Gay Icon Elizabeth Taylor Dies at 79

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Legendary Actress and gay icon Elizabeth Taylor died Wednesday morning at the age of 79, the Associated Press reported.

The actress died in the Los Angeles hospital where she had been admitted two months earlier for congestive heart failure.

Among her legendary movie roles, Taylor played Leslie Benedict opposite Rock Hudson in the 1956 epic Giant, Margaret “Maggie the Cat” Pollitt opposite Paul Newman and Burt Ives in the 1958 big screen adaptation of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and the lead role in the 1963 blockbuster Cleopatra. She met her future husband Richard Burton on the set of Cleopatra. She would go on to marry eight times in total.

Taylor reportedly died surrounded by her four children – Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd and Maria Burton – at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest with great passion, humor and love,” said Michael Wilding in a statement.

After the 1985 death of actor Rock Hudson from AIDS complications at the age of 59, Taylor became a leading advocate for AIDS research, raising millions for non-profits.

From amfAR: “The board of trustees and staff of amfAR mourn the passing of our beloved Founding International Chairman, Dame Elizabeth Taylor. Dame Elizabeth was without doubt one of the most inspirational figures in the fight against AIDS. She was among the first to speak out on behalf of people living with HIV when others reacted with fear and often outright hostility.

“For 25 years, Dame Elizabeth has been a passionate advocate of AIDS research, treatment and care. She has testified eloquently on Capitol Hill, while raising millions of dollars for amfAR. Dame Elizabeth’s compassion, radiance, and generosity of spirit will be greatly missed by us all. She leaves a monumental legacy that has improved and extended millions of lives and will enrich countless more for generations to come.”
   
And from GLAAD: “Today, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community lost an extraordinary ally in the movement for full equality,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “At a time when so many living with HIV/AIDS were invisible, Dame Taylor fearlessly raised her voice to speak out against injustice. Dame Taylor was an icon not only in Hollywood, but in the LGBT community where she worked to ensure that everyone was treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve.”

In lieu of flowers, her family has asked that donations be made to her life’s work, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

Check back later for a dot429 exclusive story by a personal friend of the screen legend.

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