VIDEO: Kathy Ireland: Elizabeth Taylor Ran Underground Network To Provide HIV Drugs
Film and theatre legend Elizabeth Taylor was known throughout her career as a symbol of glamour and beauty, but when the AIDS crisis reached epidemic proportions during the 1980s, she was also known by many for her selflessness and compassion.
In 1984, when a homophobic show business industry avoided public association with gay people, Taylor began activism and fundraising for AIDS research and care for its victims, a cause she remained faithful to until her death in 2011.
In 1985 she co-founded the National AIDS Research Foundation in California, which merged with Dr. Mathilde Krim's New York-based AIDS foundation to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR).
But in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, model Kathy Ireland, who was a friend and business partner, revealed that Elizabeth Taylor also risked arrest by illegally providing experimental HIV drugs to patients who were suffering without hope.
"Talk about fearless," says Ireland. "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."
Since her passing, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation has given tens of millions of dollars to hundreds of organizations in more than 30 countries.