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Elizabeth Taylor Late to Own Funeral, Just as She Planned

Elizabeth TaylorDiseases and IllnessesTelevisionHIV - AIDSLarry King

GLENDALE (KTLA) -- A private funeral service was held Thursday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park for legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Taylor is being interred in the cemetery's Great Mausoleum, the same building where her close friend, Michael Jackson is entombed, as well as film stars such as Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.

The service, which lasted over an hour, got off to a late start - something Taylor had requested in her will.

"Miss Taylor had left instructions that it was to begin at least 15 minutes later than publicly scheduled, with the announcement, 'She even wanted to be late for her own funeral,'" her publicist said Thursday.

The service was restricted to family members, including her 10 grandchildren.

Taylor had four children: Michael and Christopher Wilding (with Taylor's second husband, actor Michael Wilding), Liza Todd (with third husband, Mike Todd) and Maria Burton (adopted by Taylor and actor Richard Burton.)

The 2 times Oscar winner died early Wednesday morning at the age of 79 of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to her publicist, Sally Morrison.

She was surrounded by her children, Morrison said.

Taylor was hospitalized in February for symptoms caused by congestive heart failure, described at the time as an ongoing condition.

Her condition had stabilized, and it was hoped she would be able to return home.

Taylor, famous for her eight marriages -- twice to actor Richard Burton -- underwent heart surgery in 2009 to replace a leaky valve.

She announced in 2004 that she had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure -- a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to other organs.

Taylor's son, Michael Wilding, released the following statement after Taylor's death:

"My Mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love. Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.

"Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts."

In addition to her children, Taylor is survived by 10 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

A private family funeral later this week. Details about a public memorial will be released later, Morrison said.

Flowers will be placed on her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Wednesday. The star is located at 6336 Hollywood Boulevard.

The London-born Taylor, who won Oscars for her roles in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" in 1966 and "Butterfield 8" in 1960, has been using a wheelchair for more than five years to cope with chronic pain after breaking her back four times.

In 2006, she appeared on Larry King's CNN interview show to deny reports that she was gravely ill or suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

VIDEO: Larry King Calls To Talk About Death of Elizabeth Taylor

Taylor has had three hip-replacement operations, a benign brain tumor, skin cancer and pneumonia. She spent two stints in rehab in the 1980s for alcohol and prescription drug addiction.

Taylor first achieved stardom at the age of 12 in "National Velvet" and became famous for her violet eyes, dark alluring beauty and love of diamonds.

She had not appeared on screen since the 2001 TV movie "Old Broads." Her last Hollywood movie performance was the 1994 live action comedy "The Flintstones."

Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor were cast in a memorable motion picture classic, National Velvet, in 1944, when she was only 12-years old. He was then 24.

They have been life-long friends ever since that first film.

Today, Mr. Rooney had this to say about the death of his friend: "Our loss in the motion picture business with Elizabeth Taylor's passing is momentous. She was a lady who gave of herself to everyone. I know I consider it a great personal loss."

There was also reaction from celebrities around the world. Elton John issued this statement: "We have just lost a Hollywood giant; more importantly, we have lost an incredible human being."

Joan Collins remembered Taylor as a great beauty, "she was the last of the true Hollywood icons, a great beauty, a great actress and continually fascinating the world throughout her tumultuous life and career."

Nancy Reagan worked with Taylor at MGM when she was just a teenager: "Elizabeth Taylor as a dear friend," Reagan said in a statement on Wednesday. "I watched her grow into one of Hollywood's finest actresses."

"She was passionate -- and compassionate -- about everything in her life, including her family, her friends and especially the victims of AIDS. She was truly a legend and we will miss her."

Taylor made many charity appearances, especially those connected to her AIDS foundation.

"Elizabeth Taylor holds a special place in the hearts of people with AIDS and their supporters for her tireless efforts to combat this dreaded disease," Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation said. "Long before it was fashionable, she was there by our side. We will miss her."

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Elizabeth TaylorDiseases and IllnessesTelevisionHIV - AIDSLarry King