Doomed Love: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
The Hollywood Couple
One of Hollywood's legendary couples. That have gone down as having such a fiery relationship that involved two marriages and one divorce. Between their heavy drinking and legendary arguments its surprising their relationships lasted at all.
Their love affair really did start with a bang with one of the biggest Hollywood scandals in recent memory. On the set of one of the most expensive epics ever made. "Cleopatra", which took 3 years to make, the Direct "Joseph Mankiewicz" having a break down part of the way through filming, which is hardly surprising considering "Elizabeth Taylor" asked for a 1 million dollar paycheck. The overall cost of the film came to $44 million.
Initially there was no real attraction between Taylor and Burton, that was until Burton appeared thoroughly hungover on set, Taylor came to his aid with a cup of coffee to ease the dreaded hangover. Taylor was immediately attracted to the frailty and vulnerability of her co star. The affair began. At the time both were married, Burton to his Sybil, and Taylor to Eddie Fisher, which was the result of a previous affair with Debbie Reynolds husband.
On the set of "Cleopatra" photographs had been taken of the two getting a little too close for comfort. Chaos followed with Congress debating whether they should be allowed back in the country, the Pope accusing Taylor of sexual vagrancy. Indifferent, the pair carried on with their affair until the end of filming. The press hounded their respective partners, Burton known for having previous affairs, with the intention of going back to his wife. When filming finished in 1963, Burton returned to his wife and family, Taylor was rushed the hospital after taking a massive dose of pills. At this point feelings were so intense, both parties asked for a divorce from their respective partners, and married in March 1964.
Riding the wave of success that came with the press attention, the couple made 11 films together, divorcing in 1974, but remarried again in 1975 in the African Jungle. Unfortunately the arguments didn't stop and neither did Burton's drinking. After being together for a year they divorced, for the last time. The pair still remained close until Burton's death in 1984.
Elizabeth Taylor kept a letter from Richard Burton by her bed up until her death. Her wish was granted when it was placed in her coffin, at her burial in Los Angeles. She did reveal to her biographers that Burton wrote in his letter that "home was where Elizabeth was, and he wanted to come home".
© 2011 Helen Bolam
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