Elizabeth Taylor Was the First Actress to Command a $1M Paycheck for ‘Cleopatra’; What Was Her Net Worth?

Elizabeth Taylor Was the First Actress to Command a $1M Paycheck for ‘Cleopatra’; What Was Her Net Worth?
Cover Image Source: Actress Elizabeth Taylor (1932 - 2011) stars in the MGM film, 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof', 1958. | Getty Images | Photo by Archive Photos

Name Elizabeth Taylor
Net Worth $600 Million
Date of Birth February 27, 1932 
Date of Death March 23, 2011
Age 79 Years 
Gender Female
Profession Actor, Film Producer
Nationality United States of America

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Elizabeth Taylor, a British-American actress, stands as an enduring symbol of Hollywood glamour and talent. With a net worth of $600 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, she has left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Taylor's cinematic journey began at a young age, and her financial success is evident not only in her iconic films but also in her diverse sources of income.

British-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian Elizabeth Taylor (1932 - 2011) at Heathrow Airport, London, UK, 25th November 1960. Getty Images | Photo by Stroud
British-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian Elizabeth Taylor at Heathrow Airport, London. Getty Images | Photo by Stroud

Elizabeth Taylor's journey began as a child star, earning attention for her distinctive violet eyes and talent. Taylor's initial sources of income included film contracts with major studios like MGM and Universal Pictures. Her acting debut in "There's One Born Every Minute" marked the beginning of a trajectory that would lead to a seven-year contract with MGM, catapulting her into the limelight at the tender age of twelve.

As Taylor transitioned into adulthood, her roles became more mature, showcasing her versatility as an actress. Critical acclaim followed her performance in "A Place in the Sun" (1951), where she played a pampered socialite alongside Montgomery Clift and Shelley Winters. The success of this film, which earned six Oscars, was a testament to Taylor's burgeoning career. Subsequent roles in MGM productions like "Love is Better Than Ever" and "Ivanhoe" continued to contribute to her income, establishing her as one of Hollywood's leading actresses in the 1950s.

The latter half of the 1950s and the early 1960s marked the pinnacle of Taylor's critical success. Films like "Giant" (1956) and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958) showcased her acting prowess and added to her financial success. Her collaboration with Richard Burton in "Cleopatra" (1963) made headlines not only for their on-screen chemistry but also for Taylor becoming the first actress to command a $1 million paycheck. The super-couple's continued collaborations, culminating in the critically acclaimed "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966), were pivotal in shaping Taylor's diverse sources of income.

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American singer Eddie Fisher, wearing a tuxedo, stands with arm around his wife, American actor Debbie Reynolds (R) and smiles while looking at British-born actor Elizabeth Taylor, smoking a cigarette, Las Vegas, Nevada. The next year Fisher left Reynolds and married Taylor. Getty Images | Photo by Hulton Archive
American singer Eddie Fisher with his wife, American actor Debbie Reynolds (R) smiles while looking at Elizabeth Taylor. Getty Images | Photo by Hulton Archive

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Elizabeth Taylor's personal life was a captivating narrative that unfolded against the backdrop of her glamorous career. Her romantic escapades and eight marriages became fodder for intense media scrutiny, adding layers to her public persona. Taylor's first marriage, at the age of eighteen, was to Conrad Hilton Jr., an heir to the Hilton fortune. The union was short-lived, ending in divorce within eight months due to Hilton's abusive and alcoholic behavior. Subsequent marriages to actor Michael Wilding, producer Mike Todd (tragically killed in a plane crash in 1958), and an affair-turned-marriage with Eddie Fisher in 1959 brought both love and scandal into the spotlight.

Notably, it was during the filming of "Cleopatra" in 1962 that Taylor's love life took another dramatic turn. She began a well-publicized affair with Richard Burton who would become her famous screen partner. The two married in 1964 after Taylor's divorce from Fisher, marking the start of a tumultuous relationship that involved a second marriage in 1975 and a second divorce in 1976. Taylor's later marriages to Republican politician John Warner and construction worker Larry Fortensky were also marked by challenges, with the latter ending in 1996.

Beyond the tabloid headlines and tumultuous relationships, Taylor's life was characterized by her commitment to activism and philanthropy. She emerged as one of the first celebrities to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, contributing significantly to the cause by helping to raise over $270 million. Her advocacy extended to testifying before Congress in support of the Ryan White Care Act and establishing organizations to fund research and support services for those affected by the disease.

In addition to her philanthropic endeavors, Taylor was an ardent supporter of Jewish and Zionist causes, having converted to Judaism in 1959. Her involvement in raising funds for the Jewish National Fund and her role on the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center showcased her dedication to various humanitarian causes.

Actress Elizabeth Taylor and her groom, Conrad
Actress Elizabeth Taylor and her groom, Conrad "Nickie" Hilton, Jr. in the limousine | Getty Images

Academy Awards, USA (Oscar) – 1967: Best Actress for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

American Film Institute, USA – 1993: Life Achievement Award for Contributions to Cinema

Bambi Awards – 1968: Best Actress – International for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Berlin International Film Festival – 1972: Silver Berlin Bear for Best Actress in "Hammersmith Is Out"

BAFTA Awards – 1967: Best British Actress for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

David di Donatello Awards – 1967: Best Foreign Actress (Tied with Julie Christie) for "The Taming of The Shrew"

GLAAD Media Awards – 2000: Vanguard Award for "Cleopatra"

How many times was Elizabeth Taylor married?

Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times.

What was Elizabeth Taylor's most acclaimed film?

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" earned Elizabeth Taylor her second Academy Award for Best Actress.

How much did Elizabeth Taylor raise for HIV/AIDS awareness?

Elizabeth Taylor helped raise over $270 million for HIV/AIDS causes.

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