Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor's eyes were famous for being stunningly beautiful and distinct. Widely known for having the most striking eyes in Hollywood, Taylor had what appeared to be rare, natural purple irises. But they also sometimes looked bright blue — and over the years, their glowing hue led fans to ask questions such as, "Are Elizabeth Taylor's eyes violet?" or "Does she have lavender eyes?"
We did a little digging to answer these questions and here's what we found: Her eye color was actually natural — for the most part. Colored contacts weren’t commercially available until 1983, so Taylor wasn't faking it. However, she was born with a very specific and rare amount of the pigment melanin. The appearance of the iris, or the colored ring around a person’s eye, is determined by how much melanin it contains. For example, people with dark brown eyes have irises that contain much more melanin than do green-eyed folk
"There are various shades of blues and grays, with many in-between," Norman Saffra, chairman of the ophthalmology department at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, explained to Live Science. "Violet may have been her typical pigmentation."
The variation of Taylor’s eye color has a few explanations. Eye color can change based on the amount of light they're absorbing — and this can also be altered by the clothes we wear. For example, a white shirt will reflect light onto your irises, making your eyes appear slightly lighter. Fair-colored eyes do reflect more light, so they are more affected by this change. Taylor, with her stunningly light peepers, was a master of this art, often donning bright, colorful garments in deep red, emerald, and canary yellow to complement her vibrant eyes.
Of course, makeup was probably also a key factor behind Taylor’s oscillating eye color. The actress was often spotted wearing blue or purple eye shadow to flatter her violet eyes, or donning a deep brown shadow and eyeliner as a contrast to make them pop. But lighting and beauty strategies aside, the legendary actress was definitely naturally gorgeous!
Click through to discover more seriously striking, rare photos of Elizabeth Taylor's eyes at their most dazzling.