Elizabeth Taylor Dies at 79

[caption id="attachment_41110" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="Getty Images"]Elizabeth Taylor[/caption]

Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most iconic figures in Hollywood history, died today. She was 79.

A statement from her publicist said Taylor died peacefully at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, reports CNN.

The Academy Award-winning actress was  hospitalized six weeks ago for symptoms caused by congestive heart failure, which she was first diagnosed with in 2004. Taylor, who underwent heart surgery in 2009 to repair a defective valve, has had a series of medical issues, including skin cancer, pneumonia and osteoporosis, which in recent years had confined her to a wheelchair.

"Though she had recently suffered a number of complications, her condition had stabilized and it was hoped that she would be able to return home," the statement read. "Sadly, this was not to be."

In her heydey, Taylor was one of the world's most recognizable figures, winning the Oscar for Best Actress in 1961 for "BUtterfield 8" and again in 1967 for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Her win for "BUtterfield 8" capped an incredible run of four consecutive Best Actress nominations, following nods for "Raintree County" in 1958, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" in 1959 and "Suddenly, Last Summer" in 1960.

As amazing as her onscreen legacy is, however, for many she will be remembered more for her infamous off-screen legacy. As one of the first superstars of the tabloid pop media, Taylor's private life became anything but private. Already married three times, her 1959 marriage to entertainer Eddie Fisher -- who divorced popular actress Debbie Reynolds in order to marry Taylor, his best friend's widow -- caused a national scandal that effectively ended Fisher's career.

The two would divorce less than five years later when Taylor began a tumultuous relationship with seven-time Oscar nominee Richard Burton. Taylor and Burton would become one of the most famous and recognizable couples in Hollywood history thanks to their great chemistry on-screen in movies like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "The Taming of the Shrew" and their knock-down battles off-screen. Divorcing in 1974 after 10 years of marriage, the two would re-marry in 1975 only to divorce a second time in 1976.

In total, Taylor was married eight times.

In recent years, Taylor had become somewhat of a recluse. Following her split from Burton in 1976, Taylor's film career essentially ended and while she took occasional television roles throughout the '80s, she appeared in only a handful of cameos and specials before making her final on-screen appearance in the 2001 TV Movie "These Old Broads."

Despite producing almost no work over the past three decades, however, Taylor has remained an iconic figure; her unusual friendship with Michael Jackson, for instance, has become part of pop culture legend. She has also been recognized for her work as one of the leading activists in the fight against AIDS.

Elizabeth Taylor leaves four children and nine grandchildren. She turned 79 on February 27 -- fittingly enough, the night of this year's Oscar ceremony.