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Liz Taylor
celebrates 75th birthday in Las Vegas

Liz Taylor
celebrates 75th birthday in Las Vegas

Film legend Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her 75th birthday on Tuesday night with a New Orleans-themed party flanked by her four children and famous friends spanning the generations from model Kathy Ireland to former rival Debbie Reynolds.

Taylor, who suffers chronic back pain, made a cheerful entrance to the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas resort in a wheelchair escorted by her sons, Michael and Christopher Wilding, and daughters, Maria Burton and Liza Todd, en route to her party at a restaurant in the property.

The two-time Academy Award winner and Dame Commander of the British Empire was adorned by a white fur and satin robe and resplendent in an icicle-design pearl and diamond necklace from her jewelry line called Frost.

Taylor's voice was soft and she seemed frail as she chatted briefly with reporters, telling them her secret to making it to 75 was "just living a very healthy, clean life."

The guest list of about 70 people was an eclectic variety of stars like Reynolds and cohorts like Los Angeles dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein, with whom she has worked for decades on HIV/AIDS awareness and fund-raising. The theme of the party arranged by her children was New Orleans, a hotel spokeswoman said, but no other details have been made available.

"We're friends since Elizabeth and I were 17, so that's just two years ago," quipped Reynolds, who turns 75 herself on April 1 and was accompanied at the party by her daughter, actress Carrie Fisher.

Reynolds and Taylor had a falling out after Reynolds' then-husband dumped her for Taylor in 1959 to become the fourth of Taylor's eight husbands. The women later reconciled. "Elizabeth Taylor is a great American star, a great American beauty just like Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe," said Reynolds.

Other present included Las Vegas personalities such as hotel-casino mogul Steve Wynn and former headliners Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn of the illusionist duo Siegfried and Roy. Pop singer Michael Jackson, a longtime friend of Taylor's, did not attend the party.

One of Taylor's younger guests was Ireland, 43, who gushed about the philanthropy of the woman who was named the seventh-greatest film actress of all time by the American Film Institute.

"She's absolutely gorgeous, but more important than that, she's my hero," Ireland said. "She's an amazing person who really demonstrates what one person can do to accomplish positive change. She's so courageous, so heroic, so wise and so giving and generous."

Taylor first achieved stardom at age 12 in National Velvet and went on to win two Academy Awards for her role as a call girl in the 1960 film Butterfield 8 and for playing an alcoholic wife opposite her real-life husband at the time, Richard Burton, in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Her last screen appearance was in the 2001 television movie These Old Broads, in which Reynolds costarred. She's been beset by a variety of health problems in recent years, including a hip replacement in 1995 and surgery to remove a brain tumor in 1997.(Reuters)

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