After her success in National Velvet, in 1946, Elizabeth starred in the series of Lassie movies. After a musical debut in Cynthia in 1947, her next movie, Taylor appeared with the studio's rising soprano star Jane Powell. In 1947, Elizabeth also starred with Irene Dunne and William Powell in Life With Father, a heart warming movie about family. In her next movie, In A Date With Judy, Taylor appeared with the studio's rising soprano star Jane Powell.
In 1949, Taylor joined a host of young MGM starlets, including June Allyson, Janet Leigh and Margaret O'Brien, with Taylor and Mary Astor, in the studio's Technicolor film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Taylor wore a blonde wig for the film and was romantically paired with Peter Lawford.
Released in 1951, George Stevens', A Place In The Sun, was a brillant role for Elizabeth. Elizabeth was only seventeen when in was filmed in 1949, marking her first adult role. A Place In The Sun became an acting landmark in Taylor's areer as her best performance since National Velvet. Prior to this filmed being released in 1951, Taylor has starred with Van Johnson in The Big Hangover. Taylor played an amateur psychologist Johnson who suffered from "liquor recall" in the film.
Also in 1950, at a mature eighteen years-old, Taylor's movie star life and real life coincided when, shortly before her own marriage to Nicky Hilton, she starred as Spencer Tracy's bride-to-be daughter Kay Banks in Father of the Bride. Taylor went on to star with Joan Bennett in a sequel to Father of the Bride called, Father's Little Dividend. Taylor and Bennett reprised their roles as parents of Taylor, now a mother-to-be.
In 1954, Taylor played carefree Helen Ellswirth in The Last Time I Saw Paris, a post-war soaper about young love on the rocks with co-star Van Johnson.
In 1956 came Elizabeth's huge success GIANT. Taylor starred with Rock Hudson and James Dean in the epic adaptation of Edna Ferber's novel about a young bride from Kentucky adjusting to life in Texas. The film was nominated for ten Oscars including Best Picture. GIANT is a multi-generational romance which also took on issues of racial prejudice at a time when it was not politically correct to do so. Despite that, it was a huge success for Taylor.
In 1957, Taylor was once again cast opposite Montgomery Clift, in RainTree County . Taylor played a Southern belle who married a Yankee from Indiana just before the Civil War and was tormented, not only by the political conflicts surrounding her, but by something from her past which she cannot explain. This was a great role for Taylor.
In 1958 Elizabeth, had outgrown pretty-face young adult roles. She starred in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, capitalizing not only on her acting talents and womanly good looks, but also her impressive southern accent, first demonstrated in Raintree County in 1957. Co-starring with Elizabeth in the film was Paul Newman. The film featured Burl Ives, Jack Carson and Judith Anderson. This was the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' popular stage play earned six Oscar nominations, including Elizabeth's second in the Best Actress Oscar category.
In 1959, Elizabeth strarred in another Tennessee Williams adaptation, Suddenly Last Summer. The film was a complicated and confusing but well-acted story of a Southern matriarch, played by Katharine Hepburn, who believes her young niece, played by Taylor), is mad and wants neurosurgeon Montgomery Clift. The film earned Oscar nominations for both Hepburn and Taylor in the Best Actress category.
After being nominated three years in a row, Elizabeth won her first Best Actress Oscar in 1960 for her performance as high-class call girl Gloria Wandrous in Butterfield 8. At first, Taylor adamantly avoided making this film.. However, this is definitely a memorable Elizabeth Taylor role. Taylor always regarded this Oscar as a sympathy tribute however, winning it, as she did, just months after a near-fatal battle with pneumonia.
In 1963, one of the most expensive films ever filmed was released starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Originally running at six hours before being cut to a little over four for release, the huge epic CLEOPATRA.
Sadly, the film did not do too well at the box office...however, it managed eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture, winning four technical awards. Today this epic is best remembered for the on-screen romance between Cleopatra and Marc Antony which lead to a highly publicized off-screen romance between Taylor and co-star Richard Burton.
In 1966 Taylor earned her second Best Actress Oscar for her role as a middle-aged, alcoholic house wife in
the film adaptation of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Elizabeth co-starred with Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis. This hard-hitting drama helped bury the Hollywood Production Code, earning 13 Academy Award nominations despite its use of such contraband words that would be considered foul language.
Since Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Elizabeth went on to star in 36 other films for movie theaters and television such as, Divorce His - Divorce Hers, 1973: That's Entertainment!, 1974: Between Friends, 1983: Malice in Wonderland,1985: the television mini-series North and South in 1985: Sweet Bird of Youth, 1989: The Flintstones, 1994: Those Old Broads: 2001.
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David Lawrence Dewey
Updated December 11th, 2004
Updated March 24th, 2011