The following year she appeared in Lassie Come Home and in 1944 her role in National Velvet turned her into a child star.
The film, about a young girl who rides her horse to victory in the Grand National, was a huge hit.
Taylor went on to give memorable performances as Amy in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1949) and Spencer Tracy’s daughter in Father of the Bride (1950).
A Place in the Sun (1951) marked her transition to adult roles.
In the film, which co-starred Montgomery Clift, she displayed the smouldering sex appeal which made her a screen legend.
She went on to become one of the all-time Hollywood greats and a double Oscar winner for Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Her leading men included James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Spencer Tracy, Paul Newman and, of course, her husband Richard Burton.
After appearing opposite James Dean in Giant (1956) she was reunited with Clift in Raintree County (1957) — a film which earned her first Oscar nomination.
There followed one of her iconic roles in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Paul Newman in 1958.
Oscar nomination number two came in 1959 for Suddenly, Last Summer, again a vehicle for her and Clift.
In 1960 she finally won the best actress Oscar for her performance as a call-girl in Butterfield 8.
And in 1963 she starred in the lavish historical epic Cleopatra.
It was on the set that she met and fell in love with Richard Burton, who had been cast as Marc Antony.
They went on to appear in a string of films together. Many were flops, among them The Sandpiper (1965) and Boom (1968).
But the 1966 classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was their greatest triumph and gave Taylor a second Best Actress Oscar for her vicious turn as embittered wife Martha.
The 1960s were the pinnacle of Taylor’s career.
While her glamorous private life kept her in the news, the decent acting roles dried up.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s her career was confined to minor parts on TV, which became increasingly rare as ill health took its toll.
In 1994 she returned with a cameo role in the big screen version of The Flintstones as Fred’s mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople.
Her last film performance was in the 2001 TV movie These Old Broads with Shirley Maclaine, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins.