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Elizabeth Taylor’s drug-addled lifestyle was so slovenly, she caught Malta fever from her dogs: book

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When Elizabeth Taylor was the biggest movie star in the world, she was also one of the most messed-up.

Things were so bad that she lived in filth and even got sick from it, according to a new book.

In 1958, Taylor was cast in 20th Century Fox’s “Cleopatra” — becoming the first movie star to be paid $1 million for a role.

Filming in England was immediately beset by problems, including Taylor’s seemingly non-stop health issues.

In October 1960, things got so extreme that her husband, crooner Eddie Fisher, was paid $150,000 by the studio to get Taylor to the set, watch her diet and walk her retinue of dogs.

Fisher has said that Taylor was “popping pills and drinking most of the day,” according to the new book “Erotic Vagrancy” by Roger Lewis.

Meanwhile, Fisher himself was reportedly addicted to methamphetamine.

When writer Truman Capote visited, he found Taylor’s rooms “crowded with shedding cats and unhousebroken dogs and a general atmosphere of disorderly paraphernalia.”

Elizabeth Taylor, seen here with husband Richard Burton, was a mess — in various ways. Sygma via Getty Images
Elizabeth Taylor allegedly caught Malta fever from “slobbering” over her “innumerable and terrible pets, which shared her bed,” according to writer Roger Lewis. Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Taylor, seen here with husband Richard Burton, was said to keep rooms “crowded with shedding cats and unhousebroken dogs and a general atmosphere of disorderly paraphernalia.” Getty Images

The slovenly atmosphere seemingly affected Taylor’s health, Lewis writes, as the actress was taken to the London Clinic, placed in an iron lung, and diagnosed with “Malta fever” or “brucellosis, which is caused by the ingestion of animal secretions — unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat.”

Taylor possibly contracted the unusual ailment from “slobbering” over her “innumerable and terrible pets, which shared her bed,” Lewis writes.

The actress was released, only to return to the clinic the next month with severe migraines.

Filming was halted — but Taylor’s health woes only worsened.

Filming on “Cleopatra” was delayed, in part, due to Taylor’s unending health issues. Getty Images
Taylor’s husband at the time, Eddie Fisher, was paid by the movie studio to make sure the troubled star got to the “Cleopatra” set. Getty Images

In March 1961, she came down with a severe case of pneumonia that left her comatose.

News outlets erroneously reported that the “National Velvet” actress had died.

By the end of the month, she was released and demolition of the “Cleopatra” sets began.

All the existing footage was chucked.

Production was moved to Rome and a new director, Joseph Mankiewicz, came on board.

Burton and Taylor began an affair on the set of “Cleopatra,” while both married to other people. Getty Images

Seven million dollars had been wasted.

When “Cleopatra” filming resumed, Welsh actor Richard Burton joined the cast opposite Taylor.

The book describes a mink-clad Taylor arriving on set with Fisher, “two secretaries, two maids, make-up people and hairdressers.”

Burton later wrote in his diary that her “breasts [were] jutting out from that half-asleep languid lingering body.”

Fisher (center) held a press conference denying that Taylor and Burton were having an affair. Bettmann Archive

The two began a torrid affair behind the backs of Fisher and Burton’s wife Sybil, who brushed it off: “He’s had these affairs before,” she told Fisher of Burton, “and he always comes home to me.”

As the lovers/co-stars became more flagrant, even the Vatican weighed in on their affair — labeling it “erotic vagrancy.”

But Taylor, Lewis writes, was afraid that Burton would break it off with her that she once attempted suicide by “trying to break through a glass door and had to be restrained.”

When Burton did try to end things — saying, “It was fun, while it lasted” — Taylor took an overdose of Seconal and had to have her stomach pumped.

The two eventually left their spouses and married in 1964, but their fights were legendary.

Among Burton’s put-downs for the actress: “Mss T-ts” and “that fat little tart.”

Burton was apparently not a positive influence on Taylor’s housekeeping habits. Lewis writes: “… the clean up from the animal excrement from the carpets, curtains, mirrors, and furniture at [the couple’s room at] the Four Seasons Hotel, New York, took days.” Getty Images

Taylor called Burton “a boozed-up, burned-out Welshman!”

He often mocked Taylor over her lack of formal education and not knowing Shakespeare.

Her reply was cool: “I don’t know anything about the theatre, but I don’t need to. I’m a star.”

Meanwhile, Taylor’s housekeeping habits apparently didn’t change during the marriage.

Burton and Taylor’s rocky road to marriage included at least one suicide attempt. Getty Images

Lewis writes how, “in their wake was the pillage of an invading army — dog shit and dinner trays at the Plaza, New York, the usual mess of dog shit and empty bottles at the Grand Hotel, Rome.

The clean up from the animal excrement from the carpets, curtains, mirrors, and furniture at the Four Seasons Hotel, New York, took days.”

Burton and Taylor were married for nearly 10 years, divorcing in 1974, before remarrying in 1975 and splitting up again a year later.

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