“In a 1999 interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters, Taylor revealed how she ultimately wanted to be remembered. Asked what she’d like to have written on her tombstone, Taylor replied, “‘Here lies Liz. She lived,’” before admitting, “No, I don’t like ‘Liz.’ I hate that name. ‘Here lies Elizabeth. She hated being called Liz. But she lived.’”
ABC News reports this morning:
“She was surrounded by her children: Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd, and Maria Burton,” Taylor’s publicist, Sally Morrison, said in a statement.
In the same statement, Michael Wilding, 58, memorialized his mother:
“My Mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love,” he said. “Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts.”
In addition to her children, Taylor is survived by 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Morrison said that a private family funeral will be held later this week. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that contributions be made to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and said that those wanting to send personal messages can log on to Taylor’s official Facebook page.
UPDATE: PLEASE ALSO CHECK OUT THE POZ MAGAZINE INTERVIEW WITH TAYLOR CONDUCTED BY KEVIN SESSUMS WITH PHOTOS BY RODDY MCDOWALL.
UPDATE: The Washington Blade has a nice piece on Taylor’s connection to Washington DC.
Sen. Feinstein also issued a statement:
“California has lost a great star today. Elizabeth Taylor in ‘National Velvet’ inspired my childhood love of horses. Her passion for life and devotion to those less fortunate will continue to inspire me and others. I send my condolences to her family, and to her fans all over the world. Elizabeth was one of the greats and will be remembered as such.”
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) deeply mourns the death of actress and HIV/AIDS advocate Elizabeth Taylor today. Taylor launched a second career as an AIDS activist in 1985 when she organized APLA’s first “Commitment to Life” event, which would go on to become the biggest AIDS fundraiser in history.
“It’s impossible to underestimate Elizabeth Taylor’s impact on the fight against AIDS from the very beginning,” said APLA Executive Director Craig E. Thompson. “We’re simply devastated by her loss.”
For Taylor, the fight against AIDS became personal from the start. While she and her publicist worked in the first months of 1985 to organize the inaugural “Commitment to Life” event, she would learn that her friend and co-star Rock Hudson was dying of the disease.
Despite – and because of — widespread silence within the entertainment community, Taylor worked to pack the Bonaventure Hotel for the gala, which raised $1.3 million. More than 2,500 attended, and Taylor took the stage to present the first Commitment to Life award to First Lady Betty Ford. Among the attendees were Abigail Van Buren, Cher, Sammy Davis, Jr., Burt Lancaster, Cyndi Lauper, Shirley MacLaine, Rod Stewart, and Stevie Wonder.
Taylor was honored at the following year’s Commitment to Life gala, and the event continued annually for more than a decade, raising millions for APLA’s work in Los Angeles.
Her AIDS activism reached far beyond entertainment circles and into the political arena, as well. In 1986, she co-founded The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and testified before a U.S. Senate Committee in support of federal funding for HIV care and treatment.
In 1991, she launched The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which continues to provide funding for HIV and AIDS programs globally, including those at APLA. Taylor herself remained a fierce advocate for HIV-related work. She appeared as recently as 2009 on the stage of Macy’s and American Express Passport in Los Angeles – another annual event that she helped found, which has raised more than $28 million for AIDS organizations, including APLA, over its three decades. “Today, we’ve lost one of the boldest advocates our community has seen,” Thompson said, “but her tremendous impact lives with us.”
SEN. BARBARA BOXER ISSUED THIS STATEMENT:
“A bold and passionate leader in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, Elizabeth Taylor was among the first to call attention to this disease, doing everything in her power to offer a voice to those who had none. Her extensive efforts helped educate the public and lawmakers about the need for research, treatment and compassion for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.”