"I'VE DONE that enough, thank you very much," Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner told reporters in London last December when she was asked about her marriage plans.
But Taylor, who has been known to favor marriage over the humdrum routine of affairs, apparently decided she hadn't done it enough after all.
She sprang plans for her eighth nuptials--this time to Mexican lawyer Victor Gonzalez Luna--at a party Tuesday night in Philadelphia, just one month after Richard Burton (husband No. 5 and 6) married his companion, Sally Hay. This being the 1980s and all, Burton was on hand for Taylor's big news.
Joan Rivers, who should have a ball with this one, was unavailable for comment.
"I'm in love," Taylor, 51, told friends gathered at the Cafe Royal in Philadelphia, where she and Burton are starring in "Private Lives" at the Forrest Theatre. Her engagement ring is a 16 1/2-carat sapphire surrounded by diamonds, which she flashed to guests.
What's one more millionaire, one more ring the size of a Ping-Pong ball, one more marriage?
Forevermore this time. Of course.
They called her "Luscious Liz."
"Fully developed physically at 16," the Associated Press recalled in 1961, "she remarked: 'I have the emotions of a child and the body of a woman.' "
In the 1961 interview she said: "I was rushed into womanhood for the movies. It caused me long moments of unhappiness and doubt."
In 1951, an official biography from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer described how she got in shape for the part of Velvet Brown in "National Velvet," the role that established her as a star when she was 12:
The producer "told her she was too small for the role, however well she might ride. Elizabeth decided to grow.
"She ate more than she had ever eaten in her life and added two extra hours' sleep each night. In three months she grew three inches, and even her doctor was amazed. At the end of the time, she reported to producer Pandro Berman and said simply, 'I told you I would grow.' "
In 1961, the world watched as her seven doctors said she was near death in London, suffering from severe pneumonia in both lungs.
She's been nominated for five Oscars and has won two for Best Actress, in 1960 for "Butterfield 8" and in 1966 for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Last year, she filed suit against ABC to stop a docudrama on her life from being made. Her argument: "I am my own commodity. I am my own industry."
Her stage debut in 1981, in Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes," was sold out wherever she went. It prompted reporters to ask if she felt the role was stretching her. "Honey," she said to one, "I've been stretching all my life."
She hasn't done as well with reviewers of "Private Lives." When it opened in Boston, critic Kevin Kelly described Taylor as "perfectly terrible," "coy as a fat owl" and "sounding like Minnie Mouse and weighted down to her ankles in comedic intent."
The play begins previews at the Kennedy Center next week.
Taylor was divorced last year from John Warner, five years after she said, "I want to spend the rest of my life with him and I want to be buried with him."
During those years, she liked to call herself "a housewife from a little town in Virginia." In Warner's successful Senate campaign in 1978, she drew spectacular crowds.
A series of mishaps--such as the well-known choking-on-a-chicken-bone incident--seemed to follow her on the campaign trail. She fell on the ice and broke her finger. She twisted her ankle on the way to a campaign dinner. She was treated for an injury when a sliver of metal became lodged under her eyelid while eating pizza in Richmond.
Yet she soldiered on. "We're all just little grains of sand," she said when asked why she thought Warner should serve in the Senate. "But if all of us tiny pieces of sand can come together, we can make a stone; that stone can become a boulder and that boulder can become a huge body . . ."
"The senator wishes her the best in the world," Irene Ford, Warner's press aide, said yesterday.
Taylor and Luna, who plan to wed at the year's end, have been denying marriage rumors for the past six months.
No date has been set for the wedding, according to Taylor's longtime friend and publicist Chen Sam.
Taylor's first four husbands were hotel heir Conrad (Nicky) Hilton, actor Michael Wilding, the late producer Michael Todd and singer Eddie Fisher.
First married in 1950 at 18 to Hilton, Taylor ran home to her mother not six months after the wedding because of a "big fight." She divorced Hilton in 1952 and married Wilding the same year. They were divorced in 1957. That year she married Todd, who left her a widow one year later. In 1959, she wed Eddie Fisher, who divorced Debbie Reynolds for Taylor, and then dumped him in a soap opera-type drama for Burton in 1964.
The Burton union was rather long for Taylor. Ten years.
When they were married she said, "I'm so happy you can't believe it . . . I love him enough to stand by him, no matter what he might do, and I would wait."
She divorced him in 1974, but then, once again, decided marriage wasn't that bad after all. She remarried him in 1975.
She said, "There will be bloody no more marriages or divorces. We are stuck like chicken feathers to tar--for lovely always."
They were divorced again in 1976.
Early last year, when both Burton and Taylor were separated from their respective spouses, they met in London for the first time since their second divorce. Followed everywhere by reporters, they danced cheek to cheek at Taylor's 50th birthday party, she with bare feet. They walked hand in hand to a nightclub. When Burton, leaving Taylor's apartment at dawn, was asked by reporters if they would be seeing each other again, he replied, "That's a repulsive and obscene question."
Luna, 56, a corporate lawyer from Guadalajara, is divorced and has four children. He said last November that he found Taylor "very intelligent, extremely humane and a woman of great sensitivity."
Initially, Luna denied any romantic involvement with Taylor. "Unfortunately," he said in an interview last year, "because of Elizabeth Taylor's fame and beauty, they immediately want to link us emotionally. We have a sincere friendship. It is premature to talk now of marriage; for that, only time will tell."
In January, Luna and Taylor traveled to the Mideast on a peace mission--which included a car accident in which both were injured. Taylor also ended up in the hospital with respiratory problems.
In February, for Taylor's 51st birthday, Luna gave her two gold coins on a chain.
Sam said the couple met a year ago in Los Angeles at a memorial service for a mutual friend. She also said Taylor was "very happy."