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Dame Elizabeth Taylor, one of the 20th Century's biggest movie stars, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 79.

The double Oscar-winning actress had a long history of ill health and was being treated for symptoms of congestive heart failure. Her four children were with her when she died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, her publicist said.

In a statement, her son Michael Wilding called her "an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom 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."

A private family funeral will be held later this week. Instead of flowers, the family has requested that contributions be made to the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation.

British actress Joan Collins, who starred alongside Dame Elizabeth in the 2001 TV film These Old Broads, called her "the last of the True Hollywood Icons... A great beauty, a great actress and continually fascinating to the World throughout her tumultuous life and career. She will be missed"

About herself, Elizabeth Taylor wrote in her 1987 weight loss book:

"Certainly without a sense of humour I would never have used one of my most effective diet tricks. Someone told me that Debbie Reynolds kept a photograph of me taken during my fattest period on her refrigerator door. She said it reminded her of what could happen if she charged into the icebox. During the initial stage of my diet I thought, well, if it works for Debbie, maybe it will work for me. I stuck a picture of myself at my worst on the refrigerator, and every time I went into the kitchen, there was my corpulent self-reminding me of what would happen if I broke my diet. That sight was an excellent deterrent to bingeing. If you think a picture of me as Miss Lard will inspire you, go ahead and put it on your refrigerator, I have no objection. Certainly there are enough photos for you to choose from. I didn't exactly skulk about in those days, and even if I had tried to avoid the press, they would have found me."

But perhaps the last words should be from perhaps her greatest love, Richard Burton:

"She was unquestionably gorgeous. I can think of no other word to describe a combination of plentitude, frugality, abundance, tightness. She was lavish. She was a dark unyielding largesse. She was, in short, too bloody much." - Richard Burton, Meeting Mrs. Jenkins (1966)

" extraordinarily beautiful that I nearly laughed out loud… the most astonishingly self-contained, pulchritudinous, remote, removed, inaccessible woman I had ever seen."

Burton went on to describe her as "... her body was a true miracle of construction and the work of an engineer of genius. It needed nothing, except itself. It was true art, I thought, executed in terms of itself. It was smitten by its own passion. I used to think things like that."

London Theatre Direct were proud to be associated with the Royal Albert Hall's tribute to Dame Elizabeth in May 2000 attended by Dame Elizabeth, her close friend and confidant, Michael Jackson, Joan Collins and many others.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor, you will be missed.

Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation

[Posted by Honza 23/03/2011]

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