Richard Burton (Actor)
(Richard Walter Jenkins)
b. 10 Nov 1925 – d. 5 Aug 1984
UK Royal Navy
In 1943, during the height of World War II in Britain, Burton took advantage of an Royal Air Force recruiting scheme, which offered a short course at Oxford or Cambridge universities in exchange for future military service. It was during this time where he began his studies in acting and first performed on stage. Failing to become a pilot due to poor eyesight, he left Oxford in 1944, one of twelve prize-winning cadets to receive his commission as a navigator in the Royal Navy.
Posted to Norfolk at the end of the war, in his own words, Burton entertained himself by drinking, poaching and sleeping with every woman he could until his release from the service in 1947.
Years back I saw a bio called "Richard Burton: In From The Cold" which was one of the best documentaries I have ever seen! I have never found it again; does anyone know anything about this program?
'She is a brilliant actress, she is beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography': Secret diaries of Richard Burton as he describes his Hollywood wife Elizabeth Taylor
Burton's diaries are to be be published later this year after they were given to Swansea University by his widow Sally Burton
'I have been inordinately lucky all my life but the greatest luck of all has been Elizabeth'
'She can tolerate my impossibilities and my drunkenness, she is an ache in the stomach when I am away from her and she loves me'
By MICHAEL SEAMARK
There have been few more turbulent love affairs, but Richard Burton's passion for Elizabeth Taylor was never doubted.
She was, said the hell-raising actor, 'beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography'.
The depth of his feelings towards the woman he married twice is revealed in Burton's private diaries which are to be published for the first time.
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra in1963 Burton describes Elizabeth as 'the prospectus that can never be entirely catalogued, an almanac for poor Richard. And I shall love her forever'
When he died in 1984, aged 58, Burton left more than 400,000 words in pocket books, desk diaries and loose papers describing his inner-most thoughts. In neat, handwritten notes he recorded 'watching his weight, watching his drinking, or watching other men watch his Elizabeth'.
But the most personal entries record his romance with Taylor, the woman he met on the set of Cleopatra in 1963.
Hollywood's golden couple married in 1964 for the first time but divorced after ten years. Sixteen months later, in 1975, they married again, although this time it lasted less than a year.
In November 1968, Burton wrote: 'I have been inordinately lucky all my life but the greatest luck of all has been Elizabeth. She has turned me into a model man but not a prig, she is a wildly exciting lover-mistress, she is shy and witty, she is nobody's fool.
'She is a brilliant actress, she is beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography, she can be arrogant and wilful, she is clement and loving. She is Sunday's child, she can tolerate my impossibilities and my drunkenness, she is an ache in the stomach when I am away from her and she loves me.
'She is the prospectus that can never be entirely catalogued, an almanac for poor Richard. And I shall love her forever.' Burton's diaries were given to Swansea University by his widow, Sally Burton, and are due to be published later this year.
The actor, who was married five times and had four children, began keeping diaries when he was 14 and continued until just before his death. Most of the entries cover the years 1965 to 1972. They were edited by Professor Christopher Williams who said yesterday: 'The words reveal a rather different Richard Burton from the one most people have in their minds.
'It reveals somebody who is much more reflective and thoughtful and someone who engaged intellectually with the world around him.
'It's not just the ale-and-women kind of image. From 1965 to 1972 he was with Elizabeth and it was when their lives were as settled as they ever were.
'It is a very frank and raw account of their marriage and relationship. It's a bit sad because we know it's all going to come to an end but it is also revealing and touching and Elizabeth comes out of it extremely well.'
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor married for the first time in a secret ceremony in Montreal in 1964. In his diary, Burton says: 'She has turned me into a model man but not a prig, she is a wildly exciting lover-mistress'
But readers also get a rare glimpse into the complexitites of Burton's relationship with Taylor – as well as confessions of his occasional aggressive behaviour towards her.
On Sunday, August 31, 1969, he wrote: 'Yesterday was another terrible day. I behaved in a way to make a banshee look kind, good and sweet. Insulting Elizabeth, drunk, periodically excusing myself rather shabbily and then starting the rough treatment all over again.
Elizabeth Taylor kisses Richard Burton on their first wedding day in 1964
'Sometimes I am so much my father's son that I give myself occasional creeps. He had the same gift for damaging with the tongue, he had the same temporary violence, he had the same fidelity to Mam that I have to Elizabeth.'
Burton stopped writing in 1972, two years before he and Taylor were divorced. But he began a handwritten pocket diary for 1975, the year they remarried.
After that the actor recorded his life on loose pages kept in a ring binder in 1980 and then in a desk diary in 1983. The diaries, to be published in October by Yale University Press, include vignettes of the famous people who crossed his path, mentioning Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Franco Zeffirelli, Aristotle Onassis and the Duke of Windsor.
In July 1971, Burton wrote: 'Heard this morning that Julie Andrews is in town also that John Kenneth Galbraith has just left. Wish it were the other way round.'