LOS ANGELES - Screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, the violet-eyed film goddess whose sultry screen life was often upstaged by her stormy personal life, died Wednesday at age 79.
She died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, where she had been hospitalised for about six weeks, publicist Sally Morrison said.
“All her children were with her,” Morrison said.
Taylor had extraordinary grace, fame and wealth, and won three Oscars, including a special one for her humanitarian work. But she was tortured by ill health, failed romances and personal tragedy.
“I think I’m becoming fatalistic,” she said in 1989. “Too much has happened in my life for me not to be fatalistic.”
Her eight marriages — including two to actor Richard Burton — and a lifelong battle with substance abuse, physical ailments and overeating made Taylor as popular in supermarket tabloids as in classic film festivals.
Taylor disclosed in November 2004 that she had congestive heart failure. But she still periodically dismissed reports that she was at death’s door, saying she used a wheelchair only because of chronic back problems that began at age 12 when she fell from a horse.
“Oh, come on, do I look like I’m dying?” she said in May 2006 in a rare television interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” “Do I look like or sound like I have Alzheimer’s?” Tabloids report such things “because they have nothing else dirty to write about anybody else,” she said.
When she turned 75 the following year, she was asked about the secret to her longevity and quipped: “Hangin’ in.”
The London-born actress was a star at age 12, a bride and a divorcee at 18, a screen goddess at 19 and a widow at 26.