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Young Elizabeth Taylor: 16 Must-See Photos of the Stunning Hollywood Starlet

Learn about the actress' other endeavors, plus how many times she married!

Forever a Hollywood icon and activist, young Elizabeth Taylor started gracing our screens beginning at the age of 10. From there she was immediately launched onto the silver screen in dozens of movies, the actress stealing our hearts with her undeniable beauty and captivating performances.

As an adult, Taylor made history with her roles in Cleopatra (1963) and Butterfield 8 (1960), but has offered notable performances in every film she starred in. Taylor was also a major activist, shedding light on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and receiving many honors for her efforts.

Young Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor at age 23 (1955)

Young Elizabeth Taylor broke barriers with her film work, as well as with her ability to be a sharp-witted businesswoman. She single-handedly negotiated major contracts for herself and was the first celebrity to release a popular fragrance brand.

Check out these can’t-miss photos and learn more about the career of the young Elizabeth Taylor.

Young Elizabeth Taylor

Young Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor at age 7 (1939) Archive Photos / Stringer / Getty

Born on February 27, 1932, in London, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was the daughter of Sara and Francis Taylor. Though she was born in the UK, her art dealer parents were from Missouri, though they moved to London just before Taylor’s birth in order to open an art gallery.

Elizabeth and her parents moved back to the states when she was 7 years old. Her striking beauty made Taylor instantly noticeable and, after she went for a screen test, Universal Pictures signed her immediately.

Young Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor at 10 (1942) Donaldson Collection / Contributor / Getty

Her debut acting role at age 10 was as Gloria Twine in There’s One Born Every Minute (1942). Although Universal dropped her soon after, she quickly signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Lassie Come Home (1943) was the first MGM film Taylor starred in, but the film that catapulted her to stardom was National Velvet (1944). Her role there helped snag a long-term contract with MGM, as she was now their top child star. She even landed on the cover of LIFE at age 15.

MUST READ: Young Marilyn Monroe: Rare Early Photos of Hollywood’s Most Captivating Star

Box office hits for young Elizabeth Taylor

Young Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor in “Courage of Lassie” (1946) (MGM)

Taylor returned for the film Courage of Lassie (1946), which was a box office success. In 1947, she starred in one of the biggest films of the year, Life with Father, which featured actors William Powell and Irene Dunne.

The following year saw Taylor in films such as A Date with Judy, as well as Julia Misbehaves. In 1949, she starred in Conspirator and soon thereafter she scored the role of Amy in the film adaptation of Little Women (1949).

Young Elizabeth Taylor walks down the aisle

Taylor took her first trip down the aisle at a mere 18 years old! She married Nicky Hilton in May of 1950, but the couple only lasted for 8 months due to his abusive behavior, gambling and drug addiction.

Man and woman posing at film premiere
Elizabeth Taylor and soon-to-be second husband, Michael Wilding (1951) M. Garrett / Contributor / Getty

In 1952, Taylor tied the knot with fellow actor, Michael Wilding. The couple had two children throughout their marriage — first was son Michael Wilding Jr. in 1953, second was Christopher Wilding in 1955. The couple remained together until 1957 and had “a friendly divorce,” according to The Washington Post.

Elizabeth Taylor and two children
Elizabeth Taylor with her two sons, Michael and Christopher Wilding Hulton Archive / Staff / Getty

Taylor very quickly remarried, this time to movie producer Mike Todd. She has often referred to him as the first great love of her life, writing in her book Elizabeth Takes Off, “God, I loved him. My self-esteem, my image, everything soared under his exuberant, loving care,”

RELATED: Elizabeth Taylor Said ‘I Do’ 8 Times — Take a Look Back at All of Her Husbands In Order

The couple had a daughter, Liza, who was born in 1957. Unfortunately, Todd died in a plane crash in 1958.

Taylor’s friendship with Montgomery Clift.

In 1951, Taylor starred alongside good friend Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun. Clift and Taylor, who had met a few years prior, remained very close for years to come. They ended up starring in Raintree County (1957) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) together.

Woman leaning on man; young Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift in their film “A Place in the Sun” (1951) De Carvalho Collection / Contributor / Getty

Clift and Taylor first met in 1949 when she was fixed up to be his date to the premiere of his movie, The Heiress (1949). Taylor was enamored by Clift and she even tried to seduce him a time or two. He soon revealed to her that he was gay, but Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift remained platonic soulmates.

Taylor even saved Clift’s life in 1956. After Clift got into a major car accident after leaving a party at Taylor’s house, she saved him from choking. Clift likely would have died if it weren’t for her.

Unfortunately, she lost Clift in 1966 when he was 45.

The flourishing career of young Elizabeth Taylor

Woman and man at the Oscars
Elizabeth Taylor, in her lucky dress, and Eddie Fisher at the Oscars (1961) Darlene Hammond / Contributor / Getty

Her career continued to flourish throughout her many marriages and friendships. Taylor won her first Oscar for Best Actress in 1961 for the film, BUtterfield 8. In fact, the dress she wore when she won, which was missing for decades, was recently found packed away safely amongst her assistant’s things.

Taylor was convinced she wouldn’t win an Oscar that year, due to her recent marriage to Eddie Fisher, which stemmed from their scandalous affair. But after she did win, Taylor considered the dress to be her lucky charm and would often pack the garment and bring it with her whenever she travelled.

Man and woman in a film
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in “Cleopatra” (1963) Century Fox

A very big year for Taylor was 1963, as Cleopatra was released. A few years prior, she took a major hit from pneumonia, stalling the film’s production, but on the upside, she negotiated the first $1 million contract for an actor. Thank you, Cleopatra.

In typical Taylor fashion, she met her fifth husband on the movie set. Richard Burton, whom she left Eddie Fisher for, played Mark Antony opposite her Cleopatra. The two had a torrid love affair during filming and soon left their current spouses. Taylor and Burton married in 1964 and were together for 10 years.

Woman looking into distance; young Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor in “The Taming of the Shrew” (1967) Productions

Taylor received her second Oscar for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). The Taming of the Shrew, another movie she did with Burton, came out in 1967. Both films were massive successes.

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Taylor’s personal life

During Taylor and Burton’s marriage, they adopted a daughter, Maria, from Germany. Burton also adopted Taylor’s first daughter, Liza Todd. The couple split up in 1974, remarried in 1975 and broke up for good in 1976.

Man and woman holding hands boarding ship
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (1965) Bettmann / Contributor / Getty

John Warner became Taylor’s seventh husband from 1976 to 1982. She then experienced her longest period between spouses, not marrying Larry Fortensk until 1991. The couple was together for five years, but Fortensky, a construction worker, was unfamiliar with the spotlight. Eventually, the glitz and glamour became too much for him and they split.

Taylor’s life outside of acting

Elizabeth Taylor holding an award
Elizabeth Taylor receives the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her activist efforts (1993) Barry King / Contributor / Getty

Elizabeth Taylor was a longtime activist, mainly fighting for the research of HIV/AIDS. She often used her platform to speak out about the disease, especially after she lost friend Rock Hudson to it. In 1985, Taylor co-founded The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). In 1991, she established the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, which provided direct support to patients. Taylor’s activist efforts earned her the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993.

Elizabeth Taylor holding perfume bottle
Elizabeth Taylor with her new perfume “White Diamonds” (1991)Rick Maiman / Contributor / Getty

Taylor even launched an award-winning perfume empire in 1987, with her first fragrance, Passion. According to her official site, “Elizabeth believed that a well-chosen perfume is an essential accessory for every woman.” Her iconic scent, White Diamonds, was released in 1991.

In 1997, Taylor found out she had a benign brain tumor. Though she had suffered from many major illnesses before, this was one of the most significant. However, Taylor recovered well and continued with her life. 

Elizabeth Taylor sitting with pin
Elizabeth Taylor becomes Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2000) Dave Benett / Contributor / Getty

In 2000, Queen Elizabeth II made Taylor Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. A year later, Taylor received the Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contribution to American culture.

Elizabeth Taylor with award
Elizabeth Taylor receives Kennedy Center Honors (2001) Adele Starr / Stringer / Getty

Elizabeth Taylor was sadly taken from the world in 2011 at age 79, due to congestive heart failure. Though the world lost her too early, Elizabeth Taylor will forever be remembered for her stunning beauty, incredible activism and her astounding acting career.

For more of your favorite celebrities, keep reading!

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