Richard Burton

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H I S  L I F E

Richard Burton (1925-1984), born Richard Walter Jenkins Jr.

April 2017: Added details and photos of the book Richard Burton So Much, So Little (1995)

July 13: Added a Trivia section with more fascinating facts on Richard Burton than you will find on any other page! Just added details of his daughter's lifetime illness, of the making Cleopatra, 1984, his relationship with Dylan Thomas and what he thought of Liz Taylor's breasts. More to come...Read more here.

richard burton diaries book

Sept. 2013: As part of photographing the covers and inner flaps of every book ever published, I've started the scans on Richard Burton books which can be viewed here (smartphone page). Just a few for the mo. but will be added to. If you have any photos of any Richard Burton book covers from any part of the world why not e-mail ( them to me and I'll put them up. The aim is to have a visual record of every Richard Burton book ever published. Inner flaps and the publishers notes contain so much info about the book - I like to include at least the flap as well if possible. And your help makes it a lot easier. Or, if you prefer, you can send me your unwanted books and I can scan them. Any book, not just this author. Address: Paul Page, 5 High St., South Norwood, London SE25 6EP, UK. If you are thinking of chucking those books out then this would make a perfect alternative home for them...Also added Richard Burton - YouTube Slideshow

He was born on the 10th November 1925 at Pontrhydyfen in Wales. A Welsh miner's son who never forgot his roots, Richard Burton gained a reputation as one of the world's finest actors, and then was criticized for placing fame and money above art and dedication to his craft. Through the help of his schoolmaster, Philip Burton, young Richard Jenkins received a scholarship to Oxford University (later taking Burton's name as his own), and studied acting; along the way he developed a distinctive and beautiful speaking voice.

He made his first stage appearance in 1943, but his career did not begin in earnest until after he left the British Navy in 1947.

The Last Days of Dolwyn (1948) provided young Burton his film debut, and he made a striking impression in a stage revival of The Lady's Not for Burning in 1949. When Burton came with the play to Broadway the following year, he registered solidly with American producers, and was chosen to play the male lead in My Cousin Rachel (1952), a Daphne du Maurier mystery. His success in that film led to a flurry of Hollywood activity in such pictures as The Robe (1953), The Rains of Ranchipur and Prince of Players (both 1955), but he did not set the box office on fire and subsequently spent much of his time on the stage both in Britain and in the U.S...(scroll down).

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    'I've done the most awful rubbish in order to have
    somewhere to go in the morning.’
    ~ Richard Burton

His Life

Burton starred in several respectable British films in the late 1950s, including Look Back in Anger (1959), but his elevation to superstardom began with his casting as King Arthur in the Broadway musical Camelot in 1960 (which won him a Tony Award), and his role as Marc Antony in the 1963 film version of Cleopatra. A star-crossed production, it was begun and halted several times in several different countries with several different directors. During the making of the film, Burton and his co-star Elizabeth Taylor carried on an affair, which led both to divorce their current mates-and become headline fodder around the world.

    When I played drunks I had to remain sober because
    I didn't know how to play them when I was drunk
    ~ Richard Burton

The Burton-Taylor team became hot box office, and although he played Hamlet on stage (which was also photographed for showing in movie theaters) and Becket in the movies (both 1964), he commanded the most audience attention in slick entertainments with his wife, such as The V.I.P.s (1963) and The Sandpiper (1965). Art and commerce found a common ground in the couple's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Taming of the Shrew (1967), but audiences grew restive with both his on-again, off-again relationship with Taylor, and the later films they did together: The Comedians (1967), Dr. Faustus, Boom! (both 1968), Hammersmith Is Out (1972), and the TV movie Divorce His-Divorce Hers (1973).

In fact, Burton became notorious for appearing in films-always for the money, which he never denied-that wasted his considerable talents, including Bluebeard (1972), The Voyage (1973), The Klansman (1974), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Medusa Touch (1978), Lovespell (1979), Absolution (1981, filmed in 1978), and Wagner (1983). Burton was honored seven times with Oscar nominations, as Best Supporting Actor for My Cousin Rachel (odd, since he was the male lead) and as Best Actor for The Robe, Becket, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), and Equus (1977), but he never won the gold statue.

His final work was in a well-received 1984 miniseries, Ellis Island (which featured his daughter, actress Kate Burton) and the impressive remake of 1984 (1984). He wrote of his relationship with Taylor in the slim but charming volume Meeting Mrs. Jenkins (1966).

OTHER FILMS INCLUDE:  1951: Green Grow the Rushes  1956: Alexander the Great  1959: Bitter Victory  1962: The Longest Day  1964: The Night of the Iguana  1968: Candy  1969: Where Eagles Dare  1971: Raid on Rommel  1973:Massacre in Rome  1978: The Wild Geese  1980: Circle of Two.

Richard Burton Dvds @

This Site:
The Comedians | Richard Burton Reads Dylan Thomas CD | Medusa Touch | Absolution | Bitter Victory
The Longest Day | Massacre in Rome | Where Eagles Dare | Desert Fox / Desert Rats

War of the Worlds Dvd

© - Paul Page (2011)

Death & Marriages

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He was 5' 9½" (1.77 m) tall

He was married five times:

    - Sally Hay (1983 - 5 August 1984) (his death)
    - Susan Hunt (1976 - 1982) (divorrrcced)
    - Elizabeth Taylor (1975 - 1976) (((remarried/redivorced)
    - Elizabeth Taylor (15 March 196444 --- 1974) (divorced)
    - Sybil Williams (c. 1948 - 1963))) (divorced)

Died of cerebral hemorrhage shortly after the filming of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) was completed, on the 5th August 1984 in Céligny, Geneva, Switzerland.

Burton died less than a week before he was due to begin shooting Wild Geese II, a sequel to his successful mercenary thriller The Wild Geese, made in 1978. He was the only actor returning for the film and, as Colonel Allen Faulkner, would have led a team of crack mercenaries to spring aged Nazi Rudolf Hess from Spandau Prison in Berlin. Burton's death caused huge problems for producer Euan Lloyd, the man behind the original Wild Geese and its follow-up. With the rest of the cast - Scott Glenn, Barbara Carrera and Laurence Olivier, playing Hess - in place, Lloyd had just a handful of days to find a replacement for Burton. He selected British actor Edward Fox, who joined the cast as Alex Faulkner, Burton's brother. Burton's no-show in the film was explained by one character telling Fox that they'd heard his famous warrior brother had died. The film was dedicated to Burton's memory.

Richard Burton Dvds @

This Site:
The Comedians | Richard Burton Reads Dylan Thomas CD | Medusa Touch | Absolution | Bitter Victory
The Longest Day | Massacre in Rome | Where Eagles Dare | Desert Fox / Desert Rats

© - Paul Page (2011)

Where Eagles Dare

clint eastwood and richard burton in where eagles dare
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© TCM Classic Hollywood

Where Eagles Dare cameabout because Richard Burton, in need of a hitfollowing a run of box-officefailures, was told by his childrenthat he should play a 'real hero'.

Clint Eastwood was reluctant to take secondbilling after Burton, but an$800,000 fee changed his mind.

As such a valuable part ofthe production, and becausemuch of the action was quitedangerous, Eastwood wasn'tallowed to do his own stunts;frustrated, he dubbed thefilm Where Doubles Dare.

Richard Burton and his troop of elitecommandos parachute behindenemy lines to infiltrate aBavarian castle. Clint Eastwood'slaconic assassin, the obligatorytraitor in their midst, a deviousfinal twist and a load of Naziswho can't shoot straight are thewinning ingredients in this WorldWar II Boy's Own adventure,scripted by Alistair MacLean.

Ages when filming:

  • Richard Burton | 42
  • Clint Eastwood | 37

Where Eagles Dare in full

R I C H A R D  B U R T O N

All the Richard Burton facts you will need! Trivia has been sourced from the definitive book Richard Burton: Prince of Players. Available at (direct link). 2008 trivia below © Michael Munn.

  • With reference to his first wife, Sybil, who died in March of 2013, Richard Burton told the author, Michael Munn: 'I only ever loved two women before Elizabeth. Sybil was one, Claire Bloom the other.

    In 1979, on the set of Clash of the Titans, Claire told the author: 'I met Rich for the first time when we both auditioned for The Lady's Not for Burning. I thought how beautiful he was with those green eyes...'

  • His co-star in Where Eagles Dare, Mary Ure, was a former lover.

  • One of his least favourite films was Anne of the Thousand Days.

  • During the making of The Wild Geese (1978, he suffered pain from pinched nerves in his neck and back.

  • Stephen Boyd had originally been cast as Antony when filming on Cleopatra began in 1960 at Pinewood Studios in England. Because there were delays in production partly due to the English climate making Elizabeth Taylor continually ill, he had to drop out due to ther commitments. Burton replaced him as did Rex Harrison Peter Finch for the same reason.

    Burton hadn't been first choice to replace Boyd. The director Joseph L. Mankiewicz wanted Marlon Brando but he was making Mutiny on the Boounty so wasn't available.

    The film was costly from the outset, the budget having risen from $10 million to $14 million with only seven minutes of film shot, none of it usable.

    He did his first shot on Cleopatra on 2nd January 1962.

    Burton told the author when talking about Elizabeth Taylor naked in the bath scene: 'Oh, her body. It was ... intoxicating. You could not look at Elizabeth nude and not want her. So, yes, of course as soon as I saw her nude I wanted her... That's just lust, and I have plenty of that'.

  • Burton had one very simple, although hardly definitive, explanation as to why he fell for her: 'She has the best pair of t*ts in the world! There was nothing better in life, apart from a good book, to wake up in the morning and the first thing I see is the most fabulous pair of t*ts'. He affectionately called her 'Miss T*ts' on the set.

  • Richard's daughter, Jessica, has spent most of her life in care. In 1979 Burton said: 'I fear I gave my daughter a mental illness that is part of my own'.

  • He got the offer for his part as O'Brien in George Orwell's 1984 whilst in Haiti. He wasn't first choice. Paul Schofield was originally going to play the part but had broken his leg. Sean Connery and Marlon Brando had turned the role down.

    1984 was made at Shepperton Studios. He kept forgetting his lines. There were 29 takes of his first set-up and 35 takes of his second set-up.

  • In 1976 his great friend, Sir Stanley Baker (Burton was 'the voice' in Baker's classic film, Zulu) was ill with lung cancer. Richard telephoned him and said, 'Why don't I see you any more?' Baker said that he had tried often to call but had never been able to get through; so many friends from the past had long given up trying to contact Richard. It shook him as did Stanley's death, a week or so later, on 28th June 1976.

  • He got married to his fourth wife, Suzy Hunt on the 21st August 1976 in Virginia. They divorced in Haiti in February 1983.

  • Shortly before his great friend Dylan Thomas died, Thomas had telephoned him in a drunken state and asked to borrow £200 for what he described as 'the education of my children'.

    £200 was a lot of money in 1953 and Richard simply didn't ave that much cash on him. Then Thomas told Rich that he had written a play, Under Milk Wood, which he would sell to him for £200, but Rich still had to explain he didn't have the money. Shortly after, Thomas went to America where he died.

    Burton did Under Milk Wood on BBC radio - the play's first ever performance. His wife Sybil was also in it. They donated their fees to Dylan's widow, Caitlin, and their children.

    In early 1971 he made the film version of Under Milk Wood. Budget was just £300,000 and was made in just 40 days. The stars, Burton, O'Toole an Elizabeth Taylor (a real coup getting her name on board and was really O'Toole's persuasion) agreed to small fees but large profits. The film never made much money.

    It was shot in the Gwaun Valley in Wales with many of the locals appearing as extras and in small roles.

  • Recommended Listening: Richard Burton Reads Dylan Thomas | Under Milk Wood - Richard Burton & All Welsh Cast

  • Richard Burton - YouTube Slideshow

    I M A G E S

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    burton and taylor in cleopatra
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    jean simmons and richard burton
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    richard burton film poster
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    Richard Burton Relaxing in Cantina on Locationby Gjon Mili 1968 Film Where Eagles Dare: Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton, Mary Ure and Ingrid Pitt 1968 Film Where Eagles Dare: Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton, Mary Ure and Ingrid Pitt 1968 Film Where Eagles Dare: Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton, Mary Ure and Ingrid Pitt Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, July 1964 Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, April 1965 Richard Burton Richard Burton Richard Burton Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton Watch Fight Between Henry Cooper and Casius Clay at Wembley Richard Burton Richard Burton

    D V D S  &  C D S

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    M O V I E  P O S T E R S

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    V I E W I N G

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    []  The Richard Burton Collection 3 DVD Set [2007] 3 Obscure Burton Films [DVD]
    []  Villain [DVD] Richard Burton Playing The Krays & The Richardsons In One Go!!

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