For more than six decades she has been part of our lives. An American icon, Elizabeth Taylor has been surrounded by fame and notoriety since childhood. Now acclaimed biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli looks past the tabloid version of Elizabeth's life to the person she really is -- and how she evolved from a child star to a woman in her own right. At the heart of this impeccably researched work is the first fully realized portrait of Elizabeth Taylor's family: her canny, controlling mother, who, from the moment she laid eyes on her baby, began plotting her success; and her father, often portrayed as distant, but whose connection with his daughter was far more complex than people knew. As Taraborrelli brings to life the people around Elizabeth and her rise in 1940s Hollywood, he reveals the qualities that made her a star, the associations that put her at the right place at the right time, and the ways in which she was singularly unprepared for life out on her own. While Elizabeth's eight marriages to seven men have been widely publicized, this author examines the psychological and emotional roots of each relationship, including her abusive marriage to Nicky Hilton, her attraction to swashbuckling Mike Todd, and the complex, incendiary Taylor-Burton love affair that continued for decades and never truly died. Finally, Taraborrelli chronicles Elizabeth's most bravura performance of all. Despite the highly public battles with substance abuse and chronic illness, she achieved new success and sustenance in family, friendships, and philanthropy. With never-before-published family photos by Taylor historian Tom Gates, as well as rare family photos, Elizabeth is the story of a woman you thought you knew -- and can now finally begin to understand.