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Elizabeth Taylor Says Late Husband Told Her to "Go Back" During Vivid Near-Death Experience

The actor told the incredible story during an Oprah interview in 1992.

Given the dramatic life of Elizabeth Taylor, perhaps it's no surprise that she claimed she had dramatic experience in the afterlife, as well. The late star, who claimed that she was pronounced dead four times during her life, recounted one near-death experience during a 1992 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The legendary actor said that while she was in the hospital, she visited the afterlife, where she communicated with her late husband Mike Todd. Taylor said that Todd told her to "go back," even though she felt compelled to stay with him.

Read on to see what else Taylor revealed about her experience, including what it looked and felt like, and why she initially decided not to share the story.

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Taylor was in a coma in 1961.

Elizabeth Taylor in a car in London in 1960
Central Press/Getty Images

In 1961, Taylor fell into a coma while suffering from double pneumonia. She was diagnosed after having what she said doctors called an "Asian flu" in a 1998 interview with Vanity Fair. She had to have an emergency tracheotomy, which saved her life.

It was during this hospitalization that Taylor was pronounced dead. She joked in the same Vanity Fair interview, "I had the chance to read my own obituaries. They were the best reviews I'd ever gotten."

She said she saw the afterlife.

During her 1992 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Taylor described what she saw during the time she was thought to be dead. She said that at first, she could see the doctors working around her but could not communicate with them or move.

"And then I went into this—I sort of floated into this tunnel," Taylor explained. "And there were other figures that I recognized. And this welcoming, like, sun, white sun, and warmth, and like being in liquid mercury. It was like being weightless."

She said her late husband communicated with her.

Mike Todd and Elizabeth Taylor at the 1957 Golden Globe Awards
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Taylor married Todd, her third husband, in 1957, and they welcomed a daughter, Liza, together. The producer died the following year in a plane crash. At the time of her near-death experience, Taylor was two years into her marriage to actor and singer Eddie Fisher.

Taylor continued of her experience, "Mike Todd was there. And I wanted to be with him more than anything in the world. He'd been dead about three years, and I was still mourning."

She went on to say that Todd told her to return to her life. "He said, 'No, baby, you can't. It's not your time. You can't come over. You have to fight to go back. You have to fight to go back.' And I was like, 'But I want to be with you,'" Taylor recalled. "And he said, 'You can't now. I'll be here. You have to fight to go back.'"

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She didn't want anyone to think she was "crazy."

Elizabeth Taylor on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 1992
OWN / YouTube

On Oprah, Taylor, who passed in 2011 at age 79, said that when she woke up, she told the doctors at the hospital about her experience. "Because I felt like I had to tell somebody, so I wouldn't later on think I was crazy," the actor explained.

But, she added, "And then I thought, that does sound so crazy, I don't think I'm going to tell anybody else. And for years I didn't say anything."

She decided to share the experience again after hearing about similar accounts from other people who came close to death. "There's got to be something to it," she said. "There's just too many people who've gone through it."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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