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Actress Elizabeth Taylor dies

JTA

March 23, 2011 | 10:25 am

Academy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor, who maintained a support for Israel after converting to Judaism in the late 1950s, has died.

Taylor, known for her violet eyes and her plethora of husbands, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for about six weeks. She was 79.

Taylor converted to Judaism following the death of her third husband, Mike Todd, who was Jewish, in a plane crash and before marrying Jewish actor Eddie Fisher.

She denied that she had converted because of her Jewish husbands, saying that she had wanted to do it “for a long time.” Her 1959 conversion at Temple Israel of Hollywood was well attended by the press.

Taylor made a point of traveling to Israel and fundraising for the Jewish state during the Arab boycott in the 1970s. Her films were banned in much of the Arab world. She was a supporter of the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles.

In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit challenging Taylor’s ownership of a Van Gogh painting that was claimed by a Jewish family. The family said the painting was looted from their relatives during the Holocaust.

A child star, Taylor won two Oscars for best actress, and is remembered for her roles in “National Velvet” and “Cleopatra,” among many others.

She also supported with her time and money several AIDS-related charities, including founding the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation.

Taylor was a friend and staunch supporter of Michael Jackson when he was accused of molesting children. Jackson wrote the song “Elizabeth, I Love You” and performed it at her 65th birthday celebration.

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