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Elizabeth Taylor’s dark outlined eyes were due to a rare mutation giving her “double eyelashes”

Elizabeth Taylor was one of the last classical Hollywood stars to pass away in recent years and one of the first modern celebrities who left a long-lasting impression on the movie screens with her flawless acting.

London was her birthplace and also training ground when she began her acting career in the early 1940s. After being signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Taylor played her breakthrough role in “National Velvet”, becoming the most popular teenage star shortly after the releasing of the movie, during the Christmas of 1944.

Promotional photograph of actor Elizabeth Taylor, 1950.
Promotional photograph of actor Elizabeth Taylor, 1950.

As she gained more fame, Taylor was assigned to more roles in different movies and she actually despised many of them, which led her to want to put an end to her career in the 1950s.

After she made many complaints about her roles, she received better ones during the mid-1950s and would then go on to star in various critically and commercially successful films in the years to follow. Despite the fact that Taylor never received professional training, she was seen as a natural talent, often empathizing with the characters she played.

Publicity photograph, circa 1947
Publicity photograph, circa 1947

Taylor’s emphatic acting and unique appearance, however, were the key factors that made her famous in the first place. Some say that she became famous for being famous and was different from ‘ordinary’ people because of her unusually dark outlined eyes.

Apparently, her darkly outlined eyes were caused by a rare genetic mutation, giving her the glamorous effect of “double eyelashes”.

A mutation like this is known as ‘distichia’ which causes the eyelashes to arise from an abnormal spot on the eyelid. This wasn’t the only health issue Taylor faced over the years, unfortunately.

Cropped screenshot of Elizabeth Taylor from the trailer for the film ‘Giant’.
Cropped screenshot of Elizabeth Taylor from the trailer for the film ‘Giant’.

Born with scoliosis, the actress broke her neck during the shooting of “National Velvet”, whilst simultaneously suffering from pneumonia that required a tracheotomy. She also had to have several operations related to her chronic back issues and was therefore addicted to alcohol and medications. Although she was a heavy smoker, after pneumonia, her smoking days were over.

Unlike many Hollywood stars who intended to keep their illnesses and/or addictions hidden from the public realm, Taylor was the first to openly admit her problems and ask for clinical therapy. She started a seven-week therapy program at the Betty For Center in 1984 and entered rehabilitation some four years later.

Besides fighting many serious health issues, she also fought against her weight, publishing a diet book about her experiences, entitled Elizabeth Takes Off. Known as a pre-feminist woman and a gay icon, the actress was one of the most respected artists in cinematic history. She was also the first major star to participate in HIV/AIDS activism and publicly fight fear and prejudice towards AIDS.

Taylor helped to raise over $270 million for the cause, and formed the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991, to provide support for the ill and raise awareness amongst people.

Facing many illnesses herself, she provided help for those who needed it, showing them they weren’t alone in their battles against one of the worst illnesses worldwide.

Although her own health issues greatly decreased in the last two decades of her life, Taylor rarely attended public events during the 2000s.

Diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2004, she passed away seven years later, at the age of 79.

Regarding her habit of never showing up on time, the actress voiced her last wish before she passed away, related to the postmortem ceremony. At her request, the funeral, which was more like a private ceremony, began 15 minutes after schedule; she even wanted to be late for her own funeral.

Read another story from us: Photos of Bette Davis- one of the greatest female figures of Classical Hollywood cinema

Elizabeth Taylor was a prosperous actress who, aside from being successful at a professional level, also devoted her life to helping others, and exceptional people like her are always worth recognition.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News