Richard Burton

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Richard Burton in The Robe (1953)
Richard Burton in the film The Robe (film).
Richard Burton in the film Cleopatra (1963)

Richard Burton, CBE (November 10, 1925August 5, 1984) born Richard Walter Jenkins was a Welsh stage and cinema actor noted for his mellifluous baritone voice and his great acting talent. Establishing himself as a formidable Shakespearean actor in the 1950s, with a memorable performance of Hamlet in 1964, Burton was called "the natural successor to Olivier" by critic and dramaturg Kenneth Tynan.

Quotes[edit]

  • If I had a chance for another life, I would certainly choose a better complexion... I rather like my reputation, actually, that of a spoiled genius from the Welsh gutter, a drunk, a womanizer; it's rather an attractive image. When he reached the age of 50, after a five-year career slump. I can only say with Edith Piaf, 'Je ne regrette rien'.
    • In "Richard Burton, 58, is Dead; Rakish Stage and Screen Star"
  • You reach the top of the heap, but it's a circle, and you slip on the down side; maybe for years. You get scared. He said then he thought he was coming out of a slump.
    • In "Richard Burton, 58, is Dead; Rakish Stage and Screen Star"
  • She can do everything…there’s nothing she can’t do...she looks after me so well. Thank God I’ve found her.’
    • About Sally Hay whom he married in 1983, in “Life: Richard Burton”
Burton and Ava Gardner in The Night of the Iguana (1964): The Welsh are all actors. It's only the bad ones who become professional.
  • I stayed in bed all day yesterday, for instance, while she [Elizabeth Taylor] spent the entire day until well after midnight sitting in the main room, gossiping, etc. And, of course, inevitably sipping away at the drinks... What is more frightening is that she has become bored with everything in life.
    • In "Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor: The Love Letters. How drinking cocooned them from pressure of fame. Without it, they couldn't even make love."
  • She [Elizabeth Taylor] never reads a book, at least not more than a couple of pages at a time... I have always been a heavy drinker but now as a result of this half-life we've been leading I am drinking twice as much. The upshot will be that I'll die of drink while she'll go blithely on in her half-world.
    • In "Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor: The Love Letters. How drinking cocooned them from pressure of fame. Without it, they couldn't even make love."
I might run from her for a thousand years and she is still my baby child. Our love is so furious that we burn each other out.
  • I might run from her for a thousand years and she is still my baby child. Our love is so furious that we burn each other out.
  • I'm afraid we are temporarily out in the cold, and fallen stars. What is remarkable is that we have stayed up there for so long.
    • In "Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor: The Love Letters. How drinking cocooned them from pressure of fame. Without it, they couldn't even make love."
    • The reason for this was the low-budget movies made by new kids on the block that were making money.
  • 'Dear Long-wayaway-one,' very antisocial I am when I don't booze. And no fun when you're not around... Do you love me? Do you want to be a lazy Jane and never work again? Once I stopped boozing I have enjoyed not working. But we can't do it though.
    • In "Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor: The Love Letters. How drinking cocooned them from pressure of fame. Without it, they couldn't even make love."
  • I wanted that diamond because it is incomparably lovely. And it should be on the loveliest woman [Elizabeth Taylor] in the world.
    • In "Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor: The Love Letters. How drinking cocooned them from pressure of fame. Without it, they couldn't even make love."
    • From then on, the stone came to be known as the 'Taylor-Burton diamond'
  • I have always felt that the camera hasn't liked me. I'm a stage animal. I have to be big and loud, and the camera needs you to be small and naturalistic and subtle; much more naturalistic. I'm as subtle as a buffalo stampede.
  • Monogamy is absolutely imperative. The minute you start fiddling around outside the idea of monogamy, nothing satisfies anymore. Suppose you make love to an exciting woman other than your wife, it can’t remain enough to go bed with her there must be something else, something more than the absolute compulsion of the body. But if there is something more, it will eventually destroy either you or your marriage.
  • Although I like to be thought of as a tough rugby-playing Welsh miner's son, able to take on the world, the reality is that this image is just superficial. I am the reverse of what people think.
    • In Richard Burton Biography, IMDb
  • It's difficult for me to know where to start with rugby. I come from a fanatically rugby-conscious Welsh miner's family, know so much about it, have read so much about it, have heard with delight so many massive lies and stupendous exaggerations about it and have contributed my own fair share, and five of my six brothers played it, one with some distinction... it's difficu1t for me to know where to start so I’ll begin with the end. The last shall be first, as it is said, so I'll tell you about the last match I ever played in...I had played the game representatively from the age of ten until those who employed me in my profession, which is that of actor, insisted that I was a bad insurance risk against certain dread teams in dead-end valleys who would have little respect, no respect, or outright disrespect for what I was pleased to call my face. What if I were unfortunate enough to be on the deck in the middle of a loose maul...they murmured in dollar accents?
Burton's gravestone at the Vieux Cemetery in Céligny.

About Richard Burton[edit]

  • At two years' old, Richard was scooped up by his sister Cecilia or ‘Cis’, and taken to live with her and her husband, Elfed, and their two daughters Marian and Rhianon, in Port Talbot. He remained forever grateful to Cis throughout his varied and colourful life.
  • In the Druid's Rest, Richard won the role in which he made his London debut at age 18. In a wretched part, he showed exceptional ability.
    • New Statesman, in “Richard Burton, 58, is Dead; Rakish Stage and Screen Star”
  • He was a Welsh coal miner's son whose celebrity was defined as much by his rakish personal life as his remarkable acting skills...One of Britain's greatest Shakespearean stage actors by the age of 27, he offered rugged good looks, a magnetic stage presence and an incomparable voice...[His voice]'with a tympanic resonance so rich and overpowering that it could give an air of verse to a recipe for stewed hare.
  • a monstrous perfectionist and a troubled spirit.
    • Friends, in “Richard Burton, 58, is Dead; Rakish Stage and Screen Star”
  • He should have been in the same rank as Laurence Olivier, but he was very wild and had a scandal around him all the time and I think in theater circles that would not be approved of.
    • Sir John Gielgud, in “Richard Burton, 58, is Dead; Rakish Stage and Screen Star”
  • a born actor...He was serious, charming, with tremendous skill...He chose a rather mad way of throwing away his theater career but obviously he became very famous and a world figure through being a film star. He was awfully good to people and generous.
    • Sir John Gielgud, who had worked with him on the film Wagner, in “Richard Burton, 58, is Dead; Rakish Stage and Screen Star”
  • He has a terrific way with women. I don't think he has missed more than half a dozen.
    • Fredric March, in “Richard Burton, 58, is Dead; Rakish Stage and Screen Star”
  • Money was nice but it was not everything to the actor whose greatest joys were words, words, and words.
    • Biography, in "Life: Richard Burton"
  • A brimming pool running disturbingly deep...His voice is urgent and keen... He turned interested speculation into awe as soon as he started to speak.
    • Kenneth Tynan of British theatre, in “Life: Richard Burton”
  • Exceptional ability.
    • A critic’s comment when he, in 1944, before going to Oxford, appeared in The Druid’s Rest, a play by Emlyn Williams, quoted in “Life: Richard Burton”
With husband Richard Burton in The Sandpiper (1965)
Endpapers of the original 1906 run of the Everyman's Library.
  • Surrounded by his thousand treasured volumes of the Everyman's Library—a gift from Elizabeth—he wrote a letter to Elizabeth and posted it to her home in Bel Air, in Los Angeles. But by the time she received the letter, Burton was dead. He had gone to bed and sometime during the night suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.
    • Sam Kashner, in "A Love Too Big To Last"
  • A gifted actor who rose to fame due to a combination of raw sex appeal, talent, and his grand romance with Elizabeth Taylor. He was ruggedly handsome and blessed with a mellifluous baritone that could make the reading of a dictionary sound like poetry. Many critics lamented the fact that he didn't live up to his potential.
    • Scott Siegel, Barbara Siegel, in Burton, Richard, Encyclopedia of Hollywood, Second Edition
  • Alcoholism began taking its toll on Burton and, perhaps even more insidiously, his disregard for his craft began to tell. He cared little for his movie projects except for the cash they might earn him, a fact he readily acknowledged. Yet, despite his many mediocre movies, his appeal as an actor was undeniable, and he did occasionally soar in a few of his later movies,
    • Scott Siegel, Barbara Siegel, in "Burton, Richard"
  • Burton's much ballyhooed affair with Elizabeth Taylor during the making of Cleopatra (1963 film) turned him into an international sex symbol. He was [[w{Mark Antony|Mark Antony]] to Taylor's Cleopatra, and the press went wild with the story. Until then, he was considered the heir to [Laurence Olivier|Olivier]] as England's greatest actor.
    • Scott Siegel, Barbara Siegel, in "Burton, Richard"
  • Make up your mind, dear heart. Do you want to be a great actor or a household word?" Burton's reply was, "Both."

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
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