Elizabeth Taylor was notorious for many things – marriage-hopping, garishness, those eyes, her numerous brushes with death. But at one point, the woman who famously played the Queen of the Nile was actually barred from entering Egypt because of her conversion to Judaism and her support for Zionist causes.
According to a July 20, 1962 article in the JTA, the film Cleopatra ran into a major roadblock after the actress was banned from the country “in accordance with the Arab League’s ban on all persons aiding Israel.”
“[T]he multimillion dollar film, “Cleopatra,” practically completed in Rome except for Egyptian location shots, may have to be finished in some other country,” the JTA reported at the time.
Taylor’s movies were also prohibited from playing in Arab countries, after the actress purchased $100,000 in Israeli bonds in 1959. (Egypt subsequently removed Taylor from its blacklist shortly after Cleopatra was released, because it decided the film was “good publicity” for the country).
The JTA, which unearthed numerous Taylor articles from its archives yesterday, has more information about the actress’s activism on its website.
The Zionist Organization of America also issued a statement of mourning today for Taylor, according to Arutz Sheva. The ZOA noted that the actress “had been converted to Judaism in 1959 by a former ZOA President, Reform Rabbi Max Nussbaum.”