Elizabeth Taylor was honored Sunday night at a star-studded bash celebrating her 65th birthday and benefiting an AIDS foundation days before she was scheduled to undergo brain surgery.
Taylor, dressed in a green gown and coat, walked on stage and sat down beside her longtime pal, Michael Jackson. Jackson, who escorted Taylor along a violet carpet into the theater, had written a song for her, “Elizabeth.”
Magician David Copperfield, Harry Connick Jr., Patti LaBelle, Rod Stewart, Kevin Bacon and the Bacon Brothers also were on hand to pay tribute.
The audience was treated to never-before-seen footage of the actress’s life and a career that began at 9 and garnered best actress Academy Awards for “Butterfield 8” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
The black-tie benefit, “Happy Birthday, Elizabeth - A Celebration of Life” raised more than $1 million for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which distributes money for AIDS research and treatment.
It was held at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre and videotaped for a two-hour ABC special to air Feb. 24.
A blocklong stretch of Hollywood Boulevard was renamed Elizabeth Taylor Way on Sunday in honor of Taylor’s birthday celebration. Her actual birthday, though, is Feb. 27.
Taylor needs an operation to remove a benign brain tumor, the latest in a long series of health setbacks. Her surgery was originally planned for Monday but was postponed for sometime this week because she still has lingering flu symptoms. No date has been set.
Taylor had both hips replaced in recent years, then had to return for hip surgery in October 1995 because one operation left her with one leg shorter than the other.
The violet-eyed actress had been hospitalized a month earlier for an irregular heartbeat. Serious respiratory problems nearly killed her in 1990 and kept her hospitalized for three months.
Last year, she divorced husband No. 7, Larry Fortensky, after less than four years of marriage.