Elizabeth Taylor: A Tale of Eight Marriages and Seven Husbands

Elizabeth Taylor: A Tale of Eight Marriages and Seven Husbands
Image credit: Legion-Media

A life worthy of a movie adaptation.

Conrad (Nicky) Hilton, Jr.

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Taylor married for the first time at a very young age. She had just become a famous actress and barely turned 18. Her mother insisted she get married because, more than anything, she wanted to see her daughter rich. So it was an arranged marriage to Conrad Hilton Jr.

Unfortunately, things started going wrong from the get-go, during the honeymoon. The newly-minted husband liked to be the centre of attention and wasn't at all fond of the fact that the reporters were interested in his new wife and were paying little attention, if any, to him. He started drinking and, before long, beating on Elizabeth. Elizabeth tried to get out of the marriage, but her mother wouldn't hear of it.

What finally did it was when Elizabeth had a miscarriage following another beating by her husband. She filed for divorce, and when the judge asked her how much she wanted of her husband's impressive fortune, she said she didn't want a prize for such a monumental failure.

Michael Wilding

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Elizabeth married her second husband the same year she divorced her first. This time it was Michael Wilding, a mediocre actor, whom Taylor had to win over from Marlene Dietrich.

Once the victory was secured, Elizabeth proposed to Wilding and even bought the ring. Elizabeth's second matrimonial adventure was considerably less successful than her first one: the couple had two children together. They never really had big fights, but Wilding lacked personality and initiative, so Taylor got bored and dumped him for another man five years later.

Michael Todd

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Husband number three was also a Michael. The difference was that this new Michael had personality and initiative in spades and then some. He proposed practically as soon as the two started dating. Liz later claimed they had barely even held hands before Mike popped the question.

The first eighteen months were like a fairy tale: the man was crazy about his young wife(when they met, he was almost twice Liz's age) and showered her with expensive gifts. They celebrated their "wedding anniversary" every Saturday, and Liz got a jewellery piece as a gift each time.

They were almost never apart, and finally, in 1957, the couple had their long-awaited child, a daughter. The happiness ended abruptly in tragedy: Michael Todd crashed in his private plane.

Eddie Fisher

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Musician Eddie Fisher appealed to Liz Taylor precisely because he was, at first glance, very similar to the husband she had just tragically lost. In fact, Eddie was Michael Todd's protege, and he tried to act and be like his mentor, and that ambition included marrying his widow. Unfortunately, Eddie was nothing like Michael. Liz wanted somebody as daring as Michael, and Eddie was the opposite of that. As soon as Liz saw that, she doubled down on her work in cinema to keep busy and take her mind off things. And it was on the set of the iconic movie Cleopatra that Liz got lucky in love again.

Richard Burton

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Richard was Liz's partner on set: he played Mark Antony. They didn't like each other at first. However, despite the initial animosity, the on-screen romance gradually spilt over into real life, even though Burton was married at the time.

The tabloids soon picked up on it, and the whole thing exploded into a massive scandal in the press. Burton had no choice but to file for divorce promptly. Richard and Liz married in Toronto, where they also spent their honeymoon. All through their marriage, they exchanged extravagantly expensive gifts. Thus, Taylor gave Burton a Van Gough painting, and he gave her a 33.19-carat ring. But this fairy tale soon began to turn into a nightmare.

Liz and Richard started fighting, and they both got addicted to alcohol. Soon they could no longer take it and filed for divorce, but a little over a month later, they married again. It was a nasty case of can't-live-with-can't-live-without. They just couldn't get along. Their second marriage only lasted a year. Richard met another woman, Suzy Hunt. Liz was soon seeing someone else too. And yet, they also kept hooking up with each other, despite each being in another relationship. Until her dying day, Liz Taylor referred to Richard Burton as her second greatest love, the first one being Michael Todd.

John Warner

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All of Elizabeth Talyor's husbands had been actors, musicians and entrepreneurs up to this point.

John Warner broke the pattern: his dream was a career in politics.

In fact, he was only interested in Liz as a means to an end: he even got her to sell her famous Cartier-Barton diamond to raise money for his election campaign. He did pull it off and became a Virginia senator. But Taylor's feelings for him faded in the process: she quickly got bored with staying in the shadow of an ambitious husband while financing his political endeavours, attending boring receptions and writing his campaign speeches. Liz began succumbing to apathy and stress, which led to eating lots of comfort food. She soon gained so much weight that a random woman on the street commented that all women had wanted to be like Liz Taylor for so long that God had finally heard their prayers and made Liz Taylor look like them. At that point, Richard Burton passed away, and seeing how broken up she was over his death, John Warner filed for divorce.

Larry Fortensky

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Liz Taylor met her seventh husband in a rehab clinic where she was being treated for addiction to alcohol and sedatives after another traumatic breakup. The two soon got very close and had a huge wedding at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch. Liz and MJ were very close friends by then. She had also become an avid AIDS campaigner, selling even more jewellery to raise money for the cause.

This new marriage didn't last long, and the divorce was painful both emotionally and financially: Larry walked away with millions of dollars.

That was when Liz decided that it was time to give up her attempts at family life, although she carried on dating (at age 64, no less).