Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Elizabeth Taylor has died aged 79, her publicist has confirmed.
The London-born gay icon died of heart failure at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles last night surrounded by her family.
She had been suffering from a congestive heart problem since 2004 and had endured years of poor health.
Taylor, who was known as one of the most beautiful women in the world during her prime, was married eight times to seven husbands.
She leaves four children, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The star reportedly planned to be buried next one of her former husbands, Richard Burton.
She was a strong supporter of gay rights and a fan of a number of Los Angeles gay bars.
In 2008, she attended a party to celebrate the passing of California’s gay marriage legislation in her wheelchair.
The AIDS crisis began in 1981. Virtually nothing was done until a group of activists called; "ACT-UP" emerged in the mid 1980's. Dame Elizabeth was at the steering while of this national group using her fame to ensure funds were given to AMfAR (The American Foundation for AIDS Research) by speaking out all over the country. She demanded money. The Act-UP movement lasted about ten years, though there are still some chapters today. But by 1986, friends were attending weekly funerals. Drugs were 'experimental' and could not be safely released by the FDA. And people continued to die. Primarily, the gay population had had it by 1987 and formed "ACT-UP" (slogan: "ACT UP-FIGHT BACK-FIGHT AIDS"). I was proud to be a part of this movement in Los Angeles, California. Together we insisted that drugs be released into the public sector pronto, more clinical trials be conducted, expenses to cover the drugs were available, and we spoke out against the church, civil rights and necessary insurance coverage. If we hadn't done that, we would have still continued to perish. Dame Elizabeth uttered a true statement in 1987 when saying that "President Regan had never even mentioned the word AIDS" (at least to her). She supplied the name and the clout regarding fund raising and we, along with our leader Activist Larry Kramer, marched through city after city. After the release of more sophisticated drugs started in the mid-1990's, ACT-UP (for the most part) fizzled out or simmered, at best. But we must never disband entirely because soon we are going to have to march for the ultimate: "A cure". People remember to donate if you can.
By Richard Bassett, *2008
The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation
c/o Derrick Lee
Reback Lee & Company, Inc.
12400 Wilshire Blvd #1275
LA, Ca. 90025