Alert
Close

Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location

Highlights

Open
Military and Veterans Discount

FREE FUN!

AARP Games - Play Now!
AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

 

You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation

Contests and
Sweeps

AARP’s Superstar
2015 Contest

Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest!
See official rules.

AARP Auto Buying Program

MOST POPULAR

Viewed

Top 20 Celebrity Activists of All Time

An inside look at stars ranging from Harry Belafonte to Ronald Reagan

Elizabeth Taylor and the Reagans prepare for a speech about AIDS research

President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan with Elizabeth Taylor at a 1987 event on AIDS research in Washington, D.C. — Ronald Reagan Library/Getty Images

Elizabeth Taylor

Taylor's career arc took her from child star to global sex symbol to tabloid magnet, and she was better known to many for her multiple marriages than her compelling acting. But in the 1980s, Taylor unexpectedly emerged as a powerful voice for tolerance and compassion in the frightening first years of the AIDS epidemic.

Taylor testified in Congress for more AIDS funding and founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research with Mathilde Krim, a researcher at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the wife of Hollywood titan Arthur Krim (himself a major power in Democratic politics).

Taylor's greatest impact, however, may have come through the simple decency of being seen hugging and kissing Rock Hudson, her co-star in the classic 1956 film Giant, while he lay in the hospital after an AIDS diagnosis — at a time when many people still feared that casual contact could spread the disease. (His illness helped spur her activism.) Later, she quietly paid bills for friends and even strangers suffering from the disease, and visited them in hospitals. Few celebrities ever risked their fame on a cause shrouded in such a social stigma.

Next: John Wayne >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Members save on first-year membership fees to  AARP® Roadside Assistance from Allstate.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can earn 3% cash back on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.