Not many women can burn through five dozen film roles, two Oscar wins, three more nominations, seven husbands, six marriages, and four kids while still finding the time to look stunning – but actress Elizabeth Taylor makes it work, albeit with a few bumps along the way.

The woman we now know as Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 in Hampstead, England to American parents.  Taylor’s experience as a performer began at three years old, when she took ballet lessons in London.  However, World War 2 broke out when Taylor was only seven, forcing her family to return to the United States.

After a family friend encouraged Taylor to pursue a career in acting (a career that her mother had held years before), Taylor went to Universal Studios for screen tests. 

By the time she was 11, she had small rolls in films like There’s One Born Every Minute, Lassie Come Home and Jane Eyre.  At twelve years old, she landed the lead role in National Velvet, securing herself a steady position as a Hollywood starlet.

Taylor become well known for her screen roles, landing Oscar nominations for Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer, and winning the gold statue twice for Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.  

Her first marriage in 1950, to Conrad Hilton Jr., lasted only a year,  and throughout her career Taylor married seven more times (including twice to actor Richard Burton).

Yet despite her notoriety when it came to marriage, Taylor defined herself as one of the most influential style icons of the 20th century.  Her face alone was quite striking – her bright violet-blue eyes and the beauty mark on her chin became her trademarks, and she was never afraid of playing up her bold eyebrows.  

Everything about Elizabeth Taylor’s wardrobe was luxurious.  In her earlier years, she preferred elegant dresses and pea coats, but as the years progressed she began to take more style risks. 

Even her simplest outfits were played up with extravagant amounts of jewellery, her preference being diamonds. 

She boasts an impressive collection of the jewels, including the 33.9 carat Krupp diamond and a 69.42 carat pear shaped diamond, both gifts from Burton.  Fittingly, she released her own jewellery line in 2005 (House of Taylor Jewellery), as well as three perfumes named White Diamonds, Black Pearls, and Passion.

Taylor is now 76 and is now facing different kinds of struggles in her life, including a recent health care issue, which caused her to be admitted to the hospital (newspapers say she will be fine).  Although she has retired from the silver screen, Dame Elizabeth Taylor has no intention of giving up her diamonds.

Photos courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.