Two decades later, Taylor shocked her fans when she checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic in California for treatment of alcohol addiction in 1983. She later required treatment for prescription drugs, as well.
But despite a history of painkiller abuse, prosecutors found that three doctors over-prescribed pain medication to ease her back pain in 1990. The case was eerily similar to that of her good friend, Michael Jackson's, ongoing medical investigation into his death.
"The records reveal Taylor has suffered from substance abuse for many years, principally involving pain medication and alcohol," a medical expert said in a report issued by the Los Angeles district prosecutor's office.
That same year, Taylor came down with viral pneumonia and underwent lung surgery. She relapsed in 1992.
And in the five years that followed, Taylor had two hip-replacement surgeries and one surgery for a benign brain tumor. After falling in her Bel Aire home on her 66th birthday, Taylor also suffered a compression fracture in her lower back. Later in 1999, the actress fell again and reinjured her back.
And three years later, she was treated with radiation therapy for basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.
In 2004, Taylor summed it up by telling W Magazine, "My body's a real mess. If you look at it in the mirror, it's just completely convex and concave."
But, in the same interview, Taylor revealed that she is not afraid to die.
"Really, I'm not -- because I've been there," she said.
That same year, Taylor was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. She had been in and out of hospitals, and in and out of the tabloids documenting her rumored health, ever since.
In October 2009, Taylor took to her Twitter to explain to fans a heart procedure that she would undergo. She said the surgery was "very new and involved repairing my leaky valve using a clip device, without heart surgery so that my heart will function better."
While Taylor will be remembered as a legendary actress who embodied old Hollywood glamour, she stood for much more. Since the mid-1980s, Taylor was known as a tireless advocate for HIV/AIDS. Her work began with fundraising for an AIDS Project Los Angeles dinner, the first major AIDS benefit ever held. And, in October, 1991, Taylor founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, an organization that provides funding to AIDS service organizations throughout the world to assist those living with HIV and AIDS.
Taylor has testified before Congress in support of the Ryan White CARE Act, the U.S.'s largest federally funded program for people living with AIDS. The Act was created in honor of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who contracted AIDS through a tainted hemophilia treatment. White was expelled from school because of the disease.
The actress also spoke before the National Press Club and addressed the United Nations General Assembly on World AIDS Day.
Just Wednesday, Taylor tweeted a newly published Harper's Bazaar article, where reality star Kim Kardashian sat down and chatted with the legend.
In the interview, Taylor said: "I have been supremely lucky in my life in that I have known great love, and of course, I am the temporary custodian of some incredible and beautiful things."