It is a sad day in Hollywood. Elizabeth Taylor’s publicist is telling news organizations that she has passed away at 79 from congestive heart failure. The British-born child star who grew up to become one of the world’s most famous actresses and great beauties and dedicated AIDS activists, whose complex personal life often overwhelmed her Oscar-winning professional career, was admitted last month to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for treatment of congestive heart failure.

Taylor missed a scheduled appearance at an amfAR benefit gala last month in New York, where she was to receive an award alongside President Bill Clinton and designer Diane von Furstenberg, celebrating their dedication to AIDS research. Elton john accepted the honor on her behalf and read a message from her: “I am there in spirit and I join you in saluting my fellow honorees and all these extraordinary leaders. I am inspired by their example, exhilarated by their vision, and encouraged by their compassion and love. And I love them in return.” Taylor appeared in more than 50 films and won Academy Awards for her performances in Butterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) as well as an Honorary Oscar in 1993 for her AIDS activism. She had eight marriages, most famously to the love of her life Hollywood producer Mike Todd and two times to actor Richard Burton.

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