The Westboro Baptist Church announced that it planned to picket the funeral of Oscar-winning actress and anti-AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor after she died Wednesday at age 79.
Taylor, arguably the last great star of Hollywood’s golden era, died six weeks after being admitted to Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai hospital with congestive heart failure, a condition she had struggled with for years.
“My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love,” said her son Michael Wilding, adding that she was surrounded by her children when she died.
The Westboro Baptist Church has become infamous for picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers and carrying signs that state “God hates fags.” In typical fashion Margie J. Phelps, daughter of the church’s leader Fred Phelps, said Taylor “joined Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger in hell.”
Taylor won two Academy Awards for best actress, including in the 1966 classic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” one of many films she played opposite Richard Burton.
The Welsh-born actor was one of the great loves of Taylor’s life — she married and divorced him twice — but her stormy relationships off-screen and eight marriages often overshadowed her glittering film career.
In her later years, she blazed a trail as an activist to raise funds to fight AIDS/HIV, working hard to support research into a cure, and dispel the stigma surrounding the illness.
“Her legacy improved the lives of millions of people, and will continue for many generations to come,” longtime activist AIDS Kevin Frost who heads the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), co-founded by Taylor, told AFP.
As her health failed in later years, she retired from the public gaze, although she notably attended the 2009 funeral of her longtime friend Michael Jackson.
Tributes poured in from across the world Wednesday, as actors and directors mourned Taylor’s passing.