Elizabeth Taylor's Many Marriages

A look back at Elizabeth Taylor's eight marriages to seven men.

March 23, 2011, 11:20 AM

March 23, 2011 -- Elizabeth Taylor was a woman of abundance. She was endowed with outsized beauty, outsized fame and outsized appetites.

"I feel very adventurous," she was once quoted as saying. "There are so many doors to be opened, and I'm not afraid to look behind them."

Though a brilliant actress, her remarkable talent was frequently outshone by her offscreen antics. "My troubles all started because I have a woman's body and a child's emotions," she once said.

Over the years, she would become as famous (if not more) for her love life as for her acting.

She was married a staggering eight times to seven men -- she wed Richard Burton, the love of her life, twice.

Throughout her life, she noted, people would remark that she was blessed with everything. "I've got one answer," she said. "I haven't had tomorrow."

Sadly, there are no more tomorrows for Taylor, who died March 23, 2011 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, where she checked in six weeks earlier suffering from congestive heart failure. And perhaps just as sadly, no more lovers.

Here's a look back at her many marriages:

1. Conrad "Nicky" Hilton: May 1950 - Feb. 1951

The first of her many marriages was at just 18 to the heir to the Hilton hotel empire. Conrad Hilton (the great-uncle of Paris Hilton) was a socialite, playboy, gambler and businessman -- he would go on to head TWA. The union was brief and tumultuous: Hilton, an alcoholic, was physically and emotionally abusive to Taylor.

2. Michael Wilding: February 1952 - January 1957

Lasting a full five years, marriage number two -- to a British actor -- was substantially more successful than Taylor's first. The marriage was also Wilding's second. He was twice Taylor's age and gave her stability in the wreckage of her marriage to Hilton. The couple had two sons together -- Michael Jr. and Christopher -- but ultimately the relationship soured as Taylor's stardom increasingly outshone that of her husband.

3. Michael Todd: February 1957 - March 1958

Taylor was already pregnant with Todd's daughter, Liza, when they married. The flamboyant producer had wooed Taylor with lavish gifts and grand gestures. The relationship would be tempestuous, but apparently happy. Although Richard Burton has long been perceived as the love of Taylor's life, she said in one of her last interviews that "I was happiest with Mike Todd." Taylor was supposed to have been on the plane that crashed, killing Todd in 1958, but stayed home with a cold after her pleas to come along were overruled.

4. Eddie Fisher: May 1959 - March 1964

One of the world's most famous and successful singers in the 1950s -- selling millions of records and a host of his own TV show -- Fisher scandalously divorced his first wife, Debbie Reynolds, to marry Taylor. Fisher, who was a comfort to Taylor at Todd's funeral, had been Todd's best friend (and best man at their wedding). Unfavorable publicity surrounding the affair and divorce led NBC to cancel Fisher's television series in March 1959. When Taylor and Fisher wed, Taylor ostentatiously declared "Our honeymoon will last 40 years." Their marriage lasted only five.

Burton: The Tempestuous Love of Her Life

5. Richard Burton: March 1964 - June 1974
and6. Richard Burton: Oct 1975 - Aug 1976

Their relationship is the stuff of legend. One of the most famous and turbulent duos in Hollywood history, Taylor and Burton met on the set of Cleopatra in 1962 -- both were married at the time -- and launched into a passionate affair. On their first meeting on the set, Burton said "Has anyone ever told you that you're a very pretty girl?" Taylor later recalled, "I said to myself, Oy gevalt, here's the great lover, the great wit, the great intellectual of Wales, and he comes out with a line like that."

So scandalous was their union that the Vatican denounced their relationship as an affront to morality. An undaunted Taylor said of their tempestuous relationship, "If Richard and I divorce, I swear I will never marry anyone again. I love him insanely." Their first marriage would be Taylor's longest, lasting a full decade.

In the interim between her marriages to Burton, Taylor was the companion to the Iranian ambassador to Washington, Ardeshir Zahedi. The relationship began while she was still with Burton -- both divorced their partners during the relationship -- and Taylor traveled with him to Tehran for a time. Ultimately, Shah Reza Pahlavi convinced Zahedi to end his affair with Taylor, and Taylor returned to Burton.

They would remarry 16 months after their divorce, in the Chobe National Park, Botswana. In 1964, the couple adopted a 3-year-old German girl they named Maria. The two starred in a number of films together, most notably in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" which was likened in the popular imagination to the couple's real-life marriage. The tumult of their stormy relationship, however, was exacerbated by Burton's drinking and within a year the couple would be divorced again. Burton would marry twice more before his death in 1984.

7. John Warner: December 1976 - November 1982

A World War II veteran, Republican politician and five-term Senator, Warner met Taylor on the Washington diplomatic circuit when he was serving as Nixon's secretary of the Navy. Despite being a lifelong Democrat, Taylor bucked her party to assiduously campaign for Warner in his first successful bid for senator of Virginia. He would hold the seat much longer than he would Taylor -- the couple divorced in 1982.

8. Larry Fortensky: Oct. 1991 - Oct. 1996

Taylor's last marriage was also her unlikeliest. She met the mullet-topped Fortensky -- a construction worker 20 years her junior -- when they were both doing a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic. The two were married at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. "This is it, forever," she said at the time. Five years later she would file for divorce.

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