Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS honors Dame Elizabeth Taylor

By David-Elijah Nahmod, Oct. 23, 2014.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor was an Oscar-winning actress with worldwide fame by 1985 — that was also the year her friend and co-star Rock Hudson died of AIDS, at age 59.

Together with Dr. Mathilde Krim, she co-founded the American Foundation of AIDS Research (AMFAR) and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

When she died at age 79, she left behind a legacy of acting and activism. And, on Oct. 28, the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS will honor the memory of Elizabeth Taylor with “Jubilee” at the historic Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix.

Elizabeth Taylor at an early AMFAR event.

Elizabeth Taylor at an early AMFAR event.

“Elizabeth Taylor absolutely captivated the Phoenix audience when she was at Gift of Life,” said Kirk Baxter, Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS founder, who sat on the board of the Arizona AIDS Fund Trust at the time. “To have Ms. Taylor, Bob Hope and a Broadway cast come to Phoenix in 1986 … was a dream come true that brought Hollywood glamor to the Valley of the Sun. More importantly, it was a renewed chance for life for so many.”

“Jubilee is a glam cocktail party with entertainment, treasures and merriment, with a ticket purchase upgrade to include dinner and a movie — an Elizabeth Taylor classic film,” said Joel Goldman, Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation’s managing director.

The event will include various activities on the main level of the mansion, including a silent auction, a reception, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, dinner and dessert, and “plenty of classic Hollywood glam to entertain fans of the era.”

Special guest speaker Laela Wilding, Taylor’s eldest granddaughter, will share stories, experiences and her grandmother’s mark on the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“My grandmother believed in treating the whole person who was battling HIV/AIDS — not just with medicine, but with food, shelter, psychological support and most of all love,” Wilding shared via the event’s website. “Supporting Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS is a perfect example of her passion. It’s my honor to take part in your Jubilee celebrating Elizabeth Taylor’s film legacy, as well as my grandmother’s commitment to caring for people who live each day with HIV/AIDS.”

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the Southwest Center For HIV/AIDS.

“As AIDS was ravaging America, Elizabeth Taylor wondered why no one was doing anything,” Goldman said. “Elizabeth Taylor rallied Hollywood in 1985 to get involved with the cause. Many turned her down because AIDS was so controversial.”

Despite this, she established the first star-studded fundraiser in 1985 for AIDS Project Los Angeles, honoring Betty Ford with the “Commitment to Life” award, Goldman added.

“A little known fact is that it was Elizabeth Taylor who persuaded President Ronald Reagan to give his first speech on AIDS in 1987,” he said. “She went to global meetings with heads of state all over the world to make sure AIDS was on the agenda.”

Goldman said he absolutely think’s Taylor’s early stand for people living with HIV/AIDS expedited the growing acceptance today.

“Many of the groups who have been leaders in the fight for equality started as organizations focusing on HIV/AIDS,” he said. “Many of these organizations have bestowed their highest honor on Elizabeth Taylor for her leadership.”


6:30 p.m. Oct. 28
The Wrigley Mansion
2501 E. Telawa Trail, Phoenix
Tickets: $40-$300