Classic Movie Hub (CMH)

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GRANTED a divorce from hotel heir Conrad Hilton after only eight months' marriage, Liz Taylor didn't hang about.

Liz and Richard Burton in Cleopatra 

Months later, she married British actor Michael Wilding in early 1952, a man 20 years older than her, saying she found the large age gap a positive thing.

His maturity, she felt, would give her "the calm and quiet and security of friendship" she sought. For his part, he hoped the whole thing would help raise his profile in Hollywood.

They would have two sons, Michael Howard and Christopher Edward. Ironically, though, it was as Liz herself became more mature that they drifted apart.

His career had simply refused to keep growing, and this caused strife at home.

While Liz was making Giant with James Dean, some gossip mags alleged that her husband had strippers at their home, and they announced their separation in the summer of '56.

That may have made 1956 a sour year for Taylor, although the success of Giant was a big breakthrough for her, and there were more classics ahead of her that decade.

Adaptations of Tennessee Williams' plays, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in 1958, and Suddenly, Last Summer the next year would demonstrate just what a fine actress she was.

Indeed, the latter earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress, and she was a sensation in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

If the movie feels very fraught, with the main couple - Taylor and Paul Newman - constantly bickering, it could sum up Liz's real life at that time, too.

After Michael Wilding, she had married husband no. 3, producer Mike Todd in Acapulco, but it would end in tragedy.

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