Elizabeth Taylor

Oscar-wining actress and Dame of the British Empire Elizabeth Taylor passed away this morning in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure. She was 79.

No, it is not typical to cover breaking news on celebrity deaths here at FDL, but this deserves notice. Yes, Taylor was a giant of the silver screen, but it should also be noted that she lent her fame to AIDS activism before most politicians even knew what AIDS was.

Beyond acting, Taylor is credited with bringing the world’s attention to AIDS with her fund-raising and activism. In 1985, when Taylor’s lifelong friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS, she brought national attention to the growing disease. It satisfying to her to use her celebrity for good – she raised and donated millions to the cause, founding the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

“I don’t think President Bush is doing anything at all about AIDS. In fact, I’m not sure he even knows how to spell AIDS,” Taylor said once, frustrated with President Bush’s slow-moving efforts to address the crisis.

Taylor is survived by four children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Update: From Taylor’s own twitter account, this fitting tribute: