Thursday, March 24, 2011
Elton Pays Tribute to the Late Elizabeth Taylor
Singer Elton John paid tribute to his friend and fellow AIDS-activist, Elizabeth Taylor, at a concert in Pittsburgh Wednesday night.
"Today I lost a friend and you lost a hero named Elizabeth Taylor," the singer told a cheering crowd at the Consol Energy Center. "She was not just a movie star, although she was a huge movie star and there will never be anyone like her again ... She was without a doubt one of the greatest people I've ever met in my life."
"She stood up when no one was prepared to stand up and be counted against AIDS," John continued. "She supported everybody in that with 1,000% of her body and her fiber. But most of all she loved people. She fought for the underdog. She was an incredible woman and I was privileged to have known her."
As John began to play the opening notes of his song "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" he said "God bless you, Elizabeth. God knows how we're going to replace you. This is for you and your beautiful memory and for all the people you helped and saved."
Taylor and John have been active for years in raising awareness about AIDS and HIV, as well as raising money for research and care for sufferers. John accepted an award on her behalf from the group she helped create, the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), at the group's 25th annual black-tie benefit in February.
Taylor passed away early Wednesday at the age of 79.
Founder Sir Elton John, Chairman David Furnish, and the Board of Directors and staff of the Elton John AIDS Foundation deeply mourn the death of legendary film actress and HIV/AIDS activist and humanitarian Dame Elizabeth Taylor. Sir Elton John stated, "We have just lost a Hollywood giant, but more importantly we have lost an incredible human being. Elizabeth Taylor earned her fame with her extraordinary talent as a young actress, making her first movie at the tender age of nine. She earned our adoration for her stunning beauty and for being the very essence of glamorous movie stardom. And she earned our enduring love and respect for her compassion and her courage in standing up and speaking out about AIDS when others preferred to bury their heads in the sand."
David Furnish added, "In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Elizabeth Taylor was a force of nature. She compelled people to listen, made them respond, and urged them to act. She gave comfort to the dying, roundly condemned the stigma associated with AIDS, and was fiercely critical of the government's sluggish, reluctant response to the epidemic."
In the early 1980s, Dame Elizabeth founded the National AIDS Research Foundation, which joined forces with Dr. Mathilde Krim's AIDS Medical Foundation in 1985 to become amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. On amfAR's behalf, Dame Elizabeth traveled to many parts of the world, broadcasting her message of compassion and tolerance, pushing for a more vigorous global response to the epidemic, and raising millions of dollars for AIDS research. She also testified before Congress, most memorably rounding up Senate support for the Ryan White CARE Act of 1990. In 1991, she founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to support organizations providing direct care and services to people living with HIV/AIDS; to date, her Foundation has distributed more than $12 million to AIDS service organizations across the country. Elizabeth Taylor's extraordinary achievements have earned her numerous accolades and honors, including two Academy Awards for Best Actress; the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award; the French Legion of Honor; the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; and a Presidential Citizens Medal.
EJAF's Executive Director Scott Campbell noted, "Elizabeth Taylor has inspired every one of us and many millions of others around the world. She has shown us the meaning of courage and moral responsibility in the face of injustice and bigotry. We join our colleagues at amfAR in mourning the loss of an extraordinary leader in the fight against AIDS."