How Liz Taylor Cheated Death 53 Years Ago, Almost to the Day

03/23/2011 at 11:00 AM EDT

How Liz Taylor Cheated Death 53 Years Ago, Almost to the Day
Mike Todd and Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor's death on Wednesday came 53 years and 1 day after she could have perished in a plane crash – were it not for a cold that kept her from flying that day.

On March 22, 1958, Taylor, then just 26, was scheduled to join her third husband, the movie producer Mike Todd, on his private plane the Lucky Liz for a trip from Burbank, Calif., to New York (via Tulsa, Okla.) – but he convinced her not to come, against her protestations, because she was feeling ill.

Todd's plane ended up crashing near Grants, N.M., killing him and all three others on board.

Taylor died at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, just hours after the 53rd anniversary of the crash.

Todd's death devastated Taylor and drove her infamously into the arms of Eddie Fisher, a friend of Todd's who was still married at the time to Debbie Reynolds. Late in life, Taylor said that Todd and Richard Burton were the two soulmates she had had.

"I loved them both passionately," she told Larry King in 2006.

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