Elizabeth Taylor

Words by Theodora Sutcliffe

Originally from: London
Profession: Actor
At: Hollywood

So who was Elizabeth Taylor?
Iconic actress, AIDS campaigner, diamond fan, perfumier, Dame of the British Empire, married eight times to seven husbands - that's twice to Richard Burton. One of the world's great beauties, she had a sharp head for business, a knack for friendships, an overwhelming lust for life, a filthy sense of humour, a potty mouth - and an ability to party with the best of them.

Where did she drink?
Where didn't she? During her glory years, Elizabeth was everywhere - Moxons in Jamaica, the Dorchester, the Ritz, the Bel Air Hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Chateau Marmont, the Sands in Vegas, Harry's Bar in Venice, the Beachcomber Bar at the Caribe Hilton...

In later life, single, ageing and ill, she favoured West Hollywood's gay bars, particularly The Abbey. Assistants would wheel her in to enjoy Watermelon and Apple martinis or tequila shots. Legend has it that she once called up to see whether it was worth coming in. The answer? "Not tonight. We've got enough Elizabeth Taylors in here as it is."

What did she drink?
Despite her petite size - in her youth, she had a 19-inch waist - Elizabeth could, one journalist observed, "outdrink any man I have ever known, including Burton". Her tastes in booze were as Catholic as her tastes in food, though champagne was a consistent favourite.

Bizarrely, we probably have Dame Elizabeth to thank for the Chocolate Martini. She created the drink with Rock Hudson, when they were filming Giant in Texas during the 50s.

In Mexico, she favoured tequila shots with beer chasers. For much of her relationship with Richard Burton they thrived on, "Cognac in the morning. Vodka and tonic in the afternoon. Scotch and vodka at night."

Any famous drinking buddies?
Richard Burton observed that Taylor's capacity for alcohol was a medical miracle. She married Eddie Fisher, dated Frank Sinatra (no slouch on the party front himself) and turned down Howard Hughes' proposal, even when he showered her with diamonds. She was friends with the playwright Tennessee Williams, the politician Henry Kissinger and, of course, Michael Jackson, not to mention actors from Jane Fonda to Cary Grant.

How did drink change her life?
Elizabeth once said: "The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues." For much of her life, alcohol was just another vice that fed her lust for life and love of drama.

Yet, once her ongoing health problems produced an addiction to painkillers, they combined lethally with booze. And, living in Washington, married to a senator, she turned to liquor as an antidote to loneliness. During the 80s, she did two stints in the Betty Ford clinic, and briefly embraced AA.

Impressively, though, she managed to outlive many of her obituarists.

Any drinking stories?
Taylor's booze-fuelled fights with Richard Burton were legendary - glasses, vases and bottles smashing everywhere, even over the attendant staff. Neither side was shy about hitting the other.

Perhaps her most famous drinking moment, though, was the time she presented an award at the 2001 Golden Globes. The grande dame arrived impressively spaced and, while reading from the autocue, delivered the immortal line: "And the winner is... it's flashing 'envelope'."