Dame Elizabeth Taylor is known for many things – violet eyes, unsurpassed acting talent, and eight high profile marriages. But were you aware of her deep love for animals — especially dogs? As her famous quote says, “Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.” (We love how she throws a bit of shade at her male co-stars!)
Taylor lived practically her entire life in the spotlight, catapulting to fame as a child actress in the 1944 film National Velvet, where she worked closely with horses. As a child, Taylor interacted with many animals: chipmunks, horses, chickens, cats, and — of course — dogs.
Dogs were a constant throughout her glamorous yet tumultuous life. Although her marriages oftentimes chaotic, and with the paparazzi always hounding her, Taylor found solace by spending quality time with the furry friends that meant so much to her.
Her love for dogs included Cocker Spaniels, Pekingese, and Maltese, but she is best known for her love of the latter. Originally hailing from Malta, these toy dogs are famous for their silky white manes. Aptly known as a “Roman Ladies Dog,” Maltese pups are very loyal companions and do not like being left alone.
Taylor was so dedicated to her pups that she would not be separated from them regardless of the circumstances or costs. When Taylor and husband, Richard Burton, had to go to England for their respective film shoots she was aghast when she learned of the harsh procedure that occurred to dogs upon arrival. The British practice in the late 1960s was to quarantine dogs coming into the country for six months for fear of rabies.
Because Taylor was very clever and determined, she figured out a way to beat the system. She decided to moor a yacht, the now famous Kalizma, on the River Thames so that she could keep her dogs with her during their stay in England. By keeping her dogs on the yacht, Taylor ensured they never touched English soil, therefore she never violated the stringent quarantine regulation. Her living situation at that time was referred to as a “floating dog kennel” by the media. She allegedly spent $20,000 (today’s equivalent would be $138,000) to keep her dogs with her for a few weeks. What could anyone say? Liz refused to be separated from her dogs! — And who can blame her?!
From the beginning of her career to the twilight years of her life, Liz dedicated herself to many important things beyond her acting craft. She was a huge philanthropist to HIV/AIDS research and, as we know, she always dedicated herself fully to her love of animals. As you may recall, even Charlotte (Kristin Davis) on “Sex and The City” named her King Charles Spaniel after the acclaimed actress!
Everything about Elizabeth Taylor was larger than life – her romances, her movie roles, her diamonds, even her scandals. Although she passed away in 2011, her legacy as the ultimate dog lover continues to inspire us to go above and beyond for our dear fur friends.