Elizabeth Taylor was the Queen of Hollywood, with a career spanning six decades. Taylor, a two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress, was considered one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The American Film Institute named Taylor seventh on its Female Legends list.
A family friend noticed the strikingly beautiful little Elizabeth and suggested that she be taken for a screen test. Her test impressed executives at Universal Pictures enough to sign her to a contract. Her first foray onto the screen was in ‘There’s One Born Every Minute’ (1942), released when she was ten. Universal dropped her contract after that one film, but Elizabeth was soon picked up by MGM.
The first production she made with that studio was Lassie Come Home (1943), and on the strength of that one film, MGM signed her for a full year. The picture that made Elizabeth a star: MGM’s National Velvet (1944). She played Velvet Brown opposite Mickey Rooney. The film was a smash hit, grossing over $4 million. Elizabeth now had a long-term contract with MGM and was its top child star.
It wasn’t long before she was knocking critics dead as a serious adult actress with films like Giant (1956), Raintree County (1957) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). She ruled at the box office as the quintessential movie star taking the breath away from viewers with her glamorous looks and those velvet eyes. In 1963, she starred in ‘Cleopatra’, which was one of the most expensive productions to date, and her salary was said to be $1,000,000.
Her film career floundered in the 1960s and 1970s with a string of unusual and unsuccessful films.