ELIZABETH TAYLOR

February 27, 1932 in London – March 23, 2011 in Los Angeles

Our country was going through tragic times on March 23, 2011, however, we could not ignore the passing of a woman who, through her unwavering commitment, succeeded in shining a spotlight on an epidemic that still wreaks havoc in our country. Requiem for the greatest activist in the fight against AIDS.

The voice of the one who declared at a party in Cannes: “I come before you, not as an actress but as the spokesperson for those who live with AIDS. I am the advocate of the child who is dying in a poor country, the voice of the drug addict from a poor neighborhood in the heart of the city, the witness of the prostitute abandoned on a sidewalk” has died forever at the age of 79. 

This evening will mark the beginning of a Cannes tradition, the famous Amfar gala, which Sharon Stone has now taken over.

In 70 years of career and nearly 50 films, Elizabeth Taylor was the last Giant of the Hollywood Golden Age. Symbol of glamour and sensuality in cinema, she who lent her beauty and her violet eyes to Cleopatra, committed herself in the 80s in the fight against AIDS. 

Entitled by the Queen of England in May 2000, Dame Elizabeth Taylor tirelessly used her charisma, energy and notoriety in the service of what she called her “commitment to life”. Her most enduring legacy will undoubtedly be her relentless fight against AIDS, so much so that she contributed to improving the lives of millions of people around the world and especially to bringing them out of the shadows and out of shame. Liz Taylor was the first artist to publicly commit herself to raising awareness and organizing the fight against AIDS. She led the way, followed by other celebrities such as Princess Diana, the singer Bono and others. (Exergue)

In 1985, it was the death of her friend and film partner Rock Hudson, who died of the disease, that gave her a shock. I watched all the news about this new disease and wondered why no one was doing anything about it,” she says at the time. 

Then I realized I was just like them. I wasn’t doing anything to help. Elizabeth Taylor knew that the cause would be difficult to defend, and she was not discouraged by the slowness of the authorities to react, the panic that set in, or the attitudes of rejection of the victims. She has the brilliant idea to mobilize the artists. Despite the fear of being associated with such a terrifying disease at the time, she eventually won Hollywood over to her cause. 

At the end of 1985, she founded with Kevin Frost the American Foundation for AIDS Research: Amfar. She brought the public and the media on board in her fight, and appeared in TV commercials to raise awareness among as many people as possible. From the beginning of the epidemic, the front line was made up of “researchers, activists and Elizabeth Taylor”, underlines Kate Krauss, program director of the fight against AIDS. 

Elizabeth Taylor, who has long maintained that there is no cure for AIDS, was very committed to finding a cure for AIDS. She did everything she could to convince legislators to fund care for the sick and did not hesitate to criticize George Bush Sr. for his lack of effort in this area. 

“Your policies are bad, terribly bad, and you know it!”  In Vancouver, about the triple therapy drugs that were beginning to take off, she attacked the Canadian government for refusing to make them available: “Frankly, I really expected better from a rich, developed country!” In 1989, she traveled to Thailand, where AIDS was spreading rapidly, to visit a hospital. 

The fact that she didn’t treat the sick or HIV-positive as outcasts, that she touched them, kissed them, had her picture taken with them, had a phenomenal impact,” Krauss says.

Everything is good to collect money. In 1991, she sold the photos of her eighth wedding for one million dollars, all of which was donated to Amfar. The same year, she created her own organization, The Elisabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, in order to expand her action. 

Very quickly, not content with supporting these collections carried out by her associations, she took advantage of the international influence of the Cannes Festival to host galas and private parties. In 1993, she organized a special screening of the film with Sylvester Stallone, Cliffhanger, at the Palais des Festivals (300 francs a ticket), then a gala dinner at the Moulin de Mougins (13,000 francs a plate) to which the film gotha rushed. In 1995, she auctioned the dress she wore to present the Oscar for Best Film in 1969, sold for 167,000 dollars. Sum immediately given to the Amfar. 

The woman whose passion for jewelry of high lineage was notorious, went so far as to sell some pieces of her fabulous collection as the Krupp Diamond of 33.19 carats (6.64 grams), or the Taylor-Burton Diamond of 69.42 carats in the shape of a pear that was offered by her husband Richard Burton. It was sold at auction in 1978 for $5,000,000, which was used to build a hospital in Botswana.

 An estimated $50 million (€35 million) was raised for AIDS research funds. After having contributed to the creation of AmFar, she also created The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, encouraging the rich and the less rich to make donations.  Liz Taylor will raise no less than 270 million dollars for research against the disease! 

A few days after her death, it was announced that her jewelry collection (estimated in 2002 at about 109.5 million euros, or 150 million dollars) will be auctioned for the benefit of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and AmfAR, it was her last will! Beyond death, she continues to fight against this disease, we told you so… INFATIGABLE! 

Cassandre Konan (AKA)

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