Elizabeth Taylor, as well as being an acclaimed actress of the 1950s and ’60s, was also a prolific bride! As she was a style icon, her private life received almost as much scrutiny as her characters on screen. And, she clearly loved marriages, or at least weddings, as she tied the knot eight times.
From her first on-screen nuptials to her final real-life marriage, we’re going to look at the wedding dresses that Elizabeth Taylor wore during her life.
1) Conrad Hilton, 1950-1951
Liz first tied the knot in May 1950 to Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, son of the famous hotelier. At the start of the long road of marriages, and aged just 18, Elizabeth had no idea that this first one would end so soon and so badly. Reportedly, they divorced eight months later due to Conrad’s heavy drinking and gambling habits.
She wore a dress designed by Helen Rose, who also designed Grace Kelly’s beautiful wedding dress. It was made of white satin and accented with seed pearls and intricate beading. This dress featured a sweetheart neckline that sat just off her shoulders, and a full skirt with a chiffon overlay. The bodice had a sheer, embroidered panel to a high, neck-hugged v-neck, and long sleeves. She paired the dress with a three-quarter length veil and a small pearl tiara. The dress certainly accented the young starlet’s great figure.
1.5) Father of the Bride, 1950
While Elizabeth was busy planning her real-life wedding, she was also in the midst of shooting a film. The on-screen bride appeared in the film Father of the Bride with Don Taylor as the groom. In addition to her first dress, MGM’s costume designer, Helen Rose, made Taylor’s dress for this, too. In fact, the company used Elizabeth’s wedding as publicity for the film and instructed that the dresses be similar.
For the role, she wore a long white wedding dress heavily detailed with lace. The bodice featured, again, a sheer panel, this time with a Peter Pan collar. The dress came in to a narrow waist and then the top layer split to reveal a lacey skirt below. She wore a long, lace-edged veil which gave the impression of a halo.
2) Michael Wilding, 1952-1957
Elizabeth met Michael in London in 1948 when filming Conspirator. She liked that he was double her age and hoped that she could help progress his acting career. They began a relationship when she returned to England in 1951. They married in a low-key ceremony in February 1952. While they were married, she gave birth to her first two children: Michael and Christopher.
She wanted a more sophisticated outfit than her first marriage, so chose a skirt suit. This, like her first two dresses, was also designed by Helen Rose of MGM. The jacket was fitted with a large, rounded white collar and elbow-length sleeves which finished in long, turned back cuffs. The skirt was tea length and flared out to form a very 1950s’ style silhouette.
However, Taylor soon started to realise that she was getting older and more independent. She was also frustrated that he was not being as successful as she had hoped. They divorced in 1957.
3) Mike Todd, 1957-1958
Elizabeth’s third husband was the American film producer Mike Todd. This was the third marriage for both of them. They tied the knot in Mexico, officiated by the mayor of Acapulco. Close friend Debbie Reynolds was invited and Eddie Fisher was Todd’s best man.
At the wedding, Elizabeth chose a different look. She wore a light, hooded organza dress. It was tight fitting and had a deep v-neck and short sleeves. She carried a waterfall bouquet and looked very happy.
The pair had a baby girl, Liza, who was born in August 1957. Sadly, this marriage was not to end in divorce as Mike died in a plane crash in March 1958. Elizabeth had intended to fly on this plane as well, but stayed home because of a cold. Distraught, she sought comfort in Eddie Fisher.
4) Eddie Fisher, 1959-1964
As Eddie was around to comfort Elizabeth after the death of Mike, the two started to have a relationship. This caused quite a scandal the affair was made public and he was still married to Debbie Reynolds. Liz was labelled a homewrecker but that didn’t stop Eddie from divorcing Debbie in 1959 and marrying Liz in May of the same year.
The ceremony took place in a synagogue in Las Vegas. Elizabeth converted to Judaism shortly before their marriage, but claims that this was not necessarily because of him. Fisher had proposed to Taylor with a 40-carat bracelet instead of a ring, and her dress was unconventional, too.
Walking down the aisle at the Temple Beth Sholom, Elizabeth stunned in an emerald green silk dress. The dress featured a captivating loose hood, sheer sleeves and a tucked-in waist. The green tone complemented her complexion perfectly. This was the first time she chose a pop of colour for her wedding gown, but certainly not the last.
5) Richard Burton, 1964-1974
While filming the 1963 Hollywood hit Cleopatra, Elizabeth acted with Richard and the two started an affair. He was married to Welsh actress Sybil Williams at the time, and Liz to Eddie. The two were spotted together on a yacht in Italy, and this marked a turning point in celebrity lives. From this point, a celebrity’s private life was public.
They both divorced their respective spouses in 1964 and married soon afterwards in a somewhat private ceremony in Montreal. Through their relationship they starred in eleven films together and led the sort of lifestyle you would expect from a power couple: diamonds, designer clothes, paintings, furs, a yacht and a jet.
Elizabeth called upon Irene Sharaff, the costume designer for Cleopatra to make her wedding dress. It was a bright canary yellow with an empire cut and made of chiffon fabric. Unlike all of her other long dresses, this one only went down to her knees. Finally, she wore a dazzling emerald Bulgari brooch, which Burton had proposed with, and braided hyacinths into her hair.
6) Richard Burton, 1975-1976
Do not adjust your screens. Having divorced a year previously due to arguments and affairs, they met to discuss finances and quickly reconciled. As a result, they married in secret in Botswana in October 1975.
This dress was very unlike any other, a tie-dye number by designer Gina Fratini. The colours of the gown went from green to blue to pink to yellow. It also featured strings of tiny feathers and beads. It had long, flowing sleeves and an empire cut topped with a patchwork of colour at the bodice. Meanwhile Richard beside her wore cream coloured trousers and a red jumper.
But, it wasn’t to be. They divorced for a second time in 1979. Afterwards, Elizabeth said that all men since him were just company and there to hold the door open and take her coat.
7) John Warner, 1976-1982
She met the Republican politician John Warner shortly after divorcing Burton for the second time. At the time, he had plans to become the senator for Virginia, which he later held for five terms. They married on his farm in Virginia in December 1976 without any witnesses. Following this very quiet wedding, she threw herself into his electoral campaign.
At the cold outdoor wedding, Elizabeth wore a violet cashmere dress covered in a thick tweed and fur coat. Lines of red, green and pink ran through the coat, which also matched the turban she wore on her head.
She did not enjoy being a politician’s wife and soon enough became addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol. During this time she mostly left the film industry behind and from then on only picked up roles on television.
8) Larry Fortensky, 1991
She was engaged twice more after Warner before meeting Larry Fortensky in 1988. He worked in construction and, after being caught drink driving, met Elizabeth at a rehab centre in California. He was penniless, unexperienced, and moreover had no idea who Elizabeth was! This, following the death of Richard Burton four years previously, was all she needed to move on.
She proposed to him and they married in October 1991 at Neverland, Michael Jackson’s home and amusement park. She wore a big, floor length, off the shoulder creamy-coloured dress, which was a gift from the designer Valentino. It was much more traditional in style than her previous six dresses. That is to say, the dress was tiered, with plenty of lace detailing, and had a short train. She carried a big, rounded bouquet with yellow flowers, green foliage, and a trailing ribbon.
They allegedly spent nearly $2million on the wedding and, in contrast to most of the other weddings, invited countless celebrity guests. Michael Jackson walked her down the aisle and they toasted with mineral water. They sold their photographs to raise money for AIDS charities. However, even though she stated “This is it, forever”, they soon started to fight. Larry complained that she was trying to control him and “turn him into a diamond”. She booked him manicure appointments and corrected his grammar. They divorced in 1996.
Elizabeth Taylor’s string of failed marriages remains infamous. Finally, she died, single, in 2011.