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Posted Wed, March 23, 2011 5:50pm EDT

Elizabeth Taylor Dead At 79 — See Her Life In 28 Photos

The movie queen, one of the world’s most famous and beautiful women, was battling congestive heart failure. She died in LA, surrounded by her four children from her eight marriages.

Elizabeth Taylor, the mega-star who had survived so many health problems, died today at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in LA. Still, her passing came as a bit of a shock– her heart condition had appeared to stabilize in recent weeks and loved ones hoped she might have been heading back home soon!

Elizabeth, 79, a two-time Oscar-winner who made dozens of major movies, was probably even more famous for her violet-eyed beauty, her voluptuous form and her eight stormy marriages — including two go-rounds with the man who seemed to be the true love of her life,  actor Richard Burton.

In her later years, Liz promoted her own jewelry and fragrance lines — including the popular Passion and White Diamonds scent — and became a leading promoter for AIDS charities and research after the death of her friend Rock Hudson in 1985.

Her son Michael Wilding, one of her four children, released this statement
“Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts.”

Family members, including Michael, Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd and Maria Burton were at her bedside.Liz had 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren — the kids she called the light of her life.

She was most visible to a new generation of fans as a staunch friend and supporter of Michael Jackson through all of his personal and legal woes.

Tributes from stars started to appear shortly after news of her death.

“We have just lost a Hollywood giant. More importantly, we have lost an incredible human being,” said Elton John, a close friend.

Liz had been hospitalized more than 70 times for illnesses that included sciatica and a brain tumor. She died on March 23 — the same date her third husband, showman Mike Todd, was killed in a plane crash in 1958.

Born in England to American parents, Liz became a Hollywood star as child, starting with Lassie Come Home, in which she co-starred with lifelong friend Roddy McDowall, and National Velvet, the film that shot her to enormous fame at age 12. Her first adult box-office success was the 1950 comedy Father of the Bride, with Spencer Tracy.

She married her first husband, hotel heir Conrad Hilton Jr., in 1950. Next came actor Michael Wilding in 1952 and the producer Mike Todd in 1957. After his death, she turned to singer Eddie Fisher, creating a major scandal when he left his wife Debbie Reyonlds to marry Liz in 1959.

Just two weeks ago, Liz and Debbie, 78, spoke one last time. “I said, ‘Getting old is really sh*t,’ ” Reynolds told Access Hollywood. “And she said, ‘It certainly is.’ ” In a statement, Debbie mourned her former rival by saying “no one else could equal Elizabeth’s beauty and sexuality. Women liked her and men adored her, and her love for her children is enduring.”

Liz’s marriage to Eddie ended spectacularly when Liz fell in love with co-star Richard Burton while shooting their big-budget flop Cleopatra in 1964.

With Richard, Liz would be embark on one of Hollywood’s most storied romances. They married and divorced twice, and fought it out on stage, screen and in real life. After taking her first Best Actress Oscar in 1960 for  BUtterfield 8, which co-starred Eddie, Liz won her second for her scathing role opposite Richard in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966.

After her marriages with Richard, she married a U.S. senator, John Warner in 1976. In 1991, Liz wed construction worker Larry Fortensky — who she had met at the Betty Ford Clinic, where they both were being treated for substance abuse. They divorced in 1996, and Liz never married again.

In one her last interviews, to promote her Violet Eyes fragrance, she told Us Magazine the film she was proudest of was Virginia Woolf, that she cut her own hair when her stylist was not available, that her very first memory was of pain  — and that she thought her legs were too short!

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