Elizabeth Taylor is known for a few things. She was one of the world’s great beauties when she was younger. She had violet eyes. She acted since she was 9. She married 7 times, and some of those times were to Dick Burton. Luscious Lyon gave Boo Boo Kitty the same engagement ring Burton gave Taylor on Empire.
Taylor is also known for founding the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991 and for testifying to Congress on behalf of Ryan White, the teenage boy with hemophilia who got AIDS and was not allowed to continue to go to school. She is less famous, however, for bravely setting up a safe house out of her Bel Air home to test some not-quite-legal drugs to help those suffering from HIV/AIDS. According to Entertainment Online, Kathy Ireland, a model and AIDS activist who knew about Taylor’s activities, referred to Taylor as “fearless.”
In a similar vein to what Ron Woodroof did in Dallas (the story told in the film The Dallas Buyers’ Club), Taylor helped people back in a time when the government treated the disease as a joke.
“A lot of the work that [Taylor] did, it was illegal, but she was saving lives,” Ireland said. “It was in a time when it was not something to do. Business associates pleaded with her, ‘Leave this thing alone.’ She received death threats. Friends hung up on her when she asked for help, but something that I love about Elizabeth is her courage.”
It’s hard to imagine today that any of Taylor’s actions would merit death threats or ending friendships. In the 1980s, the stigma of being gay was so intense that, even as many men were dying, it was considered “bad for business” to help them. Taylor risked quite a lot to help those with HIV/AIDS.
Since its founding in 1991, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation has raised millions in awareness and research.
Watch a report on the story from Entertainment Tonight in the video below:
Featured image via Twitter