LOS ANGELES (RNN) - Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor has died at age 79, according to a statement issued by her publicist.
The statement, which was issued to the Associated Press, said that the actress died of congestive heart failure Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. She was surrounded by her loved ones in her hospital room at the time of her death.
"She was surrounded by her children," publicist Sally Morrison, said in the statement.
In a statement issued to ABC News, Taylor's son, Michael Wilding, said his mother was an extraordinary woman who always lived life to the fullest.
"Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us and her love will live forever in our hearts," he said.
Taylor was born Feb. 27, 1932, in London, England. At the age of 7, her family fled a Europe on the brink of World War II for the U.S.
Taylor's family moved to Los Angeles, where she was signed to Universal Pictures and made her professional film debut at the age of 10 as Gloria Twine in Harold Young's "There's One Born Every Minute."
Taylor received three Oscars during her storied career. The first came for her portrayal of Gloria Wandrous in Butterfield 8 in 1960. Six years later, she again won a best actress statuette for her performance as larger-than-life Martha in Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf."
Taylor also was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Oscars in 1992 for her work with AIDS.
Taylor began the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in October of 1991. The charity funds AIDS service organizations across the globe.
"We mourn the loss of legendary actress, businesswoman, and fearless activist Elizabeth Taylor," the foundation wrote on its website Wednesday.
Taylor, one of the first vocal advocates for AIDS, was also the founding national chairman of the American Foundation of AIDS Research.
"Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished," Wilding said in his statement to ABC News. "We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it."
The award-winning actress had a famous first - she was the first on-screen talent to sign a $1 million up-front contract for her performance in the title role of Cleopatra.
As celebrated as her acting work was, the actress on-camera work was arguably eclipsed by her tabloid-making personal life. Taylor was married eight times, including twice to actor Richard Burton, her Cleopatra co-star.
Copyright 2011 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved. Sources: Internet Movie Data Base, TV Guide Biography.