Taylor And Burton's Puerto Vallarta
The Burton's Love Affair With Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Article By Sharon Stajda
Yes, the "Burton's made their home in Puerto Vallarta for many years. In fact Casa Kimberley was one of the very first houses Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton called home. The couple loved the small town of Puerto Vallarta, and its people. The people of Puerto Vallarta made them welcome, and clearly loved them dearly.
Theirs was a romance that will long be remembered. I am referring to Liz and Dick, as their fans, and admirers would refer to them. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had a long, and somewhat torrid romance, which ended in divorce, not once but twice.However, their years in Puerto Vallarta were some of their happiest.
My First Visit To The Burton's Puerto Vallarta Home Casa Kimberley
The minute I found out from a taxi driver that Casa Kimberley was open for tours, I knew I had to climb the hill behind the church, and have a look. I could feel their presence the moment I walked into the beautiful villa. The villa is located up the hill, just behind the church, In a section of town that is known as" Gringo Gulch." The home has the most breathtaking views of the Bay of Banderas, and the city of Puerto Vallarta. Casa Kimberley was bought by Richard as a gift for Elizabeth 32 birthday. The couple had fallen in love with Puerto Vallarta when Richard Burton, accompanied by Elizabeth Taylor, came to shoot a film, "The Night Of The Iguana." Casa Kimberley was actually one of the first homes they shared as a married couple. They lived in Puerto Vallarta for many years. I am sure there was some truth to the stories that still circulate today,of the couple's tempestuous arguments. Which as a rule would lead to Richard being banned from the Casa, and sent packing across the pink bridge, that spans the street below, to the pool house across the road.
The Keeper Of The Casa
We were greeted at the door by a Mexican woman, that introduced herself as Elizabeth s "housekeeper" . She actually ended up being the daughter of Elizabeth's Puerto Vallarta housekeeper. She was very soft spoken, a very pretty woman.
This lovely woman was kind enough to sit and speak with me after I had toured the home. She sat in the sun lit kitchen, and gave a softer picture of the Burton's life in Puerto Vallarta. Yes, there are many long lived tale's of the goings on at the Casa Kimberly. However, I got a somewhat different story. This lovely woman had grown up in Casa Kimberly, due to mother being employed by the Burton's. Her mother cared for the home until her death, long after the Burtons had divorced, and no longer used the home. After her mother's death, she took the position of watching over the Casa Kimberley, in Ms.Taylor's absence. She hoped to remain anonymous, and I will respect her request. I felt all she said rang true.
She spoke of Liz and Dick bringing a young Mexican boy into their home, whose mother had died . "They did not adopt the child as their own, but loved him as if he were their own"...She also spoke of the Burton's founding an orphanage in Puerto Vallarta, "The Elizabeth Taylor Orphanage." She claimed Liz would walk into town with her mother, and a small donkey, to shop for food.
Liz And Dick Casa Kimberley balcony, overlooking Gringo Gulch, Puerto Vallarta
The Housekeepers Perception Of The Burton's
I asked about the notorious fight's that the Burton's were well know for. She replied, "they were very much in love, married people fight. You could always see they loved one another, just how they looked at one another. It was in their eyes".
I inquired, did either ever come back after they divorce? She claimed Liz had returned for a couple visits, the last being just after Richard's death. "She could not even spend the night in the casa, she ended up staying the night at the Camino Real Hotel. The memories just seem to be to painful for her".
Richard Burton died in 1984. Casa Kimberley was sold by Elizabeth in 1990. Rumor has it that the money from the sale was donated to Aids research. It's very clear that the people of Puerto Vallarta have great admiration for the Burton's. I have been visiting Puerto Vallarta for many years now since that interview with the housekeeper's daughter. I make it a point to visit Casa Kimberley each time I come to town.
Richard and Elizabeth playing in the Purto Vallarta surf.
So What Has Become Of Casa Kinberley
For a while the Casa Kimberley was a Bed And Breakfast, and continued to have daily tours. There was a wonderful colorful gentleman, that gave guided tours, and would guide visitors' through the casa. He would supply guests' with wonderful stories of the Burton's time in Puerto Vallarta. In 2009 I found Casa Kimberley I found it vacant, in sad disrepair. There was a padlock on the entry door, and one could see, the casa had been vacant for some time? This so saddened me. As I stood outside the Casa Kimberly, and pondered it's sad condition, I could almost hear the echoes of voices, and Elizabeth's hardy laugh coming from this now quite home. Voices from long ago. A hearty Welshman shouting, a soft sultry sigh. If walls could talk, the walls at Casa Kimberley would surely remind any passer by - this was once the home of star crossed lovers, Elizabeth and Dick Burton.
In 2014 I found the home partly demolished, the pink bridge still hangs over the street . It is rumored that a small condo complex is going to be built to replace Casa Kimberley.
I took this photo Feb, 12, 2013 ... So Sad
This year as always I do each year I climbed the hill to Elizabeth and Richard's lovely home. I was saddened to see it a mere shell, it has been pretty much "gutted". The pink stucco bridge still connects Richards home to the wreckage. Not sure what will be done with the home in the end. It is "rumored" that the new owner of the home is going to refurbish the home.
So Sad To Report - "Richard And Elizabeth's" Gringo Gulch Home Is In Shambles
Lost Footage Of Richard and Elizabeth In Puerto Vallarta
Liz And Dicks Statue Graces El Fuente Del Puente Restaurant
Liz and Dick celebrating with cast after days shoot
Liz And Dick outside Casa Kimberley Puerto Vallarta
The Couple Made Strong Binding Friendship's In Puerto Vallarta - Sergio Toledano Had wonderful memories of his time with Richard and Elizabeth
Sergio Toledano was not legally adopted by the couple, but it's obvious, they cared for them very much.
Sergio Toledano was just twelve years old when he met Elizabeth and Richard. It was in the 1960s, and Sergio was visiting his uncle " Xavier de la Torre", in Puerto Vallarta México. The "Burton's were close neighbors, and friends of Sergio's uncle, and the young boy became close to Elizabeth and Richard over his visits to his uncles Villa. Over the years to come many stories were invented, and circulated about Sergio's background, in regards to the "Burton's alleged adoption of the young man. It was said the child was destitute, blind, and orphaned by his mother. When in all reality Sergio had a rather normal childhood, until their death of his mother. Sergio Was Born in Mexico City, and lived there until his mother passed away. He then lived with his uncle in Puerto Vallarta. This is when he did become very close to Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton. Sergio has many wonderful memories of spending time with the famous couple. Richard and Elizabeth and their four children would often visit his uncle's Villa " Leonarda", as well as Sergio, and his uncle visiting the Burton's at Casa Kimberley. "We had a very close co-existence, for many years"....
"Elizabeth Was a very loving, motherly type of woman. Whenever I am asked, if Elizabeth is as beautiful as she appears on the movie screen? She is able to illuminate a darkened Room with Her personality.
Sergio Toledano, went on to become a prestigious photographer. Several decades have passed, and Sergio lost contact with Elizabeth. He was saddened when he heard of Richard's passing.
The Burtons were known to have enjoy many of the earlier years of their marriage in their home in Puerto Vallarta. Taylor, and Burton began their love affair in 1963, while filming the movie "Cleopatra". The Following year, Elizabeth accompanied Richard to the little -known fishing village of Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Where Richard was on location shooting the film " Night of the Iguana." At that point in time Puerto Vallarta was a small town, with few places to stay. The story that has circulated over the years, was that the couple first occupied a room in a modestly priced hotel, by the name of "Hotel Ocean". The popular version to the story is that the hotel ended up being very undesirable to the couple. Which resulted in the couple wanting to return to the United States. Soon after the depute ensued, Elizabeth, and Richard were moved to Casa Kimberly a rental in "Gringo Gulch", which was just across the street from producer John Huston's Villa. In years to come, Richard purchased Casa Kimberley, and presented it to Elizabeth on her 32nd birthday as a gift of his love...
Some time Later, the couple purchased the villa directly across the street. The two villa's were connected by a bridge, which was a replica of "The Bridge of Sighs," that can be found in Venice Italy. The bridge was painted pink, and remains pink to this day.
The Burton's had a profound effect on the small fishing town of Puerto Vallarta. After the world took note of the couples love for the town, development in Puerto took off, and has never slowed down. Puerto Vallarta became a major tourist destinations, and remains so today.
In hindsight how could Elizabeth, and Richards love not have deepened in Puerto Vallarta? A love that bloomed , and resulted in a long time love that lasted most likely throughout both of their lives. One only has to look at the "stage" Puerto Vallarta . Which possesses the sparkling blue Pacific ocean, the warm sand beneath once toes, and the bluest of skies, and not to mention the most fabulous sunsets in the world.
Was Richard Burton, Elizabeths one true love?
Elizabeth & Richard's First Wedding ...
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor wed March 15, 1964. After 10 years the couple divorced in June 26, 1974.
Second Time Around ...
The couple remarried in October 10, 1975. To again divorce on July 29, 1976.
Richard died August 5, 1984
Elizabeth made an attempt to visit Richard's Grave in Switzerland) shortly after his funeral. The Paparazzi made it impossible for her to grieve in private.
A Bit Of Hollywood Days Gone By
It was well known that Lucy in fact was in awe of the Burton's. It was Lucy who, at a Hollywood party (something she rarely attended) with great trepidation, approached Richard and Elizabeth, like a starstruck fan, and asked them about doing her sitcom, a request she never thought they would agree to in a million years".
A Bit Of Hollywood Days Gone By
Can you believe--- It was well known that Lucy in fact was in awe of the Burton's. It was Lucy who, at a Hollywood party (something she rarely attended) with great trepidation, approached Richard and Elizabeth, like a starstruck fan, and asked them about doing her sitcom, a request she never thought they would agree to in a million years"