Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor DBE (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) was an English-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian. She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. She continued her career successfully into the 1960s, remaining a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the seventh-greatest female screen legend of Classic Hollywood cinema.
Born in London to socially prominent American parents, Taylor moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1939. She made her acting debut with a minor role in the Universal Pictures film There's One Born Every Minute (1942), but the studio ended her contract after a year. She was then signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and became a popular teen star after appearing in National Velvet (1944). She transitioned to mature roles in the 1950s, when she starred in the comedy Father of the Bride (1950) and received critical acclaim for her performance in the drama (1951).
Despite being one of MGM's most bankable stars, Taylor wished to end her career in the early 1950s. She resented the studio's control and disliked many of the films to which she was assigned. She began receiving more enjoyable roles in the mid-1950s, beginning with the epic drama Giant (1956), and starred in several critically and commercially successful films in the following years. These included two film adaptations of plays by Tennessee Williams: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959); Taylor won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for the latter. Although she disliked her role as a call girl in BUtterfield 8 (1960), her last film for MGM, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
During the production of the film Cleopatra in 1961, Taylor and co-star Richard Burton began an extramarital affair, which caused a scandal. Despite public disapproval, they continued their relationship and were married in 1964. Dubbed "Liz and Dick" by the media, they starred in 11 films together, including The V.I.P.s (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Taylor received the best reviews of her career for Woolf, winning her second Academy Award and several other awards for her performance. She and Burton divorced in 1974, but reconciled soon after, and remarried in 1975. The second marriage ended in divorce in 1976.
Taylor's acting career began to decline in the late 1960s, although she continued starring in films until the mid-1970s, after which she focused on supporting the career of her sixth husband, United States Senator John Warner (R-Virginia). In the 1980s, she acted in her first substantial stage roles and in several television films and series. She became the second celebrity to launch a perfume brand, after Sophia Loren. Taylor was one of the first celebrities to take part in HIV/AIDS activism. She co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985 and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991. From the early 1990s until her death, she dedicated her time to philanthropy, for which she received several accolades, including the Presidential Citizens Medal.
Throughout her career, Taylor's personal life was the subject of constant media attention. She was married eight times to seven men, converted to Judaism, endured several serious illnesses, and led a jet set lifestyle, including assembling one of the most expensive private collections of jewelry in the world. After many years of ill health, Taylor died from congestive heart failure in 2011, at the age of 79.
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London. She received dual British-American citizenship at birth, as her parents, art dealer Francis Lenn Taylor (1897–1968) and retired stage actress Sara Sothern (née Sara Viola Warmbrodt, 1895–1994), were United States citizens. They moved to London in 1929 and opened an art gallery on Bond Street; their first child, a son named Howard, was born the same year.
The family lived in London during Taylor's childhood. Their social circle included artists such as Augustus John and Laura Knight, and politicians such as Colonel Victor Cazalet. Cazalet was Taylor's unofficial godfather, and an important influence in her early life. She was enrolled in Byron House, a Montessori school in Highgate, and was raised according to the teachings of Christian Science, the religion of her mother and Cazalet.
In early 1939, the Taylors decided to return to the United States due to fear of impending war in Europe. In early 1940, Francis Taylor opened a new gallery in Los Angeles, and the Taylor family settled in Beverly Hills, where the two children were enrolled in Hawthorne School.
In California, Taylor's mother was frequently told that her daughter should audition for films. Elizabeth Taylor's eyes in particular drew attention; they were blue, to the extent of appearing violet, and were rimmed by dark double eyelashes caused by a genetic mutation. Elizabeth Taylor auditioned for both Universal Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in early 1941. Both studios offered Taylor contracts, and Sara Taylor chose to accept Universal's offer.
Taylor began her contract in April 1941 and was cast in a small role in There's One Born Every Minute (1942).
In late 1942, she auditioned for a minor role in Lassie Come Home (1943), which required a child actress with an English accent.
Taylor was cast in her first starring role at the age of 12, when she was chosen to play a girl who wants to compete as a jockey in the exclusively male Grand National in National Velvet. MGM had been looking for a suitable actress with a British accent and the ability to ride horses since 1937.
As she was deemed too short, filming was pushed back several months to allow her to grow; she spent the time practicing riding. In developing her into a new star, MGM required her to wear braces to correct her teeth, and had two of her baby teeth pulled out. The studio also wanted to dye her hair and change the shape of her eyebrows, and proposed that she use the screen name "Virginia", but Taylor and her parents refused.
National Velvet became a box-office success upon its release on Christmas 1944.
Taylor later called it "the most exciting film" of her career and stated that her childhood ended when she became a star, as MGM started to control every aspect of her life. She described the studio as a "big extended factory", where she was required to adhere to a strict daily schedule: days were spent attending school and filming at the studio lot, and evenings in dancing and singing classes, and in practising the following day's scenes.
Following the success of National Velvet, MGM gave Taylor a new seven-year contract with a weekly salary of $750, and cast her in a minor role in the third film of the Lassie series, Courage of Lassie (1946). The studio also published a book of Taylor's writings about her pet chipmunk, Nibbles and Me (1946), and had paper dolls and coloring books made after her.
When Taylor turned 15 in 1947, MGM began to cultivate a more mature public image for her by organizing photo shoots and interviews that portrayed her as a "normal" teenager attending parties and going on dates.
Taylor's last adolescent role was as Amy March in Mervyn LeRoy's Little Women (1949). While this version did not match the popularity of the previous 1933 film adaptation of Louisa M. Alcott's novel, it was a box-office success. The same year, Time featured Taylor on its cover, and called her the leader among Hollywood's next generation of stars, "a jewel of great price, a true sapphire".
Taylor made the transition to adult roles when she turned 18 in 1950.
In may 1950, Taylor married hotel-chain heir Conrad Hilton Jr. in a highly publicized ceremony.
The event was organized by MGM, and used as part of the publicity campaign for Taylor's next film, Vincente Minnelli's comedy Father of the Bride (1950), in which she appeared opposite Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett as a bride preparing for her wedding. The film became a box-office success upon its release in June, grossing $6 million worldwide, and was followed by a successful sequel, Father's Little Dividend (1951), ten months later.
Taylor's next film release, George Stevens' A Place in the Sun (1951), marked a departure from her earlier films. According to Taylor, it was the first film in which she had been asked to act, instead of simply being herself, and it brought her critical acclaim for the first time since National Velvet. Based on Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy (1925), it featured Taylor as a spoiled socialite who comes between a poor factory worker (Montgomery Clift) and his pregnant girlfriend (Shelley Winters). Stevens cast Taylor as she was "the only one ... who could create this illusion" of being "not so much a real girl as the girl on the candy-box cover, the beautiful girl in the yellow Cadillac convertible that every American boy sometime or other thinks he can marry".
A Place in the Sun was a critical and commercial success, grossing $3 million.
Taylor next starred in the romantic comedy Love Is Better Than Ever (1952). According to Alexander Walker, MGM cast her in the "B-picture" as a reprimand for divorcing Hilton in January 1951 after only nine months of marriage, which had caused a public scandal that reflected negatively on her. After completing Love Is Better Than Ever, Taylor was sent to Britain to take part in the historical epic Ivanhoe (1952), which was one of the most expensive projects in the studio's history and became one of MGM's biggest commercial successes, earning $11 million in worldwide rentals.
Despite her grievances with the studio, Taylor signed a new seven-year contract with MGM in the summer of 1952. Although she wanted more interesting roles, the decisive factor in continuing with the studio was her financial need; she had recently married British actor Michael Wilding, and was pregnant with her first child. In addition to granting her a weekly salary of $4,700, MGM agreed to give the couple a loan for a house, and signed her husband for a three-year contract.Due to her financial dependency, the studio now had even more control over her than previously.
In the fall of 1954, Taylor starred in two films. The first was Beau Brummell, a Regency era period film. Taylor disliked historical films in general, as their elaborate costumes and make-up required her to wake up earlier than usual to prepare. She later said that she gave one of the worst performances of her career in Beau Brummell. The second film was Richard Brooks' The Last Time I Saw Paris, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story. Taylor liked the film, and later stated that it "convinced me I wanted to be an actress instead of yawning my way through parts". While The Last Time I Saw Paris was not as profitable as many other MGM films, it garnered positive reviews. Taylor became pregnant again during the production, and had to agree to add another year to her contract to make up for the period spent on maternity leave.
After lobbying director George Stevens, she won the female lead role in Giant (1956), an epic drama about a ranching dynasty, which co-starred Rock Hudson and James Dean. Its filming was a difficult experience for Taylor, as she clashed with Stevens, and was often ill, resulting in delays. To further complicate the production, Dean died in a car accident only days after completing filming; grieving Taylor still had to film reaction shots to their joint scenes. When Giant was released a year later, it became a box-office success.
MGM re-united Taylor with Montgomery Clift in Raintree County (1957), a Civil War drama which it hoped would replicate the success of Gone with the Wind (1939). Taylor was nominated for the first time for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
Taylor considered her next performance as Maggie the Cat in the screen adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) a career "high point." But it coincided with one of the most difficult periods in her personal life.
After completing Raintree Country, she had divorced Wilding and married producer Mike Todd. She had completed only two weeks of filming in March 1958, when Todd was killed in a plane crash. Although she was devastated, pressure from the studio and the knowledge that Todd had large debts led Taylor to return to work only three weeks later. She later said that "in a way ... [she] became Maggie", and that acting "was the only time I could function" in the weeks after Todd's death.
During the production, Taylor's personal life drew more attention when she began an affair with singer Eddie Fisher, whose marriage to actress Debbie Reynolds had been idealized by the media as the union of "America's sweethearts". The affair – and Fisher's subsequent divorce – changed Taylor's public image from a grieving widow to a "homewrecker".
MGM used the scandal to its advantage by featuring an image of Taylor posing on a bed in a slip in the film's promotional posters. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof grossed $10 million in American cinemas alone, and made Taylor the year's second-most profitable star. And she was nominated for an Academy Award.
Taylor's next film, Joseph L. Mankiewicz' Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), was another Tennessee Williams adaptation, and co-starred Montgomery Clift and Katharine Hepburn. The independent production earned Taylor $500,000 for playing the role of a severely traumatized patient in a mental institution. Although the film was a drama about mental illness, childhood traumas, and homosexuality, it was again promoted with Taylor's sex appeal; both its trailer and poster featured her in a white swimsuit. The strategy worked, as the film was a financial success. Taylor received her third Academy Award nomination and her first Golden Globe for Best Actress for her performance.
Taylor’s last film with MGM BUtterfield 8 (1960), a drama about a high-class sex worker, won her Academy Award.
After completing her MGM contract, Taylor starred in 20th Century-Fox's Cleopatra (1963). This historical epic made her more famous than ever before. She became the first actress to be paid $1 million for a role; Fox also granted her 10% of the film's profits, as well as shooting the film in Todd-AO, a widescreen format for which she had inherited the rights from Mike Todd.
Life proclaiming it the "Most Talked About Movie Ever Made", mostly due to her affair with Richard Burton, her co star.
Filming began in England in 1960, but had to be halted several times because of bad weather and Taylor's ill health. It was finally completed in July 1962in Rome. The film's final cost was $62 million, making it the most expensive film made up to that point.
Cleopatra became the biggest box-office success of 1963 in the United States; the film grossed $15.7 million at the box office. Regardless, it took several years for the film to earn back its production costs, which drove Fox near to bankruptcy. The studio publicly blamed Taylor for the production's troubles and unsuccessfully sued Burton and Taylor for allegedly damaging the film's commercial prospects with their behavior. In retrospect, Taylor called Cleopatra a "low point" in her career.
Hollywood film producers were eager to profit from the scandal surrounding Taylor and Burton, and they next starred together in Anthony Asquith's The V.I.P.s (1963), which mirrored the headlines about them. Taylor played a famous model attempting to leave her husband for a lover, and Burton her estranged millionaire husband. Released soon after Cleopatra, it became a box-office success.
After completing The V.I.P.s, Taylor took a two-year hiatus from films, during which Burton and she divorced their spouses and married each other.
The supercouple continued starring together in films in the mid-1960s, earning a combined $88 million over the next decade; Burton once stated, "They say we generate more business activity than one of the smaller African nations."
Their film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), an adaptation of a play of the same name by Edward Albee, featured the most critically acclaimed performance of Taylor's career. The film also became one of the biggest commercial successes of the year. Taylor received her second Academy Award, and BAFTA, National Board of Review, and New York City Film Critics Circle awards for her performance.
Taylor's career was in decline by the late 1960s. She had gained weight, was nearing middle age, and did not fit in with New Hollywood stars such as Jane Fonda and Julie Christie.
After several years of nearly constant media attention, the public was tiring of Burton and her, and criticized their jet set lifestyle.
Taylor and Burton's last film together was the Harlech Television film Divorce His, Divorce Hers (1973), fittingly named as they divorced the following year.
Taylor took fewer roles after the mid-1970s, and focused on supporting the career of her sixth husband, Republican politician John Warner, a US senator.
After a period of semi-retirement from films, Taylor ook on her first substantial stage role, playing Regina Giddens in a Broadway production of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes.
The production premiered in May 1981, and had a sold-out six-month run despite mixed reviews.
Encouraged by the success of The Little Foxes, Taylor and producer Zev Buffman founded the Elizabeth Taylor Repertory Company. Its first and only production was a revival of Noël Coward's comedy Private Lives, starring Taylor and Burton.
It premiered in Boston in early 1983, and although commercially successful, received generally negative reviews, with critics noting that both stars were in noticeably poor health – Taylor admitted herself to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center after the play's run ended, and Burton died the following year.
From the mid-1980s, Taylor acted mostly in television productions.
In the 1990s, Taylor focused her time on HIV/AIDS activism. Her last theatrically released film was in the critically panned, but commercially successful, The Flintstones (1994).
Taylor received American and British honors for her career: the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1993, the Screen Actors Guild honorary award in 1997, and a BAFTA Fellowship in 1999. In 2000, she was appointed a Dame Commander in the chivalric Order of the British Empire in the millennium New Year Honours List by Queen Elizabeth II.
Taylor was one of the first celebrities to participate in HIV/AIDS activism and helped to raise more than $270 million for the cause.
Taylor began her philanthropic efforts in 1984 by helping to organize and by hosting the first AIDS fundraiser to benefit the AIDS Project Los Angeles. In August 1985, she and Dr. Michael Gottlieb founded the National AIDS Research Foundation after her friend and former co-star Rock Hudson announced that he was dying of the disease.
In 1991, Taylor founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) to raise awareness and to provide support services for people with HIV/AIDS, paying for its overhead costs herself.
Taylor also founded the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center to offer free HIV/AIDS testing and care at the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D. C., and the Elizabeth Taylor Endowment Fund for the UCLA Clinical AIDS Research and Education Center in Los Angeles.
Taylor was honored with several awards for her philanthropic work. She was made a Knight of the French Legion of Honour in 1987, and received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993, the Screen Actors' Guild Lifetime Achievement Award for Humanitarian service in 1997, the GLAAD Vanguard Award in 2000, and the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001.
Taylor was the first celebrity to create her own collection of fragrances. In collaboration with Elizabeth Arden, Inc., she began by launching two best-selling perfumes – Passion in 1987, and White Diamonds in 1991. Taylor personally supervised the creation and production of each of the 11 fragrances marketed in her name.
In 2005, Taylor also founded a jewelry company, House of Taylor, in collaboration with Kathy Ireland and Jack and Monty Abramov.
According to biographers Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, she earned more money through the fragrance collection than during her entire acting career, and upon her death, the British newspaper The Guardian estimated that the majority of her estimated $600 million-$1 billion estate consisted of revenue from fragrances.
Throughout her adult years, Taylor's personal life, especially her eight marriages (two to the same man), drew a large amount of media attention and public disapproval.
Film tycoon Howard Hughes also wanted to marry her, and offered to pay her parents a six-figure sum of money if she were to become his wife. Taylor declined the offer.
Taylor was 18 when she married Conrad "Nicky" Hilton Jr., heir to the Hilton Hotels chain, at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills on May 6, 1950. MGM organized the large and expensive wedding, which became a major media event. In the weeks after their wedding, Taylor realized that she had made a mistake; not only did she and Hilton have few interests in common, but he was also abusive and a heavy drinker. She was granted a divorce in January 1951, eight months after their wedding.
Taylor married her second husband, British actor Michael Wilding – a man 20 years her senior – in a low-key ceremony at Caxton Hall in London on February 21, 1952. They had two sons: Michael Howard (b. January 6, 1953) and Christopher Edward (b. February 27, 1955). As Taylor grew older and more confident in herself, she began to drift apart from Wilding, whose failing career was also a source of marital strife. Taylor and Wilding announced their separation on July 18, 1956, and were divorced in January 1957.
Taylor married her third husband, theater and film producer Mike Todd, in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico, on February 2, 1957. They had one daughter, Elizabeth "Liza" Frances (b. August 6, 1957). Todd, known for publicity stunts, encouraged the media attention to their marriage. His death in a plane crash on March 22, 1958, left Taylor devastated. She was comforted by Todd's and her friend, singer Eddie Fisher, with whom she soon began an affair. As Fisher was still married to actress Debbie Reynolds, the affair resulted in a public scandal, with Taylor being branded a "homewrecker". Taylor and Fisher were married at the Temple Beth Sholom in Las Vegas on May 12, 1959; she later stated that she married him only due to her grief.
While filming Cleopatra in Italy in 1962, Taylor began an affair with her co-star, Welsh actor Richard Burton, although Burton was also married. Rumors about the affair began to circulate in the press. The scandal caused Taylor and Burton to be condemned for "erotic vagrancy" by the Vatican, with calls also in the US Congress to bar them from re-entering the country. Taylor was granted a divorce from Fisher on March 5, 1964 in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, and married Burton 10 days later in a private ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal. Burton subsequently adopted Liza Todd and Maria Burton (b. August 1, 1961), a German orphan whose adoption process Taylor had begun while married to Fisher.
Dubbed "Liz and Dick" by the media, Taylor and Burton starred together in 11 films, and led a jet-set lifestyle, spending millions on "furs, diamonds, paintings, designer clothes, travel, food, liquor, a yacht, and a jet".
They divorced for the first time in June 1974, but reconciled, and remarried in Kasane, Botswana, on October 10, 1975. The second marriage lasted less than a year, ending in divorce in July 1976. Taylor and Burton's relationship was often referred to as the "marriage of the century" by the media, and she later stated, "After Richard, the men in my life were just there to hold the coat, to open the door. All the men after Richard were really just company."
Soon after her final divorce from Burton, Taylor met her sixth husband, John Warner, a Republican politician from Virginia. They were married on December 4, 1976, after which Taylor concentrated on working for his electoral campaign. Once Warner had been elected to the Senate, she started to find her life as a politician's wife in Washington, D.C., boring and lonely, becoming depressed, overweight, and increasingly addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol. Taylor and Warner separated in December 1981, and divorced a year later in November 1982.
She met her seventh – and last – husband, construction worker Larry Fortensky, at the Betty Ford Center in 1988. They were married at the Neverland Ranch of her long-time friend Michael Jackson on October 6, 1991. The wedding was again subject to intense media attention, with one photographer parachuting to the ranch and Taylor selling the wedding pictures to People for $1 million, which she used to start her AIDS foundation.
Taylor and Fortensky divorced in October 1996, but remained in contact for life. She attributed the split to her painful hip operations and his obsessive-compulsive disorder. In the winter of 1999, Fortensky underwent brain surgery after falling off a balcony and was comatose for six weeks; Taylor immediately notified the hospital she would personally guarantee his medical expenses. At the end of 2010, she wrote him a letter that read: "Larry darling, you will always be a big part of my heart! I'll love you for ever." Taylor's last phone call with Fortensky was on February 7, 2011, one day before she checked into the hospital for what turned out to be her final stay. He told her she would outlive him. Although they had been divorced for almost 15 years, Taylor left Fortensky $825,000 in her will.
Taylor struggled with health problems for most of her life. She was born with scoliosis and broke her back while filming National Velvet in 1944. The fracture went undetected for several years, although it caused her chronic back problems. In 1956, she underwent an operation in which some of her spinal discs were removed and replaced with donated bone. Taylor was also prone to other illnesses and injuries, which often necessitated surgery; in 1961, while filming Cleopatra she survived a near-fatal bout of pneumonia that required a tracheotomy.
In addition, she was addicted to alcohol and prescription pain killers and tranquilizers. She was treated at the Betty Ford Center for seven weeks from December 1983 to January 1984, becoming the first celebrity to openly admit herself to the clinic. Taylor also struggled with her weight – she became overweight in the 1970s, especially after her marriage to Senator John Warner, and published a diet book about her experiences, Elizabeth Takes Off (1988).
Taylor was a heavy smoker until she experienced a severe bout of pneumonia in 1990.
Taylor's health increasingly declined during the last two decades of her life, and she rarely attended public events after about 1996. She underwent hip replacement surgery in the mid-1990s, underwent surgery for a benign brain tumor in 1997, and was successfully treated for skin cancer in 2002. She used a wheelchair due to her back problems, and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2004.
Six weeks after being hospitalized, she died of the illness at age 79 on March 23, 2011, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Her funeral took place the following day at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. The service was a private Jewish ceremony presided over by Rabbi Jerome Cutler. At Taylor's request, the ceremony began 15 minutes behind schedule, as, according to her representative, "She even wanted to be late for her own funeral". She was entombed in the cemetery's Great Mausoleum.
Taylor was one of the last stars of classical Hollywood cinema, and one of the first modern celebrities. During the era of the studio system, she exemplified the classic film star. She was portrayed as different from "ordinary" people, and her public image was carefully crafted and controlled by MGM. When the era of classical Hollywood ended in the 1960s, and paparazzi photography became a normal feature of media culture, Taylor came to define a new type of celebrity, whose real private life was the focus of public interest.
Regardless of the acting awards she won during her career, Taylor's film performances were often overlooked by contemporary critics. Five films in which she starred – Lassie Come Home, National Velvet, A Place in the Sun, Giant, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – have been preserved in the National Film Registry, and the American Film Institute has named her the seventh greatest female screen legend of classical Hollywood cinema.
Taylor is considered a fashion icon both for her film costumes and personal style. At MGM, her costumes were mostly designed by Helen Rose and Edith Head, and in the 1960s by Irene Sharaff. Her most famous costumes include a white ball gown in A Place in the Sun (1951), a Grecian dress in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), a green A-line dress in Suddenly Last Summer (1959), and a slip and a fur coat in BUtterfield 8 (1960). Her make-up look in Cleopatra (1963) started a trend for "cat-eye" make-up done with black eyeliner.
Taylor collected jewelry through her life, and owned the 33.19-carat (6.638 g) Krupp Diamond, the 69.42-carat (13.884 g) Taylor-Burton Diamond, and the 50-carat (10 g) La Peregrina Pearl, all three of which were gifts from husband Richard Burton. She also published a book about her collection, My Love Affair with Jewelry, in 2002.
Taylor helped to popularize the work of fashion designers Valentino Garavani and Halston. She received a Lifetime of Glamour Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 1997. After her death, her jewelry and fashion collections were auctioned by Christie's to benefit her AIDS foundation, ETAF. The jewelry sold for a record-breaking sum of $156.8 million, and the clothes and accessories for a further $5.5 million.
Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an American business magnate, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor. He was the chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), and co-founder of Apple Inc.; the chairman and majority shareholder of Pixar; a member of The Walt Disney Company's board of directors following its acquisition of Pixar; and the founder, chairman, and CEO of NeXT. Jobs is widely recognized as a pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, along with his early business partner and fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco, California, and put up for adoption. He was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attended Reed College in 1972 before dropping out that same year, and traveled through India in 1974 seeking enlightenment and studying Zen Buddhism.
Jobs and Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1976 to sell Wozniak's Apple I personal computer. Together the duo gained fame and wealth a year later with the Apple II, one of the first highly successful mass-produced microcomputers. Jobs saw the commercial potential of the Xerox Alto in 1979, which was mouse-driven and had a graphical user interface (GUI). This led to the development of the unsuccessful Apple Lisa in 1983, followed by the breakthrough Macintosh in 1984, the first mass-produced computer with a GUI. The Macintosh introduced the desktop publishing industry in 1985 with the addition of the Apple LaserWriter, the first laser printer to feature vector graphics. Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985 after a long power struggle with the company's board and its then-CEO John Sculley. That same year, Jobs took a few of Apple members with him to found NeXT, a computer platform development company that specialized in computers for higher-education and business markets. In addition, he helped to develop the visual effects industry when he funded the computer graphics division of George Lucas's Lucasfilm in 1986. The new company was Pixar, which produced the first 3D computer animated feature film Toy Story (1995), and went on to become a major animation studio, producing over 20 films since then.
Jobs became CEO of Apple in 1997, following his company's acquisition of NeXT. He was largely responsible for helping revive Apple, which had been on the verge of bankruptcy. He worked closely with designer Jony Ive to develop a line of products that had larger cultural ramifications, beginning in 1997 with the "Think different" advertising campaign and leading to the iMac, iTunes, iTunes Store, Apple Store, iPod, iPhone, App Store, and the iPad. In 2001, the original Mac OS was replaced with the completely new Mac OS X (now known as macOS), based on NeXT's NeXTSTEP platform, giving the OS a modern Unix-based foundation for the first time. Jobs was diagnosed with a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor in 2003. He died of respiratory arrest related to the tumor at age 56 on October 5, 2011.
Steven Paul Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, to Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Schieble, and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs.
His biological father, Abdulfattah 'John' al-Jandali (Arabic: عبد الفتاح الجندلي), grew up in Homs, Syria, and was born into an Arab Muslim household. While an undergraduate at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, he was a student activist and spent time in prison for his political activities. He pursued a PhD at the University of Wisconsin, where he met Joanne Carole Schieble, a Catholic of Swiss and German descent. As a doctoral candidate, Jandali was a teaching assistant for a course Schieble was taking. Walter Isaacson, author of the Steve Jobs biography, states that Schieble's father "threatened to cut Joanne off completely" if she continued the relationship.
Schieble became pregnant with Steve Jobs in 1954, when she and Jandali spent the summer with his family in Homs, Syria. According to Jandali, Schieble deliberately did not involve him in the process: "without telling me, Joanne upped and left to move to San Francisco to have the baby without anyone knowing, including me."
Schieble gave birth to Steve Jobs on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco and chose an adoptive couple for him that was "Catholic, well-educated, and wealthy," but the couple later changed their mind. Steve Jobs was then placed with Paul and Clara Jobs.
Paul Reinhold Jobs was a Coast Guard mechanic. After leaving the Coast Guard, Paul Jobs married Clara Hagopian in 1946. Their attempts to start a family were halted after Clara had an ectopic pregnancy, leading them to consider adoption in 1955.
As neither of them had a college education, Schieble refused to sign the adoption papers, and took the matter to court in an attempt to have her baby placed with a different family, and only consented to releasing the baby to Paul and Clara after the couple pledged to pay for the boy's college education. Steve's first cousin, Bassma Al Jandaly, maintains that his birth name was Abdul Lateef Jandali.
When he grew up, Steve Jobs would become upset when Paul and Clara were referred to as his "adoptive parents"; he regarded them as his parents "1,000%". With regard to his biological parents, Jobs referred to them as "my sperm and egg bank. That's not harsh, it's just the way it was, a sperm bank thing, nothing more."
Paul and Clara adopted a girl, Patricia(who would be Steve Jobs's sister) in 1957 and by 1959 the family had moved to the Monta Loma neighborhood in Mountain View, California. It was during this time that Paul built a workbench in his garage for his son in order to "pass along his love of mechanics." Jobs, meanwhile, admired his father's craftsmanship "because he knew how to build anything. If we needed a cabinet, he would build it. When he built our fence, he gave me a hammer so I could work with him ... I wasn't that into fixing cars ... but I was eager to hang out with my dad."
Jobs had difficulty functioning in a traditional classroom while attending Monta Loma Elementary School in Mountain View, but his father Paul (who was abused as a child) never reprimanded him, and instead blamed the school for not challenging his brilliant son.
Jobs would later credit his fourth grade teacher, Imogene "Teddy" Hill, with turning him around: "She taught an advanced fourth grade class and it took her about a month to get hip to my situation. She bribed me into learning. She would say, 'I really want you to finish this workbook. I'll give you five bucks if you finish it.' That really kindled a passion in me for learning things! I learned more that year than I think I learned in any other year in school. They wanted me to skip the next two years in grade school and go straight to junior high to learn a foreign language but my parents very wisely wouldn't let it happen." Jobs skipped the 5th grade and transferred to the 6th grade at Crittenden Middle School in Mountain View where he was often "bullied", and in the middle of 7th grade, he gave his parents an ultimatum: they had to either take him out of Crittenden or he would drop out of school.
Though the Jobs family was not well off, they used all their savings in 1967 to buy a new home, allowing Jobs to change schools. The new house was in the better Cupertino School District, Cupertino, California. (In 2013, The house, a three-bedroom home on Crist Drive in Los Altos, California, was declared a historic site, as it was the first site for Apple Computer, ND. As of 2013, it was owned by Patty and occupied by Jobs's step-mother, Marilyn).
The location of the Los Altos home meant that Jobs would be able to attend nearby Homestead High School, which had strong ties to Silicon Valley.
He underwent a change during mid-1970: "I got stoned for the first time; I discovered Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, and all that classic stuff. I read Moby Dick and went back as a junior taking creative writing classes." Jobs also later noted to his official biographer that "I started to listen to music a whole lot, and I started to read more outside of just science and technology—Shakespeare, Plato. I loved King Lear ... when I was a senior I had this phenomenal AP English class. The teacher was this guy who looked like Ernest Hemingway. He took a bunch of us snowshoeing in Yosemite." During his last two years at Homestead High, Jobs developed two different interests: electronics and literature.
By his senior year in late 1971, he was taking freshman English class at Stanford and working on a Homestead underground film project with Chrisann Brennan, girl friend of Steve Wozniak, friend of Steve Jobs.
Around that time, Steve Wozniak designed a low-cost digital "blue box" to generate the necessary tones to manipulate the telephone network, allowing free long-distance calls. Jobs decided then to sell them and split the profit with Wozniak. Jobs later reflected that had it not been for Wozniak's blue boxes, "there wouldn't have been an Apple".
By his senior year of high school, Jobs began using LSD. He later recalled that on one occasion he consumed it in a wheat field outside Sunnyvale, and experienced "the most wonderful feeling of my life up to that point".
In September 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He insisted on applying only to Reed although it was an expensive school that Paul and Clara could ill afford.
After just one semester, Jobs dropped out of Reed College without telling his parents. Jobs later explained that he decided to drop out because he did not want to spend his parents' money on an education that seemed meaningless to him. He continued to attend by auditing his classes, which included a course on calligraphy that was taught by Robert Palladino. In a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, Jobs stated that during this period, he slept on the floor in friends' dorm rooms, returned Coke bottles for food money, and got weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple. In that same speech, Jobs said: "If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts."
In February 1974, Jobs returned to his parents' home in Los Altos and began looking for a job. He was soon hired by Atari, Inc. in Los Gatos, California, which gave him a job as a technician.
By early 1974, Jobs was living what Chrisann Brennan describes as a "simple life" in a Los Gatos cabin, working at Atari, and saving money for his impending trip to India.
Jobs traveled to India in mid-1974 to visit Neem Karoli Baba at his Kainchi ashram in search of spiritual enlightenment. When they got to the Neem Karoli ashram, it was almost deserted because Neem Karoli Baba had died in September 1973. Then they made a long trek up a dry riverbed to an ashram of Haidakhan Babaji.
After seven months, Jobs left India and returned to the US. Jobs had changed his appearance; his head was shaved and he wore traditional Indian clothing. During this time, Jobs experimented with psychedelics, later calling his LSD experiences "one of the two or three most important things [he had] done in [his] life". He spent a period at the All One Farm, a commune in Oregon that was owned by Robert Friedland.
During this time period, Jobs and Brennan both became practitioners of Zen Buddhism through the Zen master Kōbun Chino Otogawa. Jobs was living in his parents' backyard toolshed, which he had converted into a bedroom. Jobs engaged in lengthy meditation retreats at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the oldest Sōtō Zen monastery in the US. He considered taking up monastic residence at Eihei-ji in Japan, and maintained a lifelong appreciation for Zen.
In mid-1975, after returning to Atari, Jobs was assigned to create a circuit board for the arcade video game Breakout. According to Bushnell, Atari offered US$100 for each TTL chip that was eliminated in the machine. Jobs had little specialized knowledge of circuit board design and made a deal with Steve Wozniak to split the fee evenly between them if Wozniak could minimize the number of chips. According to Wozniak, Jobs told him that Atari gave them only $700 (instead of the $5,000 paid out), and that Wozniak's share was thus $350. Wozniak did not learn about the actual bonus until ten years later, but said that if Jobs had told him about it and explained that he needed the money, Wozniak would have given it to him.
Jobs and Wozniak attended meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club in 1975, which was a stepping stone to the development and marketing of the first Apple computer.
By March 1976, Wozniak completed the basic design of the Apple I computer and showed it to Jobs. In April of that same year, Jobs, Wozniak, and administrative overseer Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computer Company (now called Apple Inc.) as a business partnership in Jobs's parents' Crist Drive home on April 1, 1976. The operation originally started in Jobs's bedroom and later moved to the garage. Wayne stayed only a short time, leaving Jobs and Wozniak as the active primary cofounders of the company. The two decided on the name "Apple" after Jobs returned from the All One Farm commune in Oregon and told Wozniak about his time spent in the farm's apple orchard. Later that year, computer retailer Paul Terrell purchased 50 fully assembled units of the Apple I from them for $500 each. Eventually about 200 Apple I computers were produced in total.
Arthur Rock, which after looking at the crowded Apple booth at the Home Brew Computer Show, started with a $60,000 investment and went on the Apple board.
In April 1977, Jobs and Wozniak introduced the Apple II at the West Coast Computer Faire. It is the first consumer product to have been sold by Apple Computer. Primarily designed by Wozniak. The Apple II became one of the first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer products in the world.
As Jobs became more successful with his new company, his relationship with Brennan grew more complex and deteriorating. A few days after Brennan realized she was pregnant with Jobs's child, she told Jobs whose face, according to her "turned ugly" at the news. A few weeks before she was due to give birth, Brennan was invited to deliver her baby at the All One Farm. When Jobs was 23 (the same age as his biological parents when they had him) Brennan gave birth to her baby, Lisa Brennan, on May 17, 1978. Jobs went there for the birth after he was contacted by Robert Friedland, their mutual friend and the farm owner. While distant, Jobs worked with her on a name for the baby, which they discussed while sitting in the fields on a blanket. Brennan suggested the name "Lisa" which Jobs also liked. She also stated that she never gave him permission to use the baby's name for a computer and he hid the plans from her. Jobs also worked with his team to come up with the phrase, "Local Integrated Software Architecture" as an alternative explanation for the Apple Lisa. Decades later, however, Jobs admitted to his biographer Walter Isaacson that "obviously, it was named for my daughter".
When Jobs denied paternity, a DNA test established him as Lisa's father. It required him to give Brennan $385 a month in addition to returning the welfare money she had received. Jobs gave her $500 a month at the time when Apple went public and Jobs became a millionaire.
Jobs was worth over $1 million in 1978, when he was just 23 years old. His net worth grew to over $250 million by the time he was 25, according to estimates. He was also one of the youngest "people ever to make the Forbes list of the nation's richest people—and one of only a handful to have done it themselves, without inherited wealth".
Jobs began directing the development of the Macintosh in 1981.
In 1982, Jobs bought an apartment on the top two floors of The San Remo, a Manhattan building with a politically progressive reputation. Although he never lived there, he spent years renovating it with the help of I. M. Pei. In 2003, he sold it to U2 singer Bono.
In 1983, Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple's CEO, asking, "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?"
On January 24, 1984, an emotional Jobs introduced the Macintosh to a wildly enthusiastic audience at Apple's annual shareholders meeting held in the Flint Auditorium. The Macintosh was based on The Lisa.
That same year, Jobs bought the Jackling House and estate, and resided there for a decade. After that, he leased it out for several years until 2000 when he stopped maintaining the house, allowing exposure to the weather to degrade it. In 2004, Jobs received permission from the town of Woodside to demolish the house in order to build a smaller contemporary styled one. After a few years in court, the house was finally demolished in 2011, a few months before he died.
John Sculley's and Jobs's respective visions for the company greatly differed. The former favored open architecture computers like the Apple II, sold to education, small business, and home markets less vulnerable to IBM. Jobs wanted the company to focus on the closed architecture Macintosh as a business alternative to the IBM PC.
By early 1985, the Macintosh's failure to defeat the IBM PC became clear, and it strengthened Sculley's position in the company. In May 1985, Sculley—encouraged by Arthur Rock—decided to reorganize Apple, and proposed a plan to the board that would remove Jobs from the Macintosh group and put him in charge of "New Product Development". On September 17, 1985, Jobs submitted a letter of resignation to the Apple Board. Five additional senior Apple employees also resigned and joined Jobs in his new venture, NeXT.
Following his resignation from Apple in 1985, Jobs founded NeXT Inc. with $7 million. A year later he was running out of money, and he sought venture capital with no product on the horizon. Eventually, Jobs attracted the attention of billionaire Ross Perot, who invested heavily in the company.
In 1986, Jobs funded the spinout of The Graphics Group (later renamed Pixar) from Lucasfilm's computer graphics division for the price of $10 million, $5 million of which was given to the company as capital and $5 million of which was paid to Lucasfilm for technology rights.
In 1989, Jobs first met his future wife, Laurene Powell, when he gave a lecture at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she was a student. Soon after the event, he stated that Laurene "was right there in the front row in the lecture hall, and I couldn't take my eyes off of her ... kept losing my train of thought, and started feeling a little giddy." After the lecture, Jobs met up with her in the parking lot and invited her out to dinner. From that point forward, they were together, with a few minor exceptions, for the rest of his life.
Jobs proposed on New Year's Day 1990 and the couple married on March 18, 1991, in a Buddhist ceremony at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. Fifty people, including Jobs's father, Paul, and his sister Mona, attended. The ceremony was conducted by Jobs's guru, Kobun Chino Otogawa. The vegan wedding cake was in the shape of Yosemite's Half Dome.
NeXT workstations were first released in 1990 and priced at US$9,999. Like the Apple Lisa, the NeXT workstation was technologically advanced and designed for the education sector, but was largely dismissed as cost-prohibitive for educational institutions. Making use of a NeXT computer, English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1990 at CERN in Switzerland.
Jobs ran NeXT with an obsession for aesthetic perfection, as evidenced by the development of and attention to NeXTcube's magnesium case.
Steve Job and Laurene Job's first child, Reed, was born in September 1991, and the couple had two more children, Erin, born in August 1995, and Eve, born in May 1998.
In 1995, Pixar produced its first film with its Disney partnership, Toy Story (1995), which brought financial success and critical acclaim to the studio when it was released. Over the course of Jobs's life, under Pixar's creative chief John Lasseter, the company produced many more box-office hits such as A Bug's Life (1998); Toy Story 2 (1999); Monsters, Inc. (2001); Toy Story 3 (2010) which received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, an award introduced in 2001.
In January 2004, Jobs and Disney ended their partnership and he announced that he would never deal with Disney again.
On January 24, 2006, Steve Jobs and Disney's new CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney had agreed to purchase Pixar in an all-stock transaction worth $7.4 billion. Upon completion of the merger, Jobs received 7% of Disney shares becoming The Walt Disney Company's largest single shareholder and joined the board of directors as the largest individual shareholder. Upon Jobs's death his shares in Disney were transferred to the Steven P. Jobs Trust led by Laurene Jobs.
In 1996, Apple announced that it would buy NeXT for $427 million. The deal was finalized in February 1997, bringing Jobs back to the company he had cofounded. He was formally named interim chief executive on September 16.
With the purchase of NeXT, much of the company's technology found its way into Apple products, most notably NeXTSTEP, which evolved into Mac OS X. Under Jobs's guidance, the company increased sales significantly with the introduction of the iMac and other new products; since then, appealing designs and powerful branding have worked well for Apple. At the 2000 Macworld Expo, Jobs officially dropped the "interim" modifier from his title at Apple and became permanent CEO.
The company subsequently branched out, introducing and improving upon other digital appliances. With the introduction of the iPod portable music player, iTunes digital music software, and the iTunes Store, the company made forays into consumer electronics and music distribution. On June 29, 2007, Apple entered the cellular phone business with the introduction of the iPhone, a multi-touch display cell phone, which also included the features of an iPod and, with its own mobile browser, revolutionized the mobile browsing scene.
Jobs usually went to work wearing a black long-sleeved mock turtleneck made by Issey Miyake, Levi's 501 blue jeans, and New Balance 991 sneakers. He said his choice was inspired by that of Stuart Geman, a noted applied mathematics professor at Brown University. Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson "...he came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, both because of its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey a signature style."
The success of Apple's unique products and services provided several years of stable financial returns, propelling Apple to become the world's most valuable publicly traded company in 2011.
Jobs was perceived as a demanding perfectionist who always aspired to position his businesses and their products at the forefront of the information technology industry by foreseeing and setting innovation and style trends.
In October 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with cancer. In mid 2004, he announced to his employees that he had a cancerous tumor in his pancreas, a rare, much less aggressive type, known as islet cell neuroendocrine tumor.
Despite his diagnosis, Jobs resisted his doctors' recommendations for medical intervention for nine months, instead relying on alternative medicine to thwart the disease.
He eventually underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy in July 2004, that appeared to remove the tumor successfully. Jobs did not receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
As of January 2006, only Jobs's wife, his doctors, and Iger and his wife knew that his cancer had returned.
In 2009, Tim Cook, who previously acted as CEO in Jobs's 2004 absence, became acting CEO of Apple. Tim Cook offered a portion of his liver to Jobs, since both share a rare blood type and the donor liver can regenerate tissue after such an operation. Jobs yelled, "I'll never let you do that. I'll never do that."
In April 2009, Jobs underwent a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis, Tennessee, with "excellent" prognosis.
On August 24, 2011, Jobs announced his resignation as Apple's CEO. Jobs became chairman of the board and named Tim Cook as his successor as CEO. Jobs continued to work for Apple until the day before his death six weeks later.
Jobs died at his Palo Alto, California home around 3 p.m. (PDT) on October 5, 2011, due to complications from a relapse of his previously treated islet-cell pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, which resulted in respiratory arrest. He had lost consciousness the day before and died with his wife, children, and sisters at his side. Steve's final words were: 'Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.'" He then lost consciousness and died several hours later. A small private funeral was held on October 7, 2011, the details of which, out of respect for Jobs's family, were not made public.
Apple and Microsoft both flew their flags at half-staff throughout their respective headquarters and campuses.
Bob Iger ordered all Disney properties, including Walt Disney World and Disneyland, to fly their flags at half-staff from October 6 to 12, 2011. For two weeks following his death, Apple displayed on its corporate Web site a simple page that showed Jobs's name and lifespan next to his grayscale portrait.
California Governor Jerry Brown declared Sunday, October 16, 2011, to be "Steve Jobs Day". On that day, an invitation-only memorial was held at Stanford University. Each attendee was given a small brown box as a "farewell gift" from Jobs. The box contained a copy of the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.
On October 19, 2011, Apple employees held a private memorial service for Jobs on the Apple campus in Cupertino.
Per his request, Jobs is buried in an unmarked grave at Alta Mesa Memorial Park, the only nonsectarian cemetery in Palo Alto.
Jacques Doucet (19 February 1853–30 October 1929) was a French fashion designer and art collector. He is known for his elegant dresses, made with flimsy translucent materials in superimposing pastel colors.
Jacques Doucet, né le 19 février 1853 à Paris et mort le 30 octobre 1929 à Neuilly-sur-Seine, est un grand couturier, collectionneur et mécène français, personnalité de la vie artistique et littéraire parisienne des années 1880-1920.
Jacques Doucet was born in Paris in 1853 to a prosperous family whose lingerie and linens business, Doucet Lingerie, had flourished in the Rue de la Paix since 1816. In 1871, Doucet opened a salon selling ladies' apparel. An enthusiastic collector of eighteenth-century furniture, objets d'art, paintings, and sculptures, many of his gowns were strongly influenced by this opulent era.
Beginning in 1912, the fashions of Jacques Doucet were illustrated in the fashion magazine La Gazette du Bon Ton with six other leading Paris designers of the day – Louise Chéruit, Georges Doeuillet, Jeanne Paquin, Paul Poiret, Redfern & Sons, and the House of Charles Worth. His most original designs were those he created for actresses of the time. Cécile Sorel, Rejane and Sarah Bernhardt (for whom he designed her famous white costume in L'Aiglon) all often wore his outfits, both on and off the stage. For the aforementioned actresses he reserved a particular style, one which consisted of frills, sinuous curving lines and lace ruffles the colors of faded flowers. Doucet was a designer of taste and discrimination who valued dignity and luxury above novelty and practicality, and gradually faded from popularity during the 1920s.
A collector of art and literature throughout his life, by the time of his death he had a collection of Post-Impressionist and Cubist paintings, including Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which he bought direct from Picasso's studio, as well as two libraries' both of which he left to the French nation. Doucet donated his collection of art books and research to the University of Paris in 1917, transferred to the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art in 2003 and, at his death in 1929, his collection of manuscripts by contemporary writers for which the University created in his honour the Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques-Doucet. Francois Chapon wrote a book titled C'etait Jacques Doucet about the life and work of the fashion designer.
Jacques Doucet owned a hôtel particulier, rue Saint-James, Neuilly-sur-Seine.which was designed by the architect Paul Ruaud. Several years after World War I, in 1927, Cubists Joseph Csaky, Jacques Lipchitz, Louis Marcoussis, Henri Laurens, the sculptor Gustave Miklos, and others collaborated in the decoration. Laurens designed the fountain, Csaky designed Doucet's staircase, Lipchitz made the fireplace mantel and Marcoussis created a Cubist rug.
Propriétaire d’un magasin hérité de sa mère, rue de la Paix, Jacques Doucet fonde à Paris une des premières maisons de haute couture. Sa riche clientèle d’actrices et de femmes du monde — Réjane, Sarah Bernhardt, Liane de Pougy, la Belle Otéro — lui assure une fortune et lui permet de satisfaire ses passions d’amateur d’art et de bibliophile. Il forma Paul Poiret (1898-1901) et eut Madeleine Vionnet parmi ses assistantes.
En 1925, le financier Georges Aubert prend le contrôle de la maison Doucet et provoque un rapprochement avec la maison de Georges Dœuillet. Après la crise de 1929, la nouvelle société Dœuillet-Doucet perdure jusqu'en 1937.
Enrichi par son activité de couturier, Jacques Doucet pose les premières pierres d'une importante collection d'objets d'art consacrée au xviiie siècle. Il rassemble des tableaux, dessins, sculptures, œuvres d'ébénisterie et de marqueterie, des estampes et des livres. Sa collection, qui réunit des pièces de provenance prestigieuse, est ouverte aux amateurs et chercheurs qui en font la demande. Parmi les pièces remarquables, on compte les Bulles de Savon de Chardin.
En 1912, il vend une grande partie de cette première collection, à la suite de la mort tragique de la femme qu'il aimait en secret et à laquelle il destinait cet ensemble1. La vente publique, qui fait événement, engendre 13 884 460 francs d’adjudications, ce qui en fait la vente la plus chère de son temps. Outre les prix atteints, cette vente est remarquable en ce qu'elle donne lieu à un catalogue de vente particulièrement documenté, illustré et investi d'une dimension scientifique : il a été rédigé par des spécialistes, historiens de l'art et conservateurs de musée2.
Une partie importante de la collection d'art du couturier est présentée en permanence au Musée Angladon-Collection Jacques Doucet à Avignon, créé par les héritiers de Doucet.
En 1912, il vend une grande partie de cette première collection, à la suite de la mort tragique de la femme qu'il aimait en secret et à laquelle il destinait cet ensemble. La vente publique, qui fait événement, engendre 13 884 460 francs d’adjudications, ce qui en fait la vente la plus chère de son temps. Outre les prix atteints, cette vente est remarquable en ce qu'elle donne lieu à un catalogue de vente particulièrement documenté, illustré et investi d'une dimension scientifique : il a été rédigé par des spécialistes, historiens de l'art et conservateurs de musée.
Une partie importante de la collection d'art du couturier est présentée en permanence au Musée Angladon-Collection Jacques Doucet à Avignon, créé par les héritiers de Doucet.
Conseillé par Henri-Pierre Roché ou André Breton, Jacques Doucet constitue un nouvel ensemble composé de pièces modernes ou contemporaines, Manet, Constantin Brancusi Cézanne, Degas, Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marie Laurencin, Joan Miro, Francis Picabia et des pièces Art déco de Marcel Coard, Joseph Csaky, Jean Dunand, Eileen Gray, Pierre Legrain, etc. En 1924, il est le premier propriétaire des Demoiselles d'Avignon de Picasso : achetées sans avoir été déroulées parce qu'elles traînaient dans un coin de l'atelier du peintre, elles seront estimées quelques mois plus tard entre deux et trois cent mille francs.
C'est la vente en 1972 de la collection Doucet qui re-popularise l'Art déco auprès du grand public, avec des oeuvres de Pierre Legrain, Rose Adler, Eileen Gray, Clément Rousseau ou encore Marcel Coard.
Ami d'André Suarès, il collectionne ses manuscrits, s’intéresse à ceux de la génération précédente — Stendhal, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud — et de la génération contemporaine : Apollinaire, Gide, Cocteau, Mauriac, Montherlant, Maurois, Morand, Valéry, Proust, Giraudoux. Il fait recouvrir ces manuscrits de reliures modernes avant de donner cette bibliothèque littéraire à l’Université de Paris en 1929 : elle deviendra la Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet. Jacques Doucet a également eu un rôle de mécène auprès de nombreux écrivains tels que André Suarès, Max Jacob, Reverdy, André Breton, Louis Aragon, Robert Desnos.