Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth Taylor

Friends and colleagues remembered Elizabeth Taylor not only as a Hollywood icon and screen legend, but for her revered generosity.

"Elizabeth, on every level, was a mensch. Kind, generous, brave," Taylor's Blue Bird co-star Jane Fonda said.

Elizabeth Taylor dies at 79

Taylor, who won Best Actress Oscars for 1960's BUtterfield 8 and 1966's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

, died at 79 Wednesday of congestive heart failure."The shock of Elizabeth was not only her beauty," Mike Nichols, who directed Taylor in Woolf, said. "It was her generosity. Her giant laugh. Her vitality, whether tackling a complex scene on film or where we would all have dinner until dawn. She is singular and indelible on film and in our hearts."

Shirley MacLaine, who co-starred with Taylor in the 2001 TV movie These Old Broads — Taylor's last film — said the actress' "talent for friendship was unmatched."

Check out photos of Elizabeth Taylor

"I don't know what was more impressive her magnitude as a star or her magnitude as a friend," MacLaine said. "I will miss her for the rest of my life and beyond."

Eva Marie Saint said she has "wonderful memories" of working with Taylor in 1957's Raintree County and 1965's The Sandpiper.

"I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Elizabeth Taylor," Saint said. "She was an incredible talent, and yes, she had those unforgettable eyes. I greatly admire her humanitarian efforts which have touched so many lives. Elizabeth was a very dear, generous and loving lady."

Taylor's legacy in film is perhaps only surpassed by her activism. The actress formed an AIDS research project following the death of her friend Rock Hudson in the 1980s. She later joined forces with Dr. Mathilde Krim to create The American Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR). In 1991, she created her own foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF).

"Dame Elizabeth was without doubt one of the most inspirational figures in the fight against AIDS. She was among the first to speak out on behalf of people living with HIV when others reacted with fear and often outright hostility," amfAR said in a statement. "For 25 years, Dame Elizabeth has been a passionate advocate of AIDS research, treatment and care. She has testified eloquently on Capitol Hill, while raising millions of dollars for amfAR. Dame Elizabeth's compassion, radiance, and generosity of spirit will be greatly missed by us all. She leaves a monumental legacy that has improved and extended millions of lives and will enrich countless more for generations to come."

See Elizabeth Taylor's most memorable roles

Larry King and George Michael were among the stars who paid tribute to Taylor's AIDS advocacy.

"Elizabeth Taylor was a great friend, a great star and one gutsy woman," King tweeted. "She was so special.You won't see the likes of her again ... She was first major celeb in the AIDS battle and she made it her cause ..."

"Such a sad day, Elizabeth Taylor was the last of the Hollywood greats, and a fantastically charming woman," Michael tweeted. "She also did a great deal in the last 25 years to help the world deal with the HIV epidemic. I am proud to have known her if only a little. She was also the only person I've ever met that had violet eyes. They were genuinely violet. So beautiful."

Peruse our photo gallery of Elizabeth Taylor and her husbands

Elizabeth Arden Inc., which develops Taylor's fragrances, including the best-selling White Diamonds, also remembered Taylor's "extraordinary compassion, creativity and business acumen."  "Our best tribute to Elizabeth Taylor will be to continue the legacy of the brands she created and loved so much," the company said in a statement. "Her sense of humor, passion for life, never-ending dedication and generosity of spirit will be remembered by all of us. She will be deeply missed."

Kim Kardashian, with whom Taylor conducted her final interview in February's Harper's Bazaar, tweeted that she was saddened by Taylor's death.

"She will always be my idol!" Kardashian tweeted.

Other reactions:

Martin Landau (Taylor's Cleopatra co-star) said: "It's a terrible loss. A unique talent and a singularly spectacular individual."

Simpsons executive producer Al Jean (Taylor appeared twice on the show — once as herself and once as the voice of Maggie) said: "The Simpsons were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of their legendary friend Elizabeth Taylor. In particular, Maggie is speechless."

Debbie Reynolds (whose husband Eddie Fisher left her for Taylor) said: "It was a long productive career, and she was the most glamorous and sexual star of our generation. No one else could equal Elizabeth's beauty and sexuality. Women liked her and men adored her, and her love for her children is enduring. She was a symbol of stardom. Her legacy will last."

Barbra Streisand said: "It's the end of an era. It wasn't just her beauty or her stardom. It was her humanitarianism. She put a face on HIV/AIDS.  She was funny.  She was generous. She made her life count."

Elton John said: "We have just lost a Hollywood giant. More importantly, we have lost an incredible human being."

Whoopi Goldberg said: "Today my friend Elizabeth Taylor passed away. Oddly, we all knew this day was coming but still her passing took my breath away. She was a funny, loud, joke-tellin', diamond-loving, fantastic woman. She played a big role in shaping my life as Whoopi Goldberg. It really is the end of an era."

Steve Martin tweeted: "I met Elizabeth Taylor several times. She was witty and self-deprecating, which I found surprising and delightful. She loved to laugh."

Kirstie Alley tweeted: "Elizabeth ... thank u for the lessons u taught me about life..suffering and Joy. ... you are the BRIGHTEST STAR in the universe...Eternal love."

Marlee Matlin tweeted: "So VERY shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Dame Elizabeth Taylor.A true Hollywood legend and humanitarian and friend. RIP."

Kate Walsh tweeted: "Elizabeth Taylor, rest in peace. What an extraordinary woman. JUST talking about 'furious love' yesterday. Xxxxxx"

Joy Behar tweeted: "Elizabeth Taylor was truly one of the greats. She'll certainly be missed."

Joan Rivers tweeted: "Sad to hear of Elizabeth Taylor's death. She was the 1st major celebrity to join me in the fight against AIDS when it wasn't a popular cause."

Piers Morgan tweeted: "One of the great movie stars of all time, on and off screen. Surely the greatest screen beauty of them all?"

Kylie Minogue tweeted: "RIP Dame Elizabeth Taylor. ... Like a pure white diamond you'll shine on and on and on."

Stephen Fry tweeted: "RIP Dame Elizabeth Taylor, surely the last of a breed ..."