Elizabeth Taylor’s Actor Son Grew Up To Bear An Uncanny Resemblance To His Screen-Goddess Mom

The late great Elizabeth Taylor was renowned for her performances in National Velvet and Cleopatra, friendship with Michael Jackson and eight walks down the aisle. Yes, eight! But you might not know that she was also very much a devoted mother. And she shared a particularly strong resemblance with her eldest son Michael, too.

Yes, Elizabeth’s first-born certainly inherited the Taylor genes when he arrived in 1953. Like his younger brother Christopher, who was welcomed into the world two years later, Michael Howard Wilding also followed his mother into showbiz. But while Michael chose to display his talents in front of the cameras, Christopher opted to showcase his behind them.

That’s right, Christopher has enjoyed success as both a film editor and photographer. His status in high society also grew when he married into the Getty dynasty in the early 1980s. Sadly, Christopher’s relationship with Aileen Getty, daughter of oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty, didn’t go the distance. After just eight years as husband and wife, the pair went their separate ways.

Elizabeth also had two daughters. Her first, Liza Burton Tivey, arrived in 1957 and spent much of her childhood at a Swiss private school. She did get the chance to experience life on a film set, regularly accompanying her mom on the Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? shoot. But unlike her older brothers, Liza had little interest in becoming a star.

When asked by a British reporter at a party held by her parents whether she had any Hollywood ambitions, the twelve-year-old Liza replied, “An actress. Urggh.” Instead, Elizabeth’s third-born went on to pursue a career in sculpting. She would also later marry and have two kids of her own in upstate New York.

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In 1961 Elizabeth became a mother for a fourth time when she adopted a German orphan she rechristened Maria. The youngster would later attempt to make a name for herself as both a fashion designer and model before co-founding a talent agency. Maria launched the business venture with her then-husband Steve Carson, who it’s fair to say wasn’t the biggest fan of his mother-in-law.

Yes, when his marriage broke down at the turn of the century, Steve allegedly laid the blame squarely at the two-time Oscar winner. Biographer William J. Mann told ABC News in 2011, “Elizabeth becomes the mother hen when those kids were threatened. She took Maria’s side and bore the brunt of the criticism through that ordeal.”

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So why have we rarely heard about Elizabeth’s maternal side? Well, Mann believes it’s because society struggles to equate such a glamorous woman with motherhood. The biographer said, “She was this globetrotting beautiful siren who kept them out of the spotlight — she wasn’t pushing them onto TV shows as some famous parents do. There wasn’t a lot of use of her children in the media.”

In fact, Elizabeth would go out of her way to make sure her four kids didn’t have to deal with the limelight. She once hired no fewer than 12 security guards to watch over her two daughters during a trip to Rome. But although the screen goddess was fiercely protective of her children, she wasn’t always particularly hands-on.

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Mann told ABC News, “There were a lot of nannies and assistants to take care of the kids. She was more of the pal than the disciplinarian. She was the kind of mother who said, ‘I’m here if you want to talk to me.’ She was only 18 when she had Michael, they weren’t that far apart in age…” Perhaps this explains why lookalikes Elizabeth and Michael often seemed like siblings rather than mother and son.

As well as maintaining a glittering film career, Elizabeth was also kept busy single-handedly propping up the wedding planner industry. The Cleopatra star even surpassed Henry VIII’s marriage tally by tying the knot on no fewer than eight occasions. And she wasted little time in before embarking on her first one.

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Elizabeth was only 18 years old when she first said ‘I do’ in May 1951. Paris Hilton’s great-uncle Conrad was her first husband. But their wedded bliss didn’t last long. Elizabeth reportedly suffered both emotional and physical abuse at the hands of the playboy socialite. By February the following year the star had become a divorcee.

Just 12 months later, though, Elizabeth found her second husband. The much older British actor Michael Wilding was thankfully a little more stable than her first and he’d go on to father the Oscar winner’s two sons, Christopher and her lookalike Michael. But their relationship broke down after five years, with Wilding’s jealousy over Elizabeth’s continued success reportedly a catalyst.

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It was only month after her second divorce before Elizabeth was hearing wedding bells again. Producer Michael Todd, whose child the actress was already carrying, was the lucky man this time around. Elizabeth once remarked that their marriage had been her happiest. But it ended in the most tragic way possible.

In March 1958, just over a year after he became Elizabeth’s third husband, Todd was killed in a plane crash. And it turned out that Taylor was extremely lucky not to have lost her life, too. If the star hadn’t come down with a cold at the time, she would have been on board the same fatal flight.

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It’s fair to say that Elizabeth’s next marriage wasn’t her most popular with the general public. Fourth husband Eddie Fisher had been best pals with Todd and had comforted the actress at his funeral. A star in his own right, singer Eddie also divorced national treasure Debbie Reynolds in order to tie the knot with Elizabeth.

The response to Elizabeth and Eddie’s relationship was so overwhelmingly negative that NBC decided to yank Fisher’s TV show off the air. Tempting fate you could say, the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof star once claimed, “Our honeymoon will last 40 years.” In the end, she was only about 35 years out.

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Elizabeth’s fifth marriage would prove to be her longest and by far her most famous. The actress fell head over heels in love with Richard Burton while filming Cleopatra in 1962, a period where both stars were already married. Their affair was considered so scandalous that even the Vatican couldn’t help but comment on their lack of morality.

Despite the furore, Elizabeth remained adamant that this was fifth time lucky. She reportedly once said, “If Richard and I divorce, I swear I will never marry anyone again. I love him insanely.” To be fair, their relationship did make the ten-year mark, a first and last for the serial bride. But in 1974 she headed for the divorce courts once again.

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But as the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And after a brief romance with Ardeshir Zahedi, an Iranian ambassador, Elizabeth reunited with what many consider to be the true love of her life. In fact, she even exchanged wedding vows with Richard once again in 1975 — only one year after their divorce. Unfortunately, the Welshman’s drinking habits ensured that their second marriage lasted barely a year.

Elizabeth’s seventh husband — and eighth marriage — came in 1976. And this time things got political. After walking down the aisle with Republican John Warner, the star campaigned hard for his bid to become senator of Virginia. This was despite the fact that she’d been a Democrat all her life. The switch in allegiance did wonders for Warner, who won the seat. But it still didn’t stop the pair from getting divorced six years later.

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Having previously married a politician, a fellow Hollywood star and the heir to a hotel empire, Elizabeth surprised everyone in 1991 when she said, ‘I do’ to a construction worker. Larry Fortensky was also 20 years younger than the Academy Award winner. And to make their romance even more unlikely, they met at rehab.

After getting hitched at the Neverland ranch of long-time friend Michael Jackson, Elizabeth delivered another one of her famous predictions. “This is it, forever,” she told the press. But to the surprise of no one, the actress and her mullet-haired toyboy went their separate ways after just five years.

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Larry proved to be Elizabeth’s final husband. The actress spent her later years dealing with several serious health problems and in 2011 she passed away in a Los Angeles hospital. Elizabeth had been receiving treatment at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after showing congestive heart failure symptoms. In a statement, eldest son Michael described the mother he’d often been physically compared to as “an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest.”

Michael’s brother Christopher would also pay tribute to his mother in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter five years later. “She was so beautiful, some people tended to overlook her great acting chops,” the youngest son of the big screen icon claimed. Christopher also discussed the two Academy Awards that Elizabeth won and how they now take pride of place at his California home.

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Awarded for the star’s performances in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Butterfield 8, Christopher was forbidden from ever touching the two statuettes when he was growing up. But the brothers were given the chance to play with the Golden Globes their mother won. The film editor added, “I guess the Globes didn’t have as much cachet as they do now.”

Who knows, perhaps the two brothers’ Golden Globes playtime inspired them to pursue a career in the entertainment world themselves? But while Christopher chose to work behind the scenes, Michael preferred to take center stage. He landed his first major gig in 1984 musical dramedy Blame It on the Night. And the family resemblance didn’t go unnoticed.

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In a 1987 profile of Michael, People magazine commented on just how much he looked like his Oscar-winning mother. Reporter John Stark wrote, “He does indeed have his mom’s features — the same mouth, black hair and white skin. The eyes are a luminous blue, like Mom’s.” The piece also noted how Michael was “lanky and gaunt” like his namesake father.

Michael acknowledged in the same article that his famous name had helped him to attract attention. He said, “I realize the reason I get interviewed is because I have very famous parents, not because of something outstanding I’m doing. I don’t believe that will always be the case. I believe I will someday have a career that will stand for itself.”

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Michael’s confidence at the time wasn’t unfounded either. Only a year earlier he’d been cast as rock promoter Jackson Freemont in Guiding Light. Elizabeth’s oldest son appeared in the daytime institution eight times over two years. Then in 1989 he bagged a role in another soap opera, and one that pulled in millions more viewers, too.

Yes, Michael enjoyed an eight-episode stint as an art dealer named Alex Barton in the hugely popular oil family drama Dallas. Explaining his character arc in an interview with The Free Lance-Star, the actor said, “He’s kind of a Henry Higgins because he finds a young artist and sees a great potential in her. He feels he can steer her in the right direction.”

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But it was another part Michael landed that same year which showed once again just how closely he resembled his famous mother. The actor appeared alongside Elizabeth in NBC TV movie Sweet Bird of Youth. Michael showed up as a film producer who tries to coax his faded star mom, played by his real-life one, back into the industry.

Michael explained to The Free Lance-Star, “In the scene, we’re on the telephone so I just played one side of the conversation. I’m looking forward to seeing the scene put together. When I got the part I thought it would be fun to work with her, but I guess she filmed her part several weeks later. I’ve yet to act in a scene with her.”

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Unfortunately for Michael, he never got the chance to act opposite his mother, or indeed anyone else on screen again. Yes, Elizabeth’s oldest son seemed to take a backseat from the TV and film industry after the double whammy of Dallas and Sweet Bird of Youth. So what has he been up to since?

Well, Michael’s no doubt been kept busy by his parental commitments. He first became a father in 1971 when first wife Beth Clutter gave birth to a girl named Laela. Just three years later he welcomed second daughter Naomi into the world with another woman, Johanna Lykke-Dahn. During this period, Michael was reportedly a bit of a wild man and determined to build a career as a rock musician.

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Michael admitted to People magazine in 1987 that this was a testing time for his mother. He said, “I was carrying on with my life as I saw fit, and it may not have always seemed the best thing to her. She tried to have faith in what I chose to do, though sometimes it was a bit difficult for her.”

In the same interview, Michael went on to praise Elizabeth for how she handled the divorce from his father when he was just four years old. He said, “My mother was careful not to divide up the family. She maintained a very good relationship with my father… As a kid, I’d often visit him in England.”

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Perhaps inspired by his mother, Michael didn’t let a failed marriage deter him from walking down the aisle again. Although luckily, second time appears to have been the charm. The one-time actor has been married to Brooke Palance since 1982. And his wife also has a Hollywood icon for a parent, City Slickers star Jack Palance. In 1989 the pair became parents to son Tarquin.

Just like his father, Tarquin also appears to have inherited Elizabeth’s famous piercing eyes and high cheekbones. And he’s followed in her footsteps, too, by pursuing a career in Hollywood. But as with his cinematographer uncle Andrew, Tarquin has chosen to develop his talents behind the scenes as a filmmaker.

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In a 2017 interview with Town and Country, Tarquin discussed how proud he is to be part of the Taylor family. He said, “I often think about how lucky I am to have been born into a group of such wacky, caring, sensitive people. We admire my grandmother for her boundless generosity, and I believe that we all feel grateful to be able to honor and continue her legacy. Especially together.”

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