Forty-three years ago on August 1, 1976, actress Elizabeth Taylor filed for her second divorce from actor Richard Burton. The second divorce marked six divorces total for Taylor, who has had a string of highly-publicized and controversial relationships throughout her career.
Her career in full swing by the time she was a teen, Elizabeth Taylor’s love life has been central to the myth surrounding her name. MGM Studios set her up to date football player Glenn Davis in 1948 before she became engaged to William Pawley Jr., the son of a U.S. ambassador. Howard Hughes was rumored to have offered her parents a six-figure sum for Taylor’s hand in marriage.
But the first man that became her husband was Hilton Hotel heir, Conrad Hilton Jr. They married in Beverly Hills in 1950 in a grand wedding organized by MGM but it wasn’t long before Taylor realized she’d married a drunk. Her marriage lasted eight months before she was granted her first divorce.
In 1952, Taylor married a man 20 years her senior, British actor Michael Wilding, with whom she shared two sons. But their age gap, combined with Wilding’s failing career as hers took off, led to their eventual divorce in 1957.
The same year, she married producer Mike Todd, with whom she had one daughter. But in 1958, Todd tragically passed away in a plane crash and Taylor was devastated. She found comfort and consolation in Todd’s close friend, Eddie Fisher, who at the time was married to Debbie Reynolds. Of course, Taylor and Fisher began an affair, which became a huge public scandal. Though she was labeled a “homewrecker” for it, Taylor married Fisher in 1959.
In 1962, she was on location in Italy filming Cleopatra, where she met actor Richard Burton. Though both of them were married, they began an affair that was one of the first to be captured by paparazzi. Taylor divorced Fisher in 1964 and subsequently married Burton, with whom she adopted another daughter from Germany.
Taylor’s relationship with Burton was one of her most prominent, with the media dubbing them “Liz and Dick” as they lived a jet-setting, lavish lifestyle. They also would star in 11 films together all while dealing with rumors and harassment by the press about affairs and open marriage.
They first got divorced in 1974 but swiftly reconciled and re-married the following year. Their re-marriage lasted less than a year before they decided to divorce a final time in 1976.
Taylor then married Virginia politician John Warner shortly after her second divorce from Burton. The sixth marriage took a toll on Taylor since the life of a politician’s wife led her into depression, weight gain, and addiction to drugs and alcohol. She ended up divorcing Warner in 1982. Her final marriage was to construction worker Larry Fortensky in 1988, which lasted until their divorce in 1996.