Movie stars build their roles into brands--and the Taylor brand is startlingly feminist. In her breakout film, "National Velvet" (1944), Taylor challenged gender discrimination, playing a jockey who had to pose as a male to race. Her next landmark, "A Place in the Sun" (1951), tackles abortion rights. In "Butterfield 8" (1960), she is censured not because she's a prostitute, but because she controls her own sexuality. And the classic "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966) depicts the anguish that befalls a woman when the only way she can express herself is through her husband's career and children. Taylor's personal life, too, is remarkable: financially autonomous, she supported her parents as a teenager. As an adult, she supported the right of people to love whomever they love--regardless of gender. Her legendary friendships with her gay male costars inspired her to become a major fundraiser for AIDS research in the 1980s, before the cause became fashionable. Drawing upon unpublished letters and scripts, as well as interviews with Gore Vidal, Robert Forster, Austin Pendleton, Kevin McCarthy and others, this is a long overdue reappraisal.--From publisher description.