Just after actress Elizabeth Taylor was born, her parents were ushered into the doctor’s office and told that their newborn daughter had a mutation.
”Well, that sounded just awful,” her mother Sara Taylor said later,”a mutation.”
The mutation was not a deformity, however. It meant that little Elizabeth was born with double rows of eyelashes.
Sara breathed a little easier to learn that.
“I thought,well, now, that doesn’t sound so terrible at all.”
Elizabeth’s eyes were stunning – large and blue, rimmed by deep, thick lashes. When caught in the light, the color of her eyes was almost violet. (1)
Double rows of eyelashes are usually the result of a mutation at FOXC2 , a gene that influences all kinds of tissue development in embryos. FOXC2 mutations are thought to be responsible for, among other things, lymphedema-distichiasissyndrome , a hereditary disease that can cause disorders of the lymphatic system, in addition to double eyelashes.
The eyelash mutation isn’t always as cosmetically enhancing as Taylor’s turned out to be — the extra eyelashes can sometimes grow inward and damage the cornea. In addition, seven percent of people with lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome also suffer from congenital heart disease.
Coincidentally, Taylor herself had a history of heart problems. In 2009, Taylor underwent surgery to repair a leaky heart valve. Her death on March 23, 2011, was attributed to congestive heart failure.
Readers, for more on Elizabeth Taylor at Lisa’s History Room, click here.