Remembering Elizabeth Taylor One Year Since Her Death: 5 Iconic Movie Roles (Video)

3:03 PM PST 03/24/2012 by THR Staff
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Elizabeth Taylor

One year after the Hollywood icon died at 79, THR looks at some of her big career moves.

One year after Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor died at age 79 of congestive heart failure, her legacy is still going strong.

Pinpointing the biggest roles in Taylor's storied movie career is a daunting task. She began appearing onscreen as a young girl, with her first credit being 1942's There's One Born Every Minute.

PHOTOS: Elizabeth Taylor's Life in Pictures

Some of Taylor's credits included 1949's Little Women, 1950's Father of the Bride, 1951's A Place in the Sun, 1958's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1959's Suddenly, Last Summer, 1960's Scent of Mystery and 1967's The Taming of the Shrew.

Taylor would also become known for her extravagant lifestyle and many husbands, including Richard Burton and Eddie Fisher.

THR looks at five of the actress' iconic roles:

1. National Velvet (1944)

A then 12-year-old Taylor broke through with the 1944 drama National Velvet, playing a young girl who took a chance with a horse that was deemed past its prime. Her character, Velvet Brown, trained the horse for the Grand National. She co-starred opposite Mickey Rooney and Donald Crisp in the Clarence Brown-directed film. Her health issues would begin early, as Taylor fell off a horse during production on National Velvet.

2. Giant (1956)

Taylor starred alongside James Dean in one of Dean's only films, Giant, as a lead actor before his death in September 1955. In Giant, Taylor played socialite Leslie Lynnton, who marries rancher Bick (Rock Hudson) and when she moves into the ranch, she begins a feud with Rink (Dean). Her friendship with co-star Hudson would later inspire the creation of Taylor's AIDS charity.

3. BUtterfield 8 (1960)

Taylor won her first Academy Award for the film, BUtterfield 8. It was life imitating art. In the film, she played Gloria Wandrous, who falls in love with a married man. Taylor and her then-husband Eddie Fisher went through a similar ordeal, when the couple married. (Fisher left his then-wife, actress Debbie Reynolds, for Taylor.)

4. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Taylor won her second Academy Award for best actress, playing Martha, in 1966's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? from director Mike Nichols. The relationship drama was Taylor also co-starred then-husband Richard Burton, to whom she was married twice.

5. Cleopatra (1963)

She played the title character in Cleopatra from filmmaker Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Cleopatra, one of the most expensive productions at the time, also marked Taylor's first onscreen movie with Burton. They would go on to star in more than 10 films together. Taylor's portrayal of the queen of Egypt made waves. In a piece analyzing the redefinition of Cleopatra, it said of Taylor: "what Taylor did capture, brilliantly, was Cleopatra’s unmatched, enduring allure. The Romans were fascinated by the spectacle of an exotic woman in their midst."

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