Richard Burton

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Richard Burton

in The Robe (1953)
Born Richard Walter Jenkins
10 November 1925(1925-11-10)
Pontrhydyfen, Wales
Died 5 August 1984(1984-08-05) (aged 58)
Céligny, Switzerland
Cause of death Cerebral haemorrhage
Nationality Welsh
Citizenship United Kingdom
Occupation Actor
Years active 1944–1984
Spouse Sybil Williams (1949–1963, divorced)
Elizabeth Taylor (1964–1974, 1975–1976, divorced)
Suzy Hunt (1976–1982, divorced)
Sally Hay (1983–1984; his death)
Children Kate Burton
Jessica Burton
Liza Todd Burton
Maria Burton
Signature

Richard Walter Burton (10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984) was a Welsh stage and cinema actor.

He appeared in more than 40 movies and received 7 Academy Award nominations. He was a recipient of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Tony Awards for Best Actor. In the mid-1960s, Burton went up into the ranks of the top box office stars[1] and by the late 1960s, was the highest-paid actor in the world. Burton received fees of $1 million or more plus a share of the gross receipts.[2]

Burton remains closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. The couple's relationship was rarely out of the news.[3]

Early life[change | edit source]

Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins in the village of Pontrhydyfen, Neath Port Talbot, Wales. He grew up in a working class and Welsh-speaking household.[4] He was the twelfth of thirteen children of a Welsh coal miner. His mother died before he was two years old. He was raised by his much older sister and her husband. He took his surname from his guardian Philip Burton, a teacher who coached him until he won a scholarship to Oxford University at the age of sixteen.

Career[change | edit source]

Acting[change | edit source]

Burton was a youngster when he made his London acting debut in the play The Druid's Rest. After leaving military service in the air force in 1947, he established himself as a stage actor. He appeared with John Gielgud in The Lady's Not for Burning. His movie career began in 1949 with The Last Days of Dolwyn.

In 1962, he replaced Stephen Boyd as Mark Anthony in the movie Cleopatra opposite Elizabeth Taylor. Their off-screen romance made tabloid headlines around the world. After divorcing their respective spouses, they married in 1964. They then appeared in 11 movies together. The two divorced in 1974. They then reconciled and remarried in 1975. They divorced again the following year.

Broadway[change | edit source]

Burton also appeared on Broadway in the musical Camelot and the play Hamlet directed by John Gielgud. He appeared on television in 1960 as Caliban in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of The Tempest with Claire Bloom and Maurice Evans. He also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with Julie Andrews to sing "What Do the Simple Folk Do?" from Camelot. This appearance boosted ticket sales for the stalled musical.

Marriage and family[change | edit source]

Burton married Sybil Williams in 1949, with whom he had two daughters. After his divorce from Elizabeth Taylor, he married Suzy Hunt in 1976. This marriage also ended in divorce. He then married Sally Hay in 1983.

Personal life[change | edit source]

He was awarded the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Elizabeth II in 1970.

Death[change | edit source]

He died at his home in Céligny, Switzerland, on 5 August 1984, from a cerebral haemorrhage.

Selected movies[change | edit source]

  • The Last Days of Dolwyn (1949, first movie)
  • My Cousin Rachel (1952, 1st Oscar nomination)
  • The Robe (1953, 2nd Oscar nomination)
  • Alexander the Great (1956)
  • Cleopatra (1963)
  • Becket (1964, 3rd Oscar nomination)
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966, 4th Oscar nomination)
  • The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1966, 5th Oscar nomination)
  • The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
  • Where Eagles Dare (1968)
  • Anne of the Thousand Days (1969, 6th Oscar nomination)
  • Raid on Rommel (1971)
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
  • Equus (1977, 7th and last Oscar nomination)
  • Nineteen-Eighty-Four (1984, last movie)

References[change | edit source]

Other websites[change | edit source]