When AIDS hit in the early 1980s, Elizabeth Taylor rallied swiftly and bravely as the courageous high-profile spokesperson and fundraiser in the fight against the disease.It was a terrifying time — especially in Hollywood. “People were afraid, and they blamed the homosexual community for creating it,” recalls Marion Rosenberg, Taylor’s long-time agent and manager. “Elizabeth was incredibly proud of the fact that she was literally the first person, the first celebrity to come out and put a name to AIDS and make it relevant. She always said, ‘If I hadn’t done it, I don’t who would have done it.’ She was the voice. Nobody else had the guts to do it.” And it took a lot of guts. “People not only slammed doors in my face and hung up on me, but I received death threats,” Taylor recalled. Tonight, Taylor will be posthumously honored with WIF’s Norma Zarky Award, presented by Pandora, for her humanitarian works, which include her founding role in the American Foundation for AIDS Research and her establishment of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. “She became a crusader and she never let go,” sums up Rosenberg. “There’s no question about the fact that she wanted this to be her legacy. She was absolutely fearless and she knew that she would keep doing this to her dying day — which she did.” Receiving the award is Taylor’s granddaughter Naomi Wilding.
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