Actress, legend, humanitarian and Burton-Burton Dame Elizabeth Taylor was an early and important advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS. She lobbied a cruelly indifferent administration to take action; when it didn't, she co-founded amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research; and she stood publicly by longtime friend Rock Hudson during his battle with the disease.
But that wasn't all the Dame did. Taylor's protégée—supermodel, affordable home goods mogul and AIDS activist Kathy Ireland—recently revealed to Entertainment Tonight that Liz ran an illegal safe house for people with AIDS where they could receive experimental medication, as depicted in The Dallas Buyers Club:
“Talk about fearless in her home in Bel-Air. It was a safe house. A lot of the work that she did, it was illegal, but she was saving lives. It was in a time when it was not something to do. Business associates pleaded with her, ‘Leave this thing alone.’ She received death threats. Friends hung up on her when she asked for help, but something that I love about Elizabeth is her courage.”
Taylor even hocked some of her famous jewels to fund the operation.
As the Reagan Administration and the FDA were dragging their feet on finding a cure, these kinds of buyers clubs became essential for people with AIDS to receive unapproved prescription drugs from foreign countries like Mexico, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as information on treating HIV and opportunistic infections.
And there was Liz Taylor, yelling at Congress, making clandestine drops of cash in paper bags and redefining the role of celebrity in the fight against the deadliest epidemic in modern times. All the while dripping in fur and diamonds. Meanwhile, when is this being made into a movie? Lohan, you stay out of this.