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Unpublished photos of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift emerge

Unpublished photos of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift emerge

Movie icons Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift played lovers in the classic 1951 film A Place in the Sun.

But off-screen, the relationship was anything but romantic since Clift was gay – a fact that Taylor was aware of from early on.

Instead, the uncommonly handsome Clift and the world's most beautiful woman forged a deep friendship that lasted longer than any of Taylor's eight marriages.

They had an intense adoration for each other and went on to star in two other film classics: Raintree County and Suddenly Last Summer.

Life, the now-defunct magazine, has published online a series of never-before-seen photographs taken in 1950 of Taylor and Clift that shows them as young and passionate artists at the peak of their physical beauty.

Life writes: Their unique bond — so evident in the unpublished Peter Stackpole pictures in this gallery, taken on the Paramount lot during filming of A Place in the Sun in January 1950 — was occasionally deepened even further by myriad personal disasters visited upon each of them through the years. For example, in 1956 Taylor probably saved Clift’s life when, after he crashed his car leaving a party at her home, she raced to the wreck and literally pulled broken teeth — on which he had begun to choke — from his shattered mouth.

The accident disfigured Clift and he had to undergo operations to try and restore his looks. It began a slide that included prescription drug and alcohol abuse and erratic behavior that continued until his early death in 1966 at the age of 45.

Taylor was close to two other closeted male stars from the era: Rock Hudson and James Dean, her two leading men from the 1956 film Giant. She would later express her frustration and sadness that they were never able to live their lives openly.

Taylor, who died last year at the age of 79, was beloved by the gay community for her beauty and her movies but mostly for the 25 years she spent as an AIDS activist.

She testified on Capitol Hill, presided over numerous fundraisers, gave endless interviews about the disease, co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR) as well as the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation which was dedicated to patient care.