Elizabeth Taylor – A Life of Pain and Multiple Surgeries

Elizabeth Taylor

This is the 3rd post in our series about famous people with back pain. The first featured John F. Kennedy:http://www.vacupractor.com/famous-people/john-f-kennedy-back-pain/ and the 2nd featured Hulk Hogan and his story of failed back surgery.

One of the world’s most famous film stars and most glamorous Hollywood icons, Elizabeth Taylor spent a life in and out of hospitals, partly due to chronic back pain. By the end of her life, Taylor was in constant pain and confined to a wheelchair, which reportedly sapped her spirit and her will to live. Taylor died in March of congestive heart failure at the age of 79.

Born in London in 1932, Taylor started acting at the age of 9. She went on to star in more than 50 films and win two Academy Awards. Her first major success, National Velvet, also marked the start of her lifelong struggle with severe back pain: during filming, Taylor was thrown from a horse and broke her back. During her lifetime, Taylor would undergo five major back surgeries, as well as countless other operations and treatments. In addition to her continued back pain, Taylor suffered from two life-threatening cases of pneumonia, seizures, a stroke, skin cancer, and a benign brain tumor.  In her later years, she was once quoted as saying, “I enter hospitals as often as others enter taxicabs.” Her health problems became as much as part of her Hollywood legacy as her Oscar-winning performance and eight marriages (two to actor Richard Burton).

Taylor injured her back again in 1957, when her boat (Kalizma) lurched and she fell, landing on her tailbone. Doctors removed three discs from her back and replaced them with bone from her hip, pelvis, and a bone bank. The same year, it took nine doctors to deliver her premature third child, daughter Liza. She also underwent an appendectomy after suffering several appendicitis attacks on a trip abroad with her third husband, film producer Michael Todd.


Kalizma - Liz & Taylor Richard Burtons Yacht


In 1958, a cold kept Taylor from joining Todd on a flight to New York on his private plane Lucky Liz. The plane, grossly overloaded and flying in icing conditions, suffered an engine failure and crashed in New Mexico, killing everyone on board. It was the only one of Taylor’s eight marriages to that did not end in divorce. Taylor turned to pills and alcohol to ease her grief. She later married Todd’s best friend, Eddie Fisher, whom she divorced in 1964.

Lucky Liz

Lucky Liz


In 1960, an abscessed tooth contributed to the development of meningism, an irritation of the membranes covering the brain that sent Taylor to the hospital weeping and clutching her head in pain. While suffering from pneumonia in 1961, she was twice pronounced at the point of death. She underwent a tracheotomy, in which an incision was cut into her windpipe to aid breathing. In one of the most dramatic moments in Academy Award history, Taylor hobbled to the stage to accept an Oscar for “Butterfield 8” with a bandage over her scar.

Richard Burton

Richard Burton

Taylor married costar Richard Burton in 1964, following a highly publicized affair. The couple remained married for ten years, before divorcing in 1974 and remarrying in 1975. Their second marriage lasted only nine months.

More severe back pain led to another hospitalization in 1969. Rumors circulated that Taylor was suffering from cancer of the spine, but tests and x-rays revealed no malignancies. She underwent surgery for internal bleeding following a gynecological procedure in 1970, and again in 1973 to remove an ovarian cyst.

After marrying politician John Warner in 1976, Taylor began focusing on her husband’s career and attempted to remove herself from the Hollywood limelight. She gained considerable weight, and was parodied on Saturday Night Live by John Belushi after she choked on a chicken bone while on the campaign trail with her husband. After Warner was elected to the U.S. Senate, Taylor was unhappy with her D.C. life, and checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic for drug and alcohol abuse. She stated that many of her problems stemmed from taking so many prescription medications throughout her life. The death of Burton in 1984, along with continued back pain and general ill health, led to a return to drinking and drugs.

In 1985, she wore a 50-pound period skirt to film the television miniseries “North and South,” which caused her back problems to flare again. A second bout with pneumonia in 1990 caused another death scare. She had both hip joints replaced in 1994 and 1995, followed by another surgery to correct a difference in the length of her legs, which occurred as a result of the hip replacements. In 1997, she underwent an operation to remove a two-inch tumor from her brain.

Towards the end of her life, Taylor suffered from excruciating neck pain, congestive heart failure, and osteoporosis. She was virtually confined to a wheelchair and told her family that she was “too tired and weak” to undergo any further surgeries. Those close to her said being practically bedridden sapped her spirit, and were relieved when she escaped the pain and confinement upon her death in March.



Yahoo News: Liz Taylor spent a life in and out of hospitals

Notable Biographies: Elizabeth Taylor Biography

Karen Eisenbraun is a writer, editor, and Internet marketing professional specializing in the areas of health and wellness. Her writing has appeared on a number of top health websites, including Livestong.com and Natural News. Visit her web site at www.kareneisenbraun.com.

is the founder and CEO of Vacupractor.

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