On this day in 1991, the actress Elizabeth Taylor marries her seventh husband, the construction worker Larry Fortensky, in a ceremony held at the pop singer Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in California. Taylor, a Hollywood screen legend known for her violet-eyed beauty and her roles in such movies as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Cleopatra, reportedly met the two-decades-younger Fortensky at the high-profile Betty Ford Center for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation. The pair divorced in 1996.
Taylor was born on February 27, 1932, in London, England, and began her acting career after moving to California with her family as a young girl. Her early credits include There’s One Born Every Minute (1942), Lassie Come Home (1943) and National Velvet (1944), which made her a star. She went on to appear in hit films such as Father of the Bride (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956) and Raintree County (1957), for which she received her first Best Actress nomination. She solidified her sexy image in 1958’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which earned her a second Best Actress Oscar nomination. After receiving a third Academy Award nomination for 1959’s Suddenly Last Summer, Taylor took home her first Best Actress Oscar for her performance in 1960’s Butterfield 8. She was paid a then-record $1 million for playing the title role in Cleopatra (1963), a heavily hyped box-office bomb that also featured Richard Burton, her future husband and frequent co-star. The pair appeared together in 1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which marked Mike Nichols’ directorial debut and garnered Taylor her second Academy Award in the Best Actress category. Taylor continued to make movies throughout the 1970s. During the 1980s, she turned to theater and also devoted herself to fighting AIDS, which killed her close friend, the actor Rock Hudson, in 1985. She also became a fixture in the tabloids for her battle with weight and her stormy romantic life.
Taylor tied the knot for the first time at the age of 17, with the hotel heir Nicky Hilton. The union was short-lived and in 1952, Taylor wed the actor Michael Wilding. That marriage, which produced two sons, officially ended in 1957, the same year in which Taylor married husband number three, the producer Mike Todd. The couple had a daughter before Todd was killed in a plane crash in 1958. The actress later found herself at the center of a scandal when she was blamed for the breakup of the marriage between the popular entertainers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Taylor and Fisher were husband and wife from 1959 to 1964; she left him for Richard Burton. Taylor and Burton’s famously tempestuous union lasted from 1964 to 1974. A year later, the couple remarried and divorced for a second time. Taylor was wed to U.S. Senator John Warner from 1976 to 1982. Following the dissolution in 1996 of her five-year marriage to Larry Fortensky, Taylor remained single—until her death in March of 2011.