Legendary Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor was a vocal AIDS and gay rights advocate.

Taylor was laid to rest at a private service on Thursday after her death at the age of 79 in a Los Angeles hospital.

While she was best known for her larger-than-life movie roles, she devoted nearly 30 years of her life raising awareness and funds for AIDS research.

Taylor became a leading advocate for AIDS research after the 1985 death of actor Rock Hudson from AIDS complications. She helped create amfAR, one of the world's leading non-profits dedicated to ending the disease.

“I did not become an activist to win awards,” she said in accepting a GLAAD award in 2000. “I became an activist to try to protect people. I could not sit silently by just doing nothing. I started my activism in the 80s when a new disease emerged that was quickly and inexplicably killing people.”

“Worse than the virus there was the terrible discrimination and prejudice left in its wake. Suddenly gay people stopped being human beings and started becoming the enemy. I knew that somebody had to do something.”

“All my life I've spent a lot of time with gay men – Montgomery Clift, Jimmy Dean, Rock Hudson,” she added. “I never thought about who they slept with. They were just the people I loved.”

“I could never understand why they couldn't be afforded the same rights and protections as all of the rest of us. There is no gay agenda. It's a human agenda.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

Taylor was an activist till the end, leaving the bulk of her estate – worth at least $600 million – to two AIDS charities, amfAR and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.