Sunday, 7 October 2012

Burton and Taylor - the great romance of the sixties

It was one of the great romances in human history - a beautiful, powerful woman and a rough but charming hero. Their passion was epic, as were their fights.  One way or another, the earth clearly moved whenever these two were in the room together.  Antony and Cleopatra - re-incarnated for the fortunate sixties.

Elizabeth Taylor was Hollywood to the core - the pretty child star who grew to claim the title of the "World's Most Beautiful Woman" whilst maturing into one the finest screen actors (or as they were known in the sixties - actresses) of her generation.

'For her own person, It beggared all description'
After several attempts at marriage (Nicky Hilton, Michael Wilding, Mike Todd, and Eddie Fisher) this queen of Hollywood finally found her Mark Antony, both figuratively and literally.

Richard Burton was born Richard Jenkins in Port Talbot (1925). One of thirteen children, his acting career was inspired by a teacher, Philip Burton who encouraged, mentored and eventually adopted him.

When Richard and Elizabeth met and fell for one another, on the set of the epic 1963 film,  Cleopatra, she was still married to Fisher (and he to his first wife, Sybil). Exit stage left, two spouses, enter, stage right, perhaps the greatest romance of the age.

They would remain linked for the rest of their lives - marrying twice and divorcing twice, along the way.  Glamorous and talented, they also became extremely rich (Burton, a charismatic stage and screen presence, became major box office through his link with Taylor).

Taylor and Burton in 1966's Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff for which she won her 2nd Oscar.

And then, of course, there were the gifts...

Elizabeth wearing the 69.42 carat cartier diamond, later known as the Taylor-Burton diamond.
...and...the gifts...

The engagement ring - the Krupp diamond - a mere 33.19 carats.  Call that love?! 
The intensity - fuelled by "impressive" alcohol consumption (especially on his part) - led to divorce in 1974. 

The very next year, they remarried but, as with many second chances, it didn't last. Nine months later they parted again, though it is said he rang her every day for the rest of his life.

Richard Burton died in 1984. Still remembered as one of the great acting voices of the 20th century (Listen to Under Milk Wood or his narration of the 1970s cult album War of the Worlds), he was one of a generation of British 'hell-raisers' (which included Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and Peter O'Toole). 

He was also a man who loved a certain woman...

1 comment:

  1. So, who would it be for you? Taylor or Faithfull? Burton or Connery? Or someone else altogether?

    Let us know and maybe we can devote a page you YOUR 1960s fantasy...