From the 1940s through the 1960s, there were few bigger stars than Elizabeth Taylor. And although her appearances began dwindling in the 1970s, she never stopped acting, appearing in plays and television productions as recently as 2001. Here's a short list of highlights from a career that amassed more than 50 films.


 

National Velvet (1944). Taylor became a marquee name playing Velvet Brown, a 12-year-old jockey who rides her horse to a win at the Grand National. But the film also started her on the path to a lifelong addiction to painkillers after she fell from a horse.


 

A Place in the Sun (1951). In George Stevens' adaptation of "An American Tragedy," Taylor played a debutante who catches the eye of social climber Montgomery Clift. The two became lifelong friends.


 

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Giant (1956). A potboiler set against the backdrop of Texas' cattle and oil industries, with Taylor cast opposite Rock Hudson and James Dean.


 

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). Richard Brooks' adaptation of Tennessee Williams' high-revving play provided Taylor with one of her more memorable and vivid roles, the sex-starved Maggie Pollitt.


 

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). Another Williams adaptation, starring Taylor as an unstable woman in a mental institution. The stellar cast included Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift and Mercedes McCambridge.


 

BUtterfield 8 (1960). Taylor earned her first best actress Oscar as Gloria Wandrous, a fittingly named woman who strays into a married man's bed. The film rather uncomfortably mirrored Taylor's real-life scandalous relationship with singer Eddie Fisher (who appeared in the film) during his marriage to Debbie Reynolds.


 

Cleopatra (1963). Taylor played the queen of Egypt and met future two-time husband Richard Burton in this universally panned film. It won four Oscars and became the year's top grosser, but was so expensive that it still failed to turn a profit and nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox.


 

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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). As a sharp-tongued, miserably unhappy and often drunken wife, Taylor won her second best actress Oscar in this adaptation of Edward Albee's play. Burton played her emotionally sadistic husband.


 

Hammersmith Is Out (1972). Peter Ustinov's dark-humored update of a Faust tale starred Burton as a satanic mental patient, Beau Bridges as his idiot protegé and Taylor as a trashy waitress. Funded by a wealthy motor-home magnate and shot in Mexico, the film remains a cult favorite despite being almost impossible to find on video.


 

The Mirror Crack'd (1980). Taylor joined a handful of Old Hollywood stars, including Tony Curtis, Kim Novak and Rock Hudson, in this kindly reviewed Agatha Christie mystery. Angela Lansbury played Miss Marple.

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These Old Broads (2001). This television film was notable mostly for its back story: Taylor and her old romantic rival, Reynolds, played washed-up, bickering film stars alongside Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins. Reynolds' daughter, Carrie Fisher, co-wrote the script.