Nightly News | March 23, 2011
>>> finally tonight, the news so many americans woke up to. as you no doubt heard earlier today, one of the greatest movie stars in the history of hollywood is gone. elizabeth taylor was a real star, glamorous and durable. also troubled and vulnerable. her career spanned 50 motion pictures over seven decades. put in terms of american presidents , her career spanned from fdr to obama. she was called the queen of hollywood . that's a title hollywood doesn't throw around lightly. we watched her grow up on camera. she was always in the public eye , a star beginning as a child. so, of course, nothing about her life ever seemed quite normal.
>> i'm not like anyone, i'm me.
>> elizabeth rosmund taylor was born in london in 1932 , the daughter of an actress and an art dealer . her parents left great britain before the outbreak of world war ii and settled in beverly hills . it was her eyes everyone first noticed. they were violet, and they were extraordinary. and with the rise of color film , that color sure stood out. her mother had always said she was an ugly duckling as a child, but she grew into a profound beauty known as elizabeth to her friends. liz was the invention of the press. her horse-riding skills helped her land a big role in " national velvet " back in 1944 , when she was just 12. that film made her a star, and she always called it the most exciting movie she ever made.
>> mother, we won.
>> that led to a long-term contract with mgm which she later resented, but that contract led to an oscar, her first, for the film " butterfield 8 ."
>> elizabeth taylor .
>> her second oscar came for her gritty, hard-to-watch performance as a dramatic, abusive wife in "who's afraid of virginia woolf ."
>> but i am not a monster, i'm not.
>> the recognition of the industry helped heal her wounds, from roles like "cleopatra." the role earned her a million dollars and that was a hollywood first. but her off-screen affair with co-star richard burton , who she later married not once, but twice, overshadowed the production, which then opened to bad reviews. in all, elizabeth taylor married eight times. there was a singer, eddie fisher , who was married to debbie reynolds when they first met. there was a senator, republican john warner of virginia. there was even a builder, who taylor met when he was doing some home improvements for her. for a lot of her life, taylor battled health problems, near fatal pneumonia, a brain tumor, substance abuse and weight problems.
>> either you look forward to waking up or you don't. i do.
>> all of her troubles provided comics with a lot of material. she never gave up, and kept her name and famous face out there with product endorsements later in life.
>> these have always brought me luck.
>> her remaining years were defined by the death of her close friend and former co-star, rock hudson . his revelation that he was dying of aids shocked the country, but she went to work, devoting her life to raising money and research to fight the disease and fight the stigma surrounding it.
>> they have so little touching and compassion in their life, that if you reach out to them, you receive so much love in return.
>> elizabeth taylor went on to found mfar. in a statement today they noted her monumental legacy in the fight against aids. in the end she suffered from congestive heart failure and she died with her family at her bedside. here's another way of thinking of elizabeth taylor 's career and it comes from another entertainment institution, joan rivers . "she lived a great life and died wealthy, unforgotten, with her family around her. where do i sign." joan rivers on her friend, elizabeth taylor , gone today at