LOS ANGELES – "I don?t think anyone knew how much we loved each other," Elizabeth Taylor said after Michael Jackson's 2009 death, reflecting the intense -- if perhaps unlikely -- bond between the pair.
Taylor and Jackson shared a key formative experience in common: they were both child stars who arguably missed out on a proper childhood.
The pop icon and Hollywood legend were at times inseparable, with homes near each other in the plush Bel Air and Beverly Hills neighborhoods west of Hollywood.
After Taylor's death Wednesday at the age of 79, the blogosphere was alive with talk of them being reunited in heaven.
"She is probably up in heaven right now, going monkey shopping with Michael Jackson," said one blogger, referring to infamously eccentric stories from Jackson's life.
Taylor, who died of complications from congestive heart failure in the Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, was knocked sideways by Jackson's untimely death aged 50 in June 2009.
Tabloid reports suggested she was hospitalized with grief, apparently confirmed when she said via Twitter: "I'm home from the hospital sore, but intact. Of course I'm still grieving for Michael... I always will."
"My heart... my mind... are broken," she said. "I loved Michael with all my soul and I can't imagine life without him. We had so much in common and we had such loving fun together."
Their friendship began in the 1980s when Taylor abruptly walked out of a Jackson concert in Los Angeles complaining that she could not see the performance or hear the music, according to news reports of the time.
Jackson called Taylor afterwards in tears, reports said at the time, but once she explained the reason for her exit the pair got talking, and it developed from there.
"Then we met, and spent more and more time with each other, and just became really good friends. Told each other everything," Taylor said in a 2006 interview, cited by Fox News.
They were united notably by what Taylor called "horrible" childhoods, blighted by having become celebrities at a young age.
Despite their 27-year age gap the pair were regularly pictured together, including at AIDS charity events which Taylor organized, and on red carpets in Hollywood and around the world.
The Oscar-winning actress, arguably the last great star of Hollywood's golden era, is even credited by some as having first called Jackson the "King of Pop."
Taylor later defended Jackson from child molestation charges, explaining that she too had spent nights with him at his Neverland ranch, without anything untoward happening.
"There was nothing abnormal about it. There was no touchy-feely going on. We laughed like children, and we watched a lot of Walt Disney. There was nothing odd about it," Taylor said, according to Fox News.
Some say the actress, long dogged by health woes, never properly recovered after Jackson's death two years ago.
"He will live in my heart forever but it's not enough. My life feels so empty," she said at the time, calling his friendship "the purest most giving love I've ever known."