people with HIV/AIDS are my life.

Copyright 2012 Us Weekly

Video: Elizabeth Taylor’s drama-driven life

  1. Closed captioning of: Elizabeth Taylor’s drama-driven life

    >> elizabeth taylor was one of the world's most beautiful and beloved movie stars with a career that spans more than seven decades. her life was not all glitz and glamor. we'll talk to her long-time publicist and friend in a moment. but first peter alexander .

    >> her career was filled with so many memorable movie moments, but her passing isn't just the loss of one of hollywood 's brightest stars , also the end of a 70-year soap opera that americans could not get enough. for a nation obsessed with royalty, elizabeth taylor was hollywood 's queen, famous for film as she was for diamonds, drama and divorce. with those stunning looks and violet eyes, taylor was a household name by the tender age of 12.

    >> all day and every night, i want to be a famous writer.

    >> reporter: she earned acclaim for being with top leading men.

    >> i tried with you, baby. i really tried.

    >> reporter: but her off-screen dramas would be as memorable as her performances themselves. more than 50 movies, sure, but the starlet also had seven husbands. the first a wealthy hotel heir, the last a construction worker. taylor lost husband number three, mike todd , in a tragic plane crash . but public sympathy waned barely a year later, when taylor ran off with singer eddy fischer, at the time still married to taylor 's best friend , debby reynolds . on the set of "cleopatra" she cemented her place as the best known vixen, entering a relationship with burton. the pope denounced taylor was a sexual vagrant. but she and burton would marry, divorce, and marry again.

    >> i'm a very committed wife. i should be committed, too, i've been married so many times.

    >> reporter: throughout the years, the public couldn't get enough of taylor 's glamour, the excess, and those jewels, fabulous jewels. she owned the giant pearl worn by bloody queen mary five centuries ago, and diamonds. elizabeth 's name will forever be synonymous with those spectacular sparklers, too.

    >> these have always brought me luck.

    >> reporter: but luck seemed to elude taylor when it came to her health. she missed months of work on "cleopatra."

    >> mistake lore was carried from the plane in a wheelchair.

    >> reporter: an illness that brought speculation about her well-being. among taylor 's personal struggles, chronic back pain, weight problems and trips to rehab for addiction to both prescription drugs and alcohol. still, despite countless tabloid headlines declaring her near death, taylor soldiered on. in her later years, most notably as the first celebrity crusader to raise awareness and money for aids research . most recently, her only public appearances were to help promote those aids charities and to mourn the loss of her beloved friend, michael jackson , whom she wouns proudly described as the least weird man she knew. a classic movie star whose life could easily have inspired its own hollywood epic, elizabeth taylor mesmerized fans to the very end.

    >> love some of those old news reel clips. thousands express their fond memories of taylor , a lot of them reserving remarks for twitter. carrie fischer , her dad was taylor 's fifth husband. fischer wrote, if my father had to divorce taylor for anyone, i'm so grateful it was elizabeth .

    >> sally marks, elizabeth taylor 's long-time publicist and friend, joins us this morning. good morning to you. and my condolences.

    >> thank you, matt. good morning, good morning.

    >> you knew her for a very long time, and my thoughts this morning are also with her family. you were very close with them, her four children, ten grandchildren, four great grandchildren. how are they doing?

    >> well, i think, as expected, they're very, very sad. you have to understand that elizabeth is a national treasure , a global treasure, and i think their whole lives of family have shared her with the world. and right now this is their time to sort of be private and have her alone. and i have to say, we're all really grateful that the press really has left them alone, and they need that time. it's their mom.

    >> i know she had spent six weeks in the hospital this last time. and i had heard there were some thoughts that she was improving enough maybe where she should come home before things took a turn for the worse. it's a difficult question to ask, sally, but was she aware of the seriousness of the condition of her final days?

    >> i think she was very aware of the seriousness of her condition. she had been in the hospital a long time. she had been hospitalized for about six weeks, and she had been stabilized. she received fantastic care at cedar sigh sinai. and it was managed and stable for a long time. you never know. i think all of us who loved her a lot had seen her get through so many extraordinary illnesses. in my case, you know, i sort of watched her over the past 20, 25 years, and she had been very sick many times. and she always had this extraordinary life force , and she sort of pushed through and came back. and i think we all thought that would be the case again, and definitely fervently hoped that. so it's kind of shattering. and i think everybody around her, her very close friends and her family, are just devastated.

    >> you know, i was trying to think overnight, sally, about why it was that people around the world seem to identify with her so much. none of us live a life like the one elizabeth taylor lived. and yet perhaps it was the fragility of her that allowed us to identify with her. she had ups and downs like all of us, turbulence, health issues, addiction. is that, do you think, what made people really recognize her?

    >> i think that's definitely part of it. but she had these real challenges, and she was very honest about them. she was very authentic. i mean, everybody has talked a lot about her beauty, image, contribution to film. but i think the point is that her success and her appeal was based on something very authentic, very real, and honestly, very substantive. and it's that substance that her appeal was built on, that has allowed her to do so much. for example, to build an incredibly successful, great fragrance business. she was the first celebrity fragrance, and 20 years later, white diamonds is a top, top seller . and that's what those loyal customers have responded to. her real authentic sort of zest and love for life. and, of course, her hiv work has been very much -- she has been able to do that because of that really sort of loyal following.

    >> i was wondering if maybe we could finish here, sally, by trying to -- people probably try to imagine what must have it been like to live in the shoes of elizabeth taylor ? i know the two of you were in florence, italy back in 1991 . just tell briefly what happened when she was recognized by a crowd of people.

    >> well, we had had come out of the aids conference, and she had made this extraordinary speech, and we were all very moved. it was very serious. and she said, let's go shopping a little bit. because she obviously loved to shop. and we all trooped along after her to the beautiful little cute jewelry stores. and suddenly we started to feel this vibration, and there were suddenly out of almost nowhere, thousands of people outside, and the bridge literally started to vibrate and shake, and we were kind of terrified actually, and she sort of blew it off, and she said, we'll be okay, it's all right, it's always like this in italy. and she took her fame casually and i think was able to use it to drive real substantive social change . so that's what is so special about her to me, that she was able to take something and make it -- use it to make the world a better place .

    >> sally morrison, thank you so much for sharing your memories again. and our condolences to you and her family.

    >> absolutely. thank you very much, matt.

Photos: Elizabeth Taylor: Legend

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  1. Tiny Taylor

    Young Elizabeth Taylor stands with her brother, Howard, and their pets in a garden, circa 1930s. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. First role

    Taylor's first big-screen role was in the 1942 film, "There's One Born Every Minute," in which she co-starred with Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer and Catherine Doucet. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Pure velvet

    Taylor gained prominence playing Velvet Brown in 1944's "National Velvet," the story of a girl who nurtures a special horse and races him in England's Grand National Steeplechase. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Doggone good

    In 1946, Taylor starred opposite Lassie in the dog's third (and Taylor's sixth) film, "Courage of Lassie." In this film, the legendary dog outsmarts the Nazis during World War II. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Greeting fans

    Teenage Taylor, wearing white gloves and an evening gown, signs autographs for eager fans at a nightclub in 1946. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Growing up

    Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor embrace on the set of 1949's "Conspirator," as the crew looks on. This was Taylor's first adult role. (Keystone Features / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Marriage No. 1

    Taylor and her first husband, hotelier Nicky Hilton, on their wedding day, May 6, 1950. The two divorced on Jan. 29, 1951. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Finding a 'Place'

    Taylor and close friend Montgomery Clift co-starred in George Stevens' 1951 film, "A Place in the Sun." She played a spoiled socialite who attracts the attention of Clift, who then murders his working-class pregnant girlfriend (Shelley Winters). Clift and Winters were nominated for Oscars, but Taylor was snubbed. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Marriage No. 2

    Taylor married her second husband, Michael Wilding, on Feb. 21, 1952. The two were divorced on Jan. 26, 1957. (Ron Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Under contract

    Taylor starred opposite George Sanders and Robert Taylor (not pictured) in Richard Thorpe's 1952 film, "Ivanhoe." Taylor was reportedly not pleased that MGM cast her in this forgettable film. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Simply lovely

    Taylor poses for a promotional photo in 1955. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Iconic cast

    Taylor starred opposite James Dean and Rock Hudson in George Stevens' 1956 film, "Giant." Dean and Hudson were nominated for Academy Awards, but once again, Taylor was passed over. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. My two sons

    Taylor with her sons Michael (born Jan. 6, 1953) and Christopher Wilding (born Feb. 27, 1955). (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Tragic turn

    Taylor married her third husband, American film producer Mike Todd, on Feb. 2, 1957. He was killed in a plane crash on March 22, 1958. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Here, kitty, kitty

    Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor starred together in Richard Brooks' 1958 film, based on the Tennessee Williams play, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." She received her second Oscar nomination (the first was for 1957's "Raintree County") for her role as Maggie the Cat. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Marriage No. 4

    Taylor married actor Eddie Fisher on May 12, 1959. It was a major 1950s Hollywood scandal when he left actress Debbie Reynolds (and his children Carrie and Todd Fisher) to be with Taylor. The two divorced on March 6, 1964. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Passion play

    Richard Burton played Antony to Taylor's Cleopatra in the 1963 film of the same name. Taylor received $1 million for her role, and the two stars had a well-publicized affair during the filming. The couple would marry, for the first time, on March 15, 1964. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Golden girl

    Taylor holds the Oscar she won for her role in 1966's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in which she starred opposite husband Richard Burton. It was her second Oscar; she won her first for her role in 1960's "Butterfield 8." (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Twice as nice

    Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton hold their granddaughter, Leyla, on Jan. 15, 1973, in Gstaad, Switzerland. The couple divorced on June 26, 1974, but then remarried on Oct. 10, 1975. They divorced for a second time on July 29, 1976. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Marriage No. 7

    Taylor married American politician John Warner on Dec. 4, 1976. The couple divorced in 1982, while he was serving as a Republican senator from Virginia. He previously served as Secretary of the Navy. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Checking in

    Taylor visited "General Hospital" in 1981, where she portrayed Helena Cassadine opposite singer-actor Rick Springfield's Dr. Noah Drake. Here they're pictured with "GH" executive producer/director Gloria Monty. (ABC via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. AIDS activist

    Elizabeth Taylor appears before the Labor, Health and Human Services Senate Subcommittee on May 8, 1986, in Washington, D.C. Taylor appeared as chair of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and appealed for more research funds. The actress helped create amfAR after the 1985 AIDS-related death of her friend, actor Rock Hudson. She also created the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. (Jerome Delay / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Two child stars

    Taylor and singer Michael Jackson hold one of two awards he won on Jan. 25, 1993, at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles, Calif. She was a vocal Jackson supporter during his 2005 trial on charges of sexually abusing a child. (Vince Bucci / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Marriage No. 8

    Taylor married former Teamster Larry Fortensky, 20 years her junior, at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch on Oct. 6, 1991. The two met while patients at the Betty Ford Clinic. The couple divorced on Oct. 31, 1996. (Brenda Chase / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Honored

    President George W. Bush shakes hands with Taylor, a Kennedy Center honoree, on Dec. 8, 2002, at The White House. Left to right, the other honorees are actor James Earl Jones, music conductor James Levine, dancer-actress Chita Rivera, singer-songwriter Paul Simon and Taylor. (Eric Draper / AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Birthday bash

    Taylor arrives with her children, Michael Wilding Jr., Christopher Wilding, Maria Burton, and Liza Todd Burton, for Taylor's 75th birthday party on Feb. 27, 2007, in Henderson, Nev. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Acting up

    Taylor starred opposite James Earl Jones in the A.R. Gurney play "Love Letters" in 2007. The performance raised $1 million for Taylor's AIDS foundation. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Saying goodbye

    Taylor attends Michael Jackson's funeral service at Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2009. (Harrison Funk / The Jackson Family via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. The legend

    Taylor on the catwalk at the 27th Annual Macy's Passport party in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2009. Despite suffering from a cold, the 77-year-old Hollywood legend managed to make an appearance grand enough to warrant a standing ovation. Taylor told the crowd, "As my beloved friend Michael [Jackson] said, 'We are the world.' And it is up to us to take care of those who are sick and dying, in this country and particularly in Africa." (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Legacy

    The American Film Institute named Taylor No. 7 among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time. On the list, she came right after Marilyn Monroe and just before Judy Garland. She died on March 23, 2011, in Los Angeles with her children at her side. She was 79 years old. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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Timeline: Elizabeth Taylor's life and career


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