< Return to Adherents.com's Guide to Movies
< Return to Religion of the AFI's Top 50 Screen Legends
< Return to Famous Christian Scientists
< Return to Famous Jews
The Religious Affiliation of Actress
Taylor was born into a Christian Science family in England. She was not active in the faith after she came to Hollywood. Before converting to Judaism she was sometimes identified simply as a "Protestant." After converting to Judaism she was not at all a regular synagogue-goer, although in later years she apparently became more interested in spirituality and spoke more frequently about the importance of God and prayer in her life.
From: Tim Boxer, "Joey Adams as Reverso Marrano: Jewish Celebrity & Secret Christian" in 15 Minutes Magazine (http://www.15minutesmagazine.com/archives/Issue_07/now_it_can_be_told.htm; viewed 24 May 2005):
In 1992, before he took over the Page Six gossip spread in the New York Post, Richard Johnson wrote in the New York Daily News about celebrities with unexpected religious beliefs:
From: Susan Sackett, The Hollywood Reporter Book of Box Office Hits, Billboard Publications: New York City (1990), page 102:
- Elizabeth Taylor, born a Christian Scientist but became a Jew
It is interesting to note that Elizabeth Taylor played a Jewish girl in this film [Ivanhoe (1952)], although she was not raised in this faith. Seven years after Ivanhoe's release, she converted to Judaism. According to Ms. Taylor, in her book Elizabeth Takes Off, "It had absolutely nothing to do with my past marriage to Mike [Todd] or my upcoming marriage to Eddie Fisher, both of whom were Jewish. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time."
From: Ellis Auburn, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions, and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor, HarperCollins Publishers: New York, NY (2000), pages 114-115:
...Eddie [Fisher said] "I wouldn't date a Jewish broad if my life depended on it. They think they're doing you a big favor when it comes to sex . . . The goyishe dames are different. They're already happy to do it." Ironically enough, Elizabeth [Taylor], a shiksa (non-Jewish girl), was studying to convert to Judaism, influenced by Mike Todd's rabbi, Max Nussbaum, who helped he cope with her grief...
Auburn, pages 155-156:
In early 1959, Elizabeth converted to Reform Judaism at Temple Israel in Hollywood and was given the Hebrew name of Elisheba Rachel. Her Christian parents looked on with the same horror they'd have displayed at a witches' sabbath. Elizabeth insisted "it had absolutely nothing to do with my upcoming marriage to Eddie Fisher." No doubt she was telling the truth; Eddie told Rona Barrett, "Jewish girls [are] no good for [screwing]." Perhaps fortunately for the sake of her conjugal life with Eddie, Elizabeth's passion for Judaism quickly waned--she and Eddie neer went to synagogue, only once observed the high holidays, and she never gave up wearing her cross.
Rabbi Nussbaum officiated at her marriage to Eddie on May 12, 1959, at Temple Beth Shalom in Las Vegas... Mike Todd Jr. was best man... A traditional Jewish wedding, it included the chuppath (a canopy), the groom stomping on a wineglass, and the signing of the marriage contract...
They [Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton] were finally married in Montreal on March 15, 1964. It was her fifth trip to the altar in a little over a dozen years. Oscar Levant, a faithful friend throughout her marriages to Hilton [a Catholic], Wilding, Todd [Jewish], and Fisher [Jewish], quipped, "Always a bride, never a bridesmaid"... The thirty-two-year-old Jewish bride [Taylor] and the thirty-eight-year-old Presbyterian groom exchanged their vows in front of a Unitarian Church of the Messiah pastor, Reverend Leonard Mason, the only member of the clergy willing to associate himself with a couple who, between them, had wrecked three families.
Auburn, page 235:
Elizabeth [Taylor] was installed in the royal suite as a permanent guest of the Iranian government... Barbara Howar christened Elizabeth and Zahedi Washington's "hottest couple," and for a while she and His Excellency seemed altar-bound. Then the Shah got wind of his ambassador's affair with the Jewish Elizabeth and ended him to end it.
Auburn, page 251:
...she [Elizabeth Taylor] did appear to be making her most triumphant comeback. She was sober, she was lighter, she was beautiful, and she'd had a spiritual awakening. "I believe in a higher power," Elizabeth said. "I believe in one God. I'm so glad I asked for help." Her willingness to seek help from a power greater than herself would impact the rest of her life, changing her into the kind of person who'd help save others from drugs and alcohol and raise millions of dollars for people suffering from AIDS. AA's big message is that one should give rather than take, understand rather than be understood, and love rather than be loved. Liberating one from unrealistic expectations, the program also liberates one from disappointment. "Finally, give of yourself," Elizabeth wrote. "There are many organizations that need help . . . Nothing will raise your self-esteem as much as helping others. It will make you like yourself more and make you more likeable . . . BFC [Betty Ford Clinic] changed my life."
Auburn, page 282:
 By now her good works were so well-known that she seemed immune to scandal. "God must have some reason for keeping me alive," she observed. "Something He wants me to do. And I'll know. I'll know. I just have to be still. God knows where we all are." As she regained her strength she realized, "I've got to do something to help people who are really sick...
Auburn, page 283:
When Larry [Fortensky] said he was ready to marry her, Elizabeth put her better judgment on hold... The wedding took place in early October 1991 at Michael Jackson's Neverland... As Elizabeth and Larry stood beneath a gazebo, exchanging vows in front of New Age personality Marianne Williamson...
Auburn, pages 295-296:
 After a decade of devoting herself to the sick and dying, she felt in touch with a higher power. Prayer had become a way of life, a state of consciousness. "I pray to God all the time," she said. "We have a conversational relationship and those conversations calm my fears."
Auburn, page 300:
 Rod Steiger [who she was dating at the time] was photographed on dates with General Hospital soap star Joan Benedict, and Elizabeth found herself "in this dark place," she recalled, "like a pit." At one point she was desperate enough to try anything, engaging a Kabbalah rabbi, Eitan Yardeni, who conducted classes at her home several times a week. Though there was no charge, a typical celebrity donation--Dolly Parton, Madonna, and Roseanne Barr were also studying the mystical text--ws $200 to $300 per session. Healing prayers attempt to banish negativity and replace it with seven knots that they keep on at all times, even when bathing. Kabbalah's teachings come from twenty-four books called the Zohar, which include several chapters on health. The Kabbalah movement brought Elizabeth and Madonna closer together. Elizabeth gave the singer advice on raising her daughter Lourdes, whom Madonna was allegedly rearing according to the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Auburn, pages 6-7:
 A source close to [Mickey] Rooney said that [Elizabeth] Taylor and Rooney were involved during [the filming of] Velvet, but Elizabeth herself has said that she was a virgin until her [first] marriage six years later.
Auburn, page 30:
[Elizabeth Taylor] recalled, "...I was a virgin when I was married..."
Auburn, page 12:
Despite her own salty language, if anyone cursed on one of [Elizabeth Taylor's] sets, he was immediately fired.
Auburn, page 27:
Elizabeth was equally sure that one day she'd win Monty [Montgomery Clift] himself, despite her intuitive awareness of his homosexuality and other difficulties he was struggling with, including his repressive Presbyterian background and Sunny, his anxious, over-controlling mother.
Auburn, pages 33-34:
Nicky [Hilton] told his father that he'd met the most beautiful girl in the world [Elizabeth Taylor] and was going to marry her, convert her to Catholicism, and sire a dozen kids with her...
Nicky Hilton (an heir to the Hilton Hotel fortune] proposed to Elizabeth Taylor when she was not quite eighteen years old, and he asked her to choose a date for the wedding. Auburn, page 36:
[page 34] Nicky was drawn to Elizabeth for the same reason his father had sought out Zsa Zsa. He wanted an ego crutch in the form of a beautiful woman on his arm to confirm his masculinity. Conrad, as Zsa Zsa discovered, had sexual problems stemming from Catholic guilt. Nicky's problems stemmed from a shattered ego...
...Elizabeth said, "In May... Say the fifth. Is that okay?" Nicky agreed, exclaiming, "I get the most wonderful girl in the world. You know, when you marry a Catholic, it's forever, Elizabeth." She said she was ready to begin her instruction in the church immediately. As he gave her a lingering kiss, everyone in the nightclub burst into applause. The next day, Sra started drilling her in the catechism.
Auburn, page 37:
During an inteview with Jean Porter... I asked, "Why on earth did she marry Nicky?" Jean said, "She wanted to get off on her own. She liked her parents but wanted some independence." Elizabeth herself later admitted that she'd at last surrendered to lust, "driven by feelings that could not be indulged outside marriage."
Auburn, pages 38-39:
Francis Taylor [Elizabeth's father] didn't approve of Elizabeth's proposed conversion to the Catholic faith. In April Elizabeth, too, had second thoughts, after learning that she'd have to sign an oath promising to bring her children up in the church. At Mtro, which was performing corporate sommersaults to support her wedding because of all the free publicity for Bride, Pandro Berman prediced a flare-up of what he called Elizabeth's "crazy defiance." The couple reached a compromise, and on April 15 an announcement appeared in newspapers stating that though the wedding would be Roman Catholic, Elizabeth would remain Protestant...
Elizabeth Taylor's first marriage, to Nicky Hilton, lasted 9 months. She next married Michael Wilding. Auburn, page 53:
The Taylor-Hilton wedding was the great celebrity event of 1950, held at 5 P.M. on Sunday, May 6, at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills--"Our Lady of the Cadillacs," as it was known, because of the richness of the parishioners...
After a Catholic Mass, Nicky slipped a $10,000 platinum-and-diamond wedding band on Elizabeth's finger, and they kissed so long that Monsignor Patrick J. Concannon told Elizabeth, "I think that's long enough, dear."
...1952... in London... Three thousand onlookers swarmed around London's Caxton Registry Hall, Westminster, for the ten-minute ceremony on February 27...
Elizabeth had her first child with second husband Michael Wilding. Auburn, pages 55-56:
Named after her husband and her brother, Michael Howard Wilding Jr. was born... on January 6, 1953... On October 1953 Michael Jr. was christened in Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair...
Auburn, page 265:
In his final days, Rock [Hudson] occasionally wandered around The Castle, but most of the time he slept, sometimes twelve hours at a stretch. Born-again Christian singer Pat Boone led prayers in his bedroom, and actress Susan Stafford brought a Catholic priest, Father Terry Sweeney, to Rock's bedside, where he received Communion and the Anointing of the Sick. He was heartened that [Elizabeth Taylor's] CTL [AIDS benefit] dinner grew so big that a producer was assigned to help Elizabeth with the planning.
About the time that Stanley Donen dated actress Elizabeth Taylor, from: Stephen M. Silverman, Dancing on the Ceiling: Stanley Donen and His Movies, Alfred A. Knopf: New York (1996), page 138:
"Elizabeth's mother, Sara, did everything in her power to call it off," Donen said of the romance, which he approximated lated one year. "Her mother hated me in the worst way and did all sorts of nasty things to break us up, including calling Lous B. Mayer, Eddie Mannix, and several other people at the studio." Donen described Sara Taylor as "this very dominating woman, a terrible person. Elizabeth inherited her face and her looks from her father, Francis, but he was a very beaten husband. Sara, I think, at that time certainly was anti-Semitic, despite the fact that Elizabeth subsequently became a Jew."
...In 1957, in anticipation of her third marriage, to the producer Mike Todd (born Avrom Hirsch Goldenbogen), Taylor converted to Judaism.
Webpage created 24 June 2005. Last modified 19 August 2005.
We are always striving to increase the accuracy and usefulness of our website. We are happy to hear from you. Please submit questions, suggestions, comments, corrections, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org.