March 28, 2011 / 11:51 PM / 7 years ago

Elizabeth Taylor letters reveal her love at age 17

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In newly revealed love letters, a 17 year-old Elizabeth Taylor shared her dreams with her fiance before later agonizing about returning an engagement ring when the relationship soured.

A May 3, 1949 letter written by actress Elizabeth Taylor to then fiance William Pawley Jr is shown in this publicity photo released to Reuters March 28, 2011. In newly revealed love letters to be auctioned, a 17 year-old Elizabeth Taylor shared her dreams with her fiance before later agonizing about returning an engagement ring when the relationship soured. REUTERS/RR Auction/Handout

The handwritten letters are from 1949, when Taylor was engaged to William Pawley Jr, who was in his 20s and the son of a wealthy American businessman and ambassador.

Taylor, who died last week aged 79, was already a famous Hollywood actress at the time, having starred in the 1944 movie “National Velvet.”

The correspondence, which New Hamphire-based RR Auction is selling in May, open a window to Taylor’s view of life and love, before she was to be married and divorced eight times throughout her life.

“I received your wire this morning about sending the ring and bracelet to New York,” Taylor wrote Pawley in a letter dated September 20, 1949, when their relationship was ending.

“I have the ring on now — It is sparkling so beautifully in the sunshine — I suppose this will be the last time I have it on — for a while at least — take good care of it, Darling — for my heart is embeded right there in the center of it.”

Taylor died on March 23 of congestive heart failure, and is remembered as one of Hollywood’s great leading ladies. She won an Oscar for “BUtterfield 8” (1960) and another for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” (1966).

RR Auction obtained the letters two years ago from a representative for Pawley.

There are 66 letters from Taylor and 20 letters from her mother, who told Pawley to leave her daughter alone when the engagement ended, said Bobby Livingston, vice president of sales and marketing at RR Auction.

The auction was scheduled before Taylor died and the items had been expected to sell for $25,000 to $30,000, but that figure is likely to rise, Livingston said.


The letters begin in March 1949, soon after Taylor had met Pawley while vacationing in Florida with her family.

In a letter dated March 28, 1949, Taylor wrote that she longed to be with Pawley.

“I want our hearts to belong to each other throughout eternity — I want us to be ‘lovers’ always ... even after we’ve been married seventy-five years and have at least a dozen great-great-grandchildren,” she wrote.

Taylor in the letters also talks about saving herself for her marriage to Pawley. And she describes dating college football star Glenn Davis in a sham relationship that sprang from the advice of Hollywood publicists, Livingston said.

Pawley was jealous about seeing pictures in newspapers of Taylor on dates with other men, and their relationship suffered as a result, Livingston said.

“Our icons, we tend to forget that they’re human, vulnerable people, and here (Taylor) is revealing herself and her struggles well before the incredibly hectic life she’s about to embark on just a few months later when she gets married for the first time,” Livingston said.

Taylor married hotel heir Conrad Hilton Jr in May 1950.

Some of Taylor’s letters to Pawley are written on her own colored letterhead, and some are on letterhead from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio she worked for at the time.

Pawley is still alive, but has said little publicly about his decades-old relationship with Taylor, Livingston said.

A May 3, 1949 letter written by a 17 year-old Elizabeth Taylor to then fiance William Pawley Jr. REUTERS/RR Auction

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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