Actress Taylor Had Ties to Horse Racing

Cross-posted from the BloodHorse


Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet 1944. Image from TV Guide.
Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet 1944. Image from TV Guide.

Iconic actress Elizabeth Taylor, who had a lifelong interest in horses and starred in the film “National Velvet,” died March 23 at age 79.

In “National Velvet,” Taylor plays a young girl named Velvet Brown, who trains a horse for the Grand National Steeplechase, ends up disguising herself as a male jockey, and rides the horse to victory. Many of the scenes from that movie were filmed at Santa Anita Park in Southern California.

Later in life, Taylor attended several Thoroughbred races in Europe and the United States. She was pictured with her third husband, Mike Todd, and their friends Eddie Fisher (who she would later marry) and wife Debbie Reynolds at Epsom Downs on Derby Day in 1957.

Taylor also attended the 1968 Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris with fifth husband Richard Burton, Maria Callas, and Peter O’Toole.

Another one of Taylor’s husbands, John Warner, a Virginia politician to whom she was married from 1976 to 1982, was a horse owner and breeder. The couple lived on his Atoka Farm near Loudoun County, Va., and was photographed at the Washington D.C. International Stakes at Laurel Park.

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Ms Taylor was also an expert rider. She received her first horse when a small girl, a gift from her Godfather Victor.

2 thoughts on “Actress Taylor Had Ties to Horse Racing”

  1. I think if Liz T. really knew about the horrors of horse slaughtering plants and the horse racing industry she would of taken a more active roll as an activist for thoroughbreds and horses in general. She did love animals, it kind of a mystery why she didn’t see what was happening. She could have made a difference with her money and her popularity.


  2. Although very different from the book…my dad, my mum, my sister and & I, my husband, and now my children have all loved and enjoyed “National Velvet” and Elizabeth Taylor’s performance in it. She did most of her own riding and stunts in it and her lifelong back problems stem from an injury during it’s filming. She had ties to horse racing, yes, she loved horses, her first and best loved horse was her Newfoundland Pony, Betty. To quote her ” I really didn’t have much of a youth, you know, except for those first seven years riding my horse back in Kent. Those are the happiest memories of my life — riding bareback on those 3,000 acres and being able to jump over streams and go through the forests.
    “It was a magical experience. I could let my imagination fly, my sense of poetry fly. It was like a make-believe world, but it was a real world” . In pictures of that time you can see the joy in her face when she is with her animals.
    She was a wonderfully talented actress and one of the few remaining stars who, although plagued with health issues lifelong, and never blessed with longterm marital happiness, yet remained a good friend, a staunch supporter of causes such as AIDS research and needle exchange long before they were popular, because she could see the faces of the people involved and not just the disease and the fact that some were gay(very unpopular at that time)(you should listen to her testimony before the senate at the time) and a lover of animals her whole life. In the new introduction to the re-issue of her book “Nibbles and Me”, which she wrote when she was 13, she says “Over the years, animals have remained my sweetest and most cherished friends”. Elizabeth Taylor made the tabloids many times in her life, but the real woman never changed…and she loved life and animals. Her beauty was much more than skin deep.


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