Only in the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now, Elizabeth Taylor’s closest confidants and dearest friends open up about a side of her that she hid from the world, sharing stories of the caring, brave and "down-to-earth" superstar.
“People know some of the scandals that surrounded Elizabeth, but to me, that’s not the real Elizabeth,” says celebrity stylist José Eber, one of the star’s closest friends, who agreed to share his private memories of Liz exclusively with Closer.
Not long after they met in the 1980s, Elizabeth learned that Eber’s mother was gravely ill. “I was invited to go out with her to a concert, but I had to turn it down because my mother was in the hospital,” recalls Eber. Later that night, the hairstylist was shocked when Elizabeth showed up at the hospital to check on him. “Instead of going home, she came to see me and make sure that I was OK,” he tells the magazine. “She was so gracious. She understood what it means to lose someone you love because she’s been there.”
Elizabeth Taylor circa 1945. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
At the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, when there was no known treatment and lots of misinformation about the disease, Elizabeth secretly visited the sick and dying in hospices while touring the country. “Nobody knew about it,” remembers Eber. “In every city, she would ask, ‘When are we going to see the patients?’ It wasn’t done for press. She would go in and talk to patients, kiss and hold them. This was at a time when people would say that you couldn’t touch AIDS patients, but Elizabeth would do it without a second thought.”
“At her heart, she was very down-to-earth,” says General Hospital actor Tristan Rogers, who struck up a close friendship with Elizabeth when she appeared on the show in 1981 as the evil Helena Cassadine. “She walked into makeup wearing sweats and proceeded to introduce herself to each person. And she remembered everyone’s name — and I mean everyone!” he says.
Elizabeth circa 1950. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
She also liked to add to other people’s happiness. When 19-year-old Lucie Arnaz interrupted her mother Lucille Ball’s rehearsal to tell her she’d just gotten engaged, Elizabeth, who was doing a guest appearance on Here’s Lucy, was gracious. “I had this cute little diamond ring. I was so proud — but then Elizabeth says, ‘Oh, let me see,’” Lucie tells Closer. “Then it hit me: Elizabeth Taylor wants to see my itty-bitty ring!” But Elizabeth gushed over Lucie’s jewel and advised her to clean it with toothpaste. “She told me, ‘Toothpaste makes it sparkle.’”
“She lived every minute to the fullest,” says Eber, who is an ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. “I feel that she is here watching over us. I don’t think that she wanted to be remembered as an amazing movie star. She wanted to be remembered as a human being who made a difference in the world.” Especially now with World AIDS Day approaching on Dec. 1, Closer remembers her real legacy and all the important contributions she has made to the fight against AIDS.
Elizabeth Taylor in 1950. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
"The Elizabeth Taylor Trust keeps Ms. Taylor’s memory alive through The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. It was her wish that ETAF continue its work in perpetuity, with all operating costs paid by her Trust through cause marketing partnerships that keep Ms. Taylor’s name and likeness current today," the Elizabeth Taylor Trust said in a statement to Closer.
"The Trust works with ETAF’s managing and grant directors to carry on the fight against HIV/AIDS, funding care for those most marginalized until, per Ms. Taylor’s greatest wish, there is an end to this epidemic once and for all. The Elizabeth Taylor Trust also continues to curate Elizabeth Taylor's social media platforms as a way to honor her life," the statement continued.
"The public’s fascination with Elizabeth Taylor’s beauty, radiance, courage, passion and advocacy continues strongly even in her absence. The Trust keeps her social media accounts active, providing a place for her fans and loved ones to visit and remember her," the statement read.
For more on Elizabeth, including her many heartbreaks, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!