By Dylis Jones
If you are a golden-ager, you will certainly be aware of the on-off-on again relationship or Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. But what really went on behind the doors including the bedroom, has never been fully revealed.
Now a voice from the grave will throw a spotlight on their tempestuous relationship. Unless someone comes up with Liz’s journal to give another viewpoint , as with Tolstoy and his wife, it’s going to be a one sided picture, but people will likely be lining up to get it, and will Hollywood be far behind?
The couple were always in the public eye, even when trying to live their own lives.
I once witnessed them going into a restaurant on Kings Road Chelsea during the glory days of swinging London. Within minutes the word had got round and a crowd, even in a city used to celebrities, gathered on the sidewalk (known locally as the pavement).
This how The Week with its fingers on the British celebrity pulse from politicians to killers and media magnates, views the upcoming publication:
EXTRACTS from the diary of actor Richard Burton, detailing his passion for Elizabeth Taylor, his battles with alcohol, and his thoughts about the world, will be published for the first time this year.
The Welsh-born actor, who died in 1984 comes from Port Talbot, the same area as Anthony Hopkins and Zeeta Jones, was known for his resonant voice, his powerful acting roles, and his tempestuous romance with fellow actor Taylor, whom he married twice.
He was also a keen diarist, and 450,000 words of his writings have been edited by Christopher Williams, Professor of Welsh at Swansea University, which was given the diaries by Burton's widow Sally.
The writings contain many passages about the actor's love for Elizabeth Taylor, which The Times calls "one of the great romances of the 20th century". Their on-off relationship began on the set of Cleopatra in 1961, and finally ended after their second divorce in 1976.
In one entry, Burton describes Taylor as "beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography" and says he will "love Elizabeth forever". He credits Taylor with turning him into a "model man", writing "she is a wildly exciting lover-mistress, she is shy and witty, she is nobody's fool". He adds: "She is a brilliant actress... she can be arrogant and wilful".
Burton also records the complexities of their troubled relationship, says the Daily Mail. In one entry he writes remorsefully of his behaviour: "Insulting Elizabeth, drunk, periodically excusing myself rather shabbily and then starting the rough treatment all over again." He adds: "Sometimes I am so much my father's son that I give myself occasional creeps."
Lengthy gaps in the writings suggest there might be missing volumes. Burton always maintained they were personal and not for publication.
The diaries, which will be published in October by Yale University Press, include vignettes of the famous people who crossed Burton's path, mentioning Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Franco Zeffirelli, Aristotle Onassis and the Duke of Windsor.
In 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." •