Elizabeth Taylor Lived An Extremely Lavish Life

The late actress Elizabeth Taylor was famous for many reasons throughout her life. Being thrown into stardom by her mother at the young age of 10, Taylor had ample time to take full advantage of life in the spotlight, making a home for herself there until she died in 2011 at the ripe age of 79. 

Taylor was the face of Hollywood in her prime, starring in classic films such as "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," "Jane Eyre," "Little Women," "Suddenly Last Summer," and "The Taming of the Shrew." But talented Taylor was much more than an actress and heartthrob for audiences: Taylor became a strategic businesswoman, using her popularity for entrepreneurial ventures, as well as humanitarian and activist causes such as HIV/AIDs research, which was a cause close to her heart.

In her personal life, Taylor was a wife, mother, and eventually a grandmother. And while she was embodying so many roles, both on and off the screen, with great passion, she was also living a lavish life of luxury and racking up a net worth between $600 million and $1 billion.

She grew up in a big house in Beverly Hills

Elizabeth Taylor didn't live a rags-to-riches story but instead grew up blessed and well taken care of by her mother, a stage actress, and her father, an art dealer. Although Taylor was born in North London, U.K., her parents were both Americans and, shortly before World War II began, the family moved back across the pond to Los Angeles, California. 

Taylor spent most of her childhood and teenage years with her family in a five-bedroom house in Beverly Hills. Biographer Alexander Walker described the house to Architectural Digest as, "A low building in the Spanish style, with pink stucco walls and red roof tiles," adding, "It had a huge round-arched window facing the road and a dusty front 'yard' with an olive tree in it."

Besides living in grandeur from a young age, Taylor also had attentive parents. Her mother, in particular, took an interest in Taylor's career, since she was a former actress herself. With her mother's vast knowledge and encouragement, Taylor began ballet at the age of 3 and went on to star in her first film at only 10 years old. It was certainly a strong start to a life of luxury and fame.

By age 16, Elizabeth Taylor was the most photographed actress in the world

Before Elizabeth Taylor was even out of her parent's care, she was already the most photographed actress in the world at the age of 16. Her unique beauty captured not only her audience but photographers everywhere, including Phillipe Halsman who shot her at 16 and helped launch her career with an iconic portrait and wise advice. Halsman described his session with the young Taylor in his book, "Halsman: Sight and Insight" (via Life). "In my studio, Elizabeth was quiet and shy. She struck me as an average teenager, except that she was incredibly beautiful."

Taylor reflected on her experience with him in her own memoir, "Elizabeth Takes Off: On Weight Gain, Weight Loss, Self-Image, and Self-Esteem," stating, "On a purely technical level, he pointed out that two sides of my face photographed differently. One side looked younger; the other more mature. In posing for Halsman, I became instantly aware of my body." The photographer also affected her vision of herself in other ways. "[Halsman] was the first person to make me look at myself as a woman ... After my session with Halsman, I was much more determined to control my screen image. I wanted to look older so I insisted on cutting my hair." 

Taylor went on to keep Halsman's words close to her when it came to career and appearance, learning how to successfully market herself. 

She began marrying influential men from a young age

Elizabeth Taylor put passion into everything she did, which is perhaps why she ended up with eight husbands in total over the course of her life. Taylor's first husband was hotel heir Conrad "Nicky" Hilton, whom she married at the age of 18. Their marriage only lasted eight months. According to People, Taylor wrote in her 1988 autobiography "Elizabeth Takes Off," that Hilton "became sullen, angry and abusive, physically and mentally." A year later, Taylor married British actor Michael Wilding. After five happy years, the couple divorced amicably. 

Taylor's third husband was movie producer Mike Todd. Perhaps one of the most tragic things about Taylor's life was losing Todd in a plane crash while pregnant with their child, Liza. After Todd's untimely death, she began an affair with his friend, Eddie Fisher, who was married to actress Debbie Reynolds at the time. Their marriage lasted a few years until Taylor fell in love with co-star Richard Burton on the set of "Cleopatra." They married and remained together for 10 years until their fighting broke them up. But, the two couldn't stay apart — they re-married a year later, only to divorce after a year. Burton was the only husband Taylor married twice.

Taylor's seventh husband was politician John Warner. Six years later, they ended things, but the two remained friendly. Taylor's eighth and final husband was construction worker Larry Fortensky. Their marriage was unlikely, but it lasted five years nonetheless.

She demanded and received a record salary

Elizabeth Taylor made history for portraying iconic roles such as Amy March in Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women," Kate in Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," and of course, Cleopatra in "Cleopatra," a film documenting the life of the famous Queen of Egypt. And although "Cleopatra" was based on true events, some of the studio choices, especially with costumes and set, were a tad embellished and not designed for accuracy. 

Though audiences flocked to see Taylor's performance as Cleopatra, the most impressive part of her role was the compensation she demanded and received. At the time of the negotiation, Taylor, who was having an affair with American singer and actor Eddie Fisher, had him communicate her salary request of $1 million dollars and 10% of the film's gross earnings to Fox executives. Despite being the first actor to make $1 million dollars on a film, Fox executives agreed and the contract was put into place. 

However, while the contract was being drafted, stipulations, such as overtime pay, were added that actually increased Taylor's $1 million dollar ask. In the end, because the filming process was drawn out for two years, Taylor ended up making about $7 million, which would equal roughly $60 million in today's world.

Elizabeth Taylor had an extensive private collection of jewelry

In addition to her acting, Elizabeth Taylor was known for her extensive jewelry collection. In fact, to this day, it is considered one of the most important collections owned by anyone. It's no secret that Taylor loved her jewels as she donned everything from emerald drop earrings to tiaras to events and social functions. According to Tatler, Taylor once said, "You can't cry on a diamond's shoulder and diamonds won't keep you warm at night, but they're sure fun when the sun shines."

Taylor's collection was more than expensive: It had deep meaning. This included her antique diamond tiara, a gift from her third husband, Mike Todd, which she kept well after his passing for its sentimental value. However, its dollar value was also great. It was eventually sold for $4 million, which was approximately 60 times more than its estimated worth. 

Another meaningful and expensive item from Taylor's collection was her La Peregina pearl — 'La Peregina' meaning "female wanderer." This famous pearl is widely known as the most perfect pearl in the world. In the 1500s, the pearl was found off the coast of Panama and was given to the Spanish Royal Family. However, in the Napoleonic War, it was lost to the French and then sold to British royals. Richard Burton, Taylor's fifth husband, bought it for her, and Taylor had it reset with additional jewels. 

Elizabeth Taylor won two Academy Awards

A successful actress's career is never complete without a few awards, and in Elizabeth Taylor's lush and elaborate life, they were the cherry on top and kept her in the spotlight. Taylor earned two Academy Awards during the span of her career. The first was in 1961 for best actress in "Butterfield 8," which she received shortly following the tragic death of her husband, Mike Todd, as well as after a severe case of pneumonia that required a tracheotomy to save her life. Although she was well enough to accept the award in person, she was still very much mourning her late husband. 

Taylor's second Academy Award win was another best actress title, this time for her performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in 1967. Unfortunately, she was not there to accept the award in person, but it was a sentimental win for her and she was very grateful. During her span as a Hollywood actress, Taylor also received additional nominations for best actress in 1958 for "Raintree Country," 1959 for "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," and 1960 for "Suddenly, Last Summer." 

She had her own private jet

Elizabeth Taylor truly led a jet-set lifestyle. A gift from her husband, Richard Burton, a 10-seater private jet was Taylor's preferred method of travel. According to Tatler, Burton wrote in a journal entry, "Saturday 30th September 1967, Paris: At about 12 noon, I did something beyond outrage. I bought Elizabeth the jet plane we flew in yesterday. It costs, brand new, $960,000. She was not displeased." 

The couple enjoyed travel, whether it was across seas to Europe or to their vacation home in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which is now a boutique hotel. The luxury of owning a private jet only added to Taylor's lavish lifestyle that her fans expected of her. She was truly a pop culture icon at the time and everything she did from travel to food to style was done with passion, excess, and careful attention to her brand, which only amplified her success.

She indulged in an excessive lifestyle

The untold truth of Elizabeth Taylor was hidden behind her talent, beauty, and charm. Taylor was known for indulging in excess, whether that was with food, style, travel, or everything else money could buy. She was the prime example of someone living a lavish life. Unfortunately, not all of her excess was healthy.

Taylor struggled with alcohol abuse, as well as the abuse of prescription pills. Her family ultimately had an intervention to help her. According to The New York Times, Taylor realized her family wouldn't have intervened unless she was truly hurting herself. "For 35 years, I couldn't go to sleep without at least two sleeping pills ... And I'd always taken a lot of medication for pain. I'd had 19 major operations, and drugs had become a crutch. I wouldn't take them only when I was in pain.”

According to the biography, "Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit and Glamour of an Icon," by Kate Andersen Brower, the actress' physicians wrote a "combined 1,000 prescriptions for twenty-eight drugs between 1983 and 1988, including tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and painkillers," (via Page Six).

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

She changed the market for branded perfumes

Elizabeth Taylor not only loved jewelry, but she also loved perfume. In fact, she became known as the original celebrity perfumer, even though Sophia Loren was the first celebrity to launch a scent in 1981. Taylor, being an avid businesswoman, understood how to use her face for marketing, and it's estimated that her billion-dollar fortune was made up mostly of her perfume commissions. In 1987, Taylor released her first fragrance, appropriately named "Passion." Her perfume franchise continued to grow throughout the years with scents such as "Violet Eyes" and her infamous scent "White Diamond," which was a product of her collaboration with the company Elizabeth Arden. This collaboration went on to produce 10 more scents together. 

Even though it seems like every celebrity is now releasing a signature scent — from Britney Spear's "Curious" to perfumes by J.Lo, Hillary Duff, Mariah Carey, and many more — Taylor's perfumes still remain number one in demand. The reason? The scent's marketing. Taylor's lifestyle, fashion choices, and classic Hollywood persona embody a feminine yet powerful aura that anyone can buy and douse themselves in. 

She was nicknamed 'the most beautiful woman in the world'

If Elizabeth Taylor was anything, she was beautiful. According to Time, from her beginning days signed with MGM to the end of her time there, she was frequently called "the most beautiful woman in the world," a title that added to her grand and luxurious appeal. 

Taylor's allure even spiked discussion in the world of science. The actress was pale-skinned with dark black hair and uniquely violet-colored eyes that stood out from her white complexion. According to ABC, Harvard Psychologist and author of "Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty," Nancy Etcoff, said, "I think Richard Burton called her a 'miracle of construction,'" before continuing to explain the reason why Taylor charmed millions of people with her beauty. "A higher contrast tends to make the face look more feminine," Etcoff shared. Taylor added to this natural illusion by donning dramatic dark lip colors. 

But her beauty was not all in her face: Taylor also had the sought-after hourglass shape that was the epitome of beauty and femininity during her stardom. In fact, her hourglass figure was amplified — Etcoff explained that the "perfect" hip-to-waist hourglass ratio is 0.7 and Taylor's was 0.6 in her prime.

Elizabeth Taylor was a fashion icon

From diamonds to gowns, Elizabeth Taylor was the epitome of fashion throughout her life. Taylor loved being the center of attention and showing off her lavish carefree lifestyle, and one of the ways she did this was through fashion. Taylor's style was always classy, chic, glamorous, and elegant, but she also effortlessly went with the times, representing her personal style within the confines of present fashion. Taylor went from slipping on '50s silhouette dresses that cut at the waist to rocking the more rectangular shift dresses of the '60s. Besides her elaborate jewelry, she was also known for her daring plunge necklines that exposed her cleavage and big hairstyles.  

Even as she got older, Taylor continued to put thought and pride into her outfit choices. During middle age, she boldly wore sparkly mini skirts and eyeshadow to match. She also loved a signature headpiece or a feather boa, which allowed her to stand out amongst the crowd even as she aged. In her final years, when her main mission was philanthropy, Taylor still made an effort with her style, wearing luxurious embellished tunics. Even after her passing, Taylor's influence and spirit in fashion are still present today.

She became a British dame

Probably one of the most astonishing facts about Elizabeth Taylor's lavish life is that she was honored with the title of dame at the age of 67 by Queen Elizabeth II. Taylor was among 2,000 people who were given the title to celebrate their contributions to society. Other popular Hollywood starlets such as Julie Andrews and Sean Connery were also recognized. 

After the announcement, Taylor's reaction was simply, "Well, I've always been a 'broad.' Now it's a great honor to be a dame!" Taylor was not coined a dame for solely being influential on the screen and stunningly beautiful, but also for her work off the screen, particularly with her campaigns to support those suffering from HIV/AIDS. In fact, nine years prior to being rewarded the title of dame, Taylor started amfAR, a foundation for AIDS research, in the hopes of solving the health crisis through innovative research.  

The title of dame took Taylor's long and lavish life to a whole new level, and her promotion to royalty was well-deserved.