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updated 3/28/2011 4:43:27 PM ET 2011-03-28T20:43:27

Before becoming a bride eight times over, Elizabeth Taylor was a 17-year-old starlet scribbling letters to her first fiance, charting on pale pink stationery his progression from her one-and-only to the one who got away.

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"I've never known this kind of love before — it's so perfect and complete — and mature," Taylor wrote to William Pawley on May 6, 1949. "I've never loved anyone in my life before one third as much as I love you — and I never will (well, as far as that goes — I'll never love anyone else — period)."

Taylor, who died last week at age 79, was engaged to Pawley in 1949, just before her first marriage. More than 60 of the letters she wrote him between March and October of that year will be auctioned in May by RR Auctions of Amherst, New Hampshire. It bought the letters two years ago from Pawley, who lives in Florida.

The unpublished letters — some written in purple fountain ink on pink paper — provide a glimpse of a teenager's transition to adult screen star.

She frets about her weight ("As I'm sitting here — writing to you, I'm just stuffing myself on a box of candy — honestly I've got to stop eating so much") and passing her high school exams. And she contrasts two movies she was filming at the time, "A Place in the Sun" and "The Big Hangover," praising the director of the former and complaining about her role in the latter.

But mostly, she gushes about Pawley, the 22-year-old son of a former ambassador to Brazil, reassuring him over and over that her love is true.

"My heart aches & makes me want to cry when I think of you, and how much I want to be with and to look into your beautiful blue eyes, and kiss your sweet lips and have your strong arms hold me, oh so tight, & close to you ... I want us to be 'lovers' always ... even after we've been married seventy-five years and have at least a dozen great-great-grandchildren," she wrote on March 28.

In May, she told Pawley she was ready to say goodbye to her career and everything connected with it, "For I won't be giving anything up — but I will be gaining the greatest gift that God bestows on man — love, marriage, a family — and you my Darling."

By September, however, Taylor was writing about returning her engagement ring at Pawley's request.

"I know with all my heart and soul that this is not the end for us — it couldn't be — we love each other too much," she wrote.

Less than eight months later, she married hotel heir Conrad Nicholson "Nicky" Hilton.

The online auction, set for May 19-26, will also feature letters Taylor's mother wrote to Pawley after the engagement ended, including one in which she wrote, "You have a nervous condition and a problem with jealousy, as such you and Elizabeth can never be together."

Bobby Livingston, spokesman for the auction house, said the letters were estimated to be worth $25,000 to $35,000 before Taylor's death, and he expects they could fetch two or three times that amount now.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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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Video: Letters reveal Elizabeth Taylor’s first love

  1. Closed captioning of: Letters reveal Elizabeth Taylor’s first love

    >>> a glimpse into the personal life of a young elizabeth taylor through her own words. more than 60 unpublished love letters written by taylor when she was just 17. we'll talk to the auctioneer selling them in a moment. first, kristen welker has details. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning. elizabeth taylor grew up in the public eye. there isle little we haven't seen of her, but these letters are shedding light on her legacy. she was among the last of the true hollywood legends. now it seems elizabeth taylor 's legacy may be matched only by the vast fortune she left behind .

    >> elizabeth taylor is probably the greatest example of a celebrity who took their image and turned it into a brand and made a lot of money doing it.

    >> reporter: estimates put taylor 's worth between $600 million to $1 billion. she amassed art, antiques, lavish homes and above all --

    >> these have always brought me luck.

    >> reporter: jewelry.

    >> for taylor , jewelry was magic.

    >> reporter: her jewelry collection could fetch at least $150 million. almost all of her jewels were gifts from the men she loved except a few, including the prince of wales broach. block delivered the gem personally.

    >> she comes swishing down the stairs eventually looking absolutely magnificent and said, john, now you may present me with my jewel.

    >> reporter: taylor could earn more in death than in life. her perfume line white diamonds netted more than $70 million last year alone. now that she's gone who controls the estate and where will her possessions go?

    >> elizabeth taylor has four children. we are told much of the e estate will be divided amongst them but an unspecified amount will go to charity.

    >> reporter: her legacy will include newly released love letters she wrote as a 17-year-old starlet to her then fiance, 22-year-old william polly, jr., many penned on pale pink or blue stationery. i have never known this kind of love before, she wrote. she talks about giving up her career. i will be giving the greatest gift god bestowed on man -- love, marriage, a family. the relationship faded but taylor wed eight times including to legendary actor richard burton . his last love letter to her, taylor insisted upon being buried with. the letters are a newly discovered part of taylor 's past and one more reason why she left behind is priceless. it's estimated the letters could fetch at least 25 to 35,000 dollars. ann?

    >> thanks so much, kristen. bobby livingston is from r.r. auction. they have been selling the letters and they are selling them next month. he's brought several to the studio. good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> how is it that so soon after her death these are available for auction?

    >> mr. pauley gave them to us two years ago. we were planning the auction and they tell the story of the romance. they're spectacular.

    >> here is a photograph of him and here they are together. beautiful couple. it seemed as though she loved him deeply.

    >> they met on a summer vacation. she was off from mgm, went to florida, met him. he's the son of a millionle their. from the moment she got back on the plane for seven months she wrote over 60 letters.

    >> he gave her her first diamond?

    >> he did. a white diamond . she loved it. as the romance got off track he demanded it back.

    >> uh-oh.

    >> she wrote in there, i'll give you back this diamond but my heart is embedded in the center of it. beautiful stuff.

    >> let's read more from the letters. so many of them, the handwriting is beautiful.

    >> you can read that.

    >> oh, i can. oh, bill, darling, i do love you so very, very much. under line the second very. i misyou so much it feels like my heart were going to break. do you know, bill, i think i love you now more than i ever have before. i better stop before this gets too personal.

    >> it's fantastic.

    >> it's pretty personal.

    >> unbelievable. the letterers cover her career. "a place in the sun " she was filming in lake tahoe . talks about swimming at 20 degrees in the frozen lake in a bikini.

    >> she wrote from planes, like movie sets. do they reveal more about their love affair ? does it reveal something about these movies? what's going on in her life?

    >> as a 17-year-old this was her first mature love. she says she talks about it constantly how she's going to be mrs. pauley and they will have grandchildren together. as it goes south it gets real sad. but she's reassuring him she will love him forever. he wants her to stop her career and marry him.

    >> she talked about doing so but, in fact, didn't. obviously she didn't. but she did something that caused him to say, that's it. is that right?

    >> absolutely. she signed a new two-year contract with mgm.

    >> there we have the rest of her career. there is a letter here with different script because it's from her mother, right?

    >> that's the final letter her mother wrote --

    >> to him.

    >> on her behalf saying i talked to elizabeth, you're insanely jealous and you can't see her again.

    >> of her career?

    >> yes, of her career. he obviously still loved her all these years. he kept the letters in incredible condition, cherished them obviously.

    >> he's how old?e

    >> he's 90. what if she had married him.

    >> and also that it happened at all and he kept them quietly all these years until now. thank you very much, bobby. the auction is next month.

    >> in may.

    >> 35,000 or more?

    >> we figure about 25,000 to 35,000 before her death. sky's the limit now. we don't know.

    >> we'll find out. thanks for

Timeline: Elizabeth Taylor's life and career