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Running With AIDS Project LA

By Ted Chen

March 24, 2011

The gratitude was on display in West Hollywood, where the Abbey restaurant created a special place of honor for Elizabeth Taylor.

"She came here many times, and one time she said, 'This is my favorite pub,'" said David Cooley of The Abbey. "I asked her if I could quote her from that and she said, 'Of course.'"

The Abbey put out flowers Wednesday to pay respects to the legendary movie star who put love over fear.

Some West Hollywood residents remember Elizabeth Taylor attending an AIDS Project Los Angeles fundraiser in 1985. Many people at the time were afraid to talk about AIDS, but not Elizabeth Taylor.

In fact, West Hollywood City Council Member John Duran said one of Taylor's first fundraisers was held in West Hollywood because no one else would open their doors.

"None of the theater venues were willing to host a fundraiser for HIV and AIDS," said Duran. "People were afraid of catching the disease."

Taylor said the only thing she was afraid of was losing more friends. One of her closest friends was actor Rock Hudson, probably the first really high profile AIDS victim.

His death from AIDS both shocked the world and gave Taylor even more motivation to bring attention to a disease she felt was being ignored. She was highly critical of the Reagan and Bush Administrations while at the same time getting more high profile support from close friends like Michael Jackson and Elton John.

"She was really putting her celebrity status on the line," said Craig Thompson of AIDS Project Los Angeles. "People said why would you do that and she said, why not?"

Activists said no one was better at getting corporations to open up their wallets for AIDS research.

"It's one thing to get a fund raising call from an AIDS Outreach organization," said Thompson. "But getting a call from Elizabeth Taylor is completely different."