Reader Rick Wheeler left some Elizabeth Taylor-related questions for me at my desk in our Valparaiso office he hoped I could answer.
"While reading an item earlier this month in the Sunday Parade magazine inserted in The Times, I realized when Elizabeth Taylor married Richard Burton the first time, it was on March 15, 1964 and March 15 is also the Ides of March. I know she was superstitious, so was it planned on this date on purpose? Also, when I received a recent letter asking for donations from amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research Taylor started in 1985, I noticed her name no longer appears on their letterhead as the founder and chairperson, which doesn't seem right to me. Lastly, is it true that Elizabeth's grandchildren are following in her footsteps with hopes of Hollywood careers? Thank you for your columns. Sincerely, Rick Wheeler."
Thank you for your questions. In 1960, Taylor became the highest-paid actress up to that time when she signed a $1 million dollar contract to play the title role in 20th Century Fox's lavish production "Cleopatra," filmed in Rome and released in 1963. While on location, she began a public romance with Burton, despite the fact that both were already married to other people. She married Burton, her fifth husband, on March 15, 1964 and yes, that date is in fact "the Ides of March," the day on the Roman calendar marked by several religious observances, and notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.
Because Taylor and Burton had just made "Cleopatra" in Rome, which references Caesar's fate and this date, it is likely the couple realized the date's significance.
As for any changes in the association of Taylor with amfAR, you'll be pleased to know that great honors still await her name and memory.
"From the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic until her passing in 2011, Elizabeth Taylor had a passionate, unwavering commitment to human rights by raising awareness and fighting for a cure," said Joel Goldman, managing director of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which is affiliated with amfAR, in announcing that nominations are open until April 30 for The Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award. The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated excellence as a leader and advocate for human rights in the field of HIV/AIDS. FYI: amfar.org
And as for Taylor's family continuing in her performance tradition, you'll be pleased to know her 23-year-old grandson Rhys Tivey is now in the spotlight as a jazz trumpeter after graduating from New York University in 2012. He performed "Amazing Grace" at his maternal grandmother's 2011 funeral. His debut alum "No Voice, No More" was released in January. Tivey is the son of sculptor Liza Todd, Taylor's only child with film producer Mike Todd.