Richard Burton
Welsh actor
Richard Burton
Richard Walter Jenkins, better known as Richard Burton, CBE was a Welsh actor. He was nominated seven times for an Academy Award - for My Cousin Rachel, The Robe (1953), Becket (1964), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) and Equus (1977) - six of which were for Best Actor in a Leading Role, without ever winning. He was a recipient of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Tony Awards for Best Actor.
Biography
Richard Burton's personal information overview.
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Popular photos of Richard Burton
News
News abour Richard Burton from around the web
Arrington, AOL Launch $20M CrunchFund to Fund Firms TechCrunch Covers - PC Magazine
Google News - over 5 years
The site is registered to Richard Burton of Jersey City. Rumors of the CrunchFund first broke in July, when blogger and investor Jason Calacanis tweetedthat he heard that Arrington had launched a venture-capital fund. The industry and Silicon Valley
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Patriots fall to Polk in home opener - Ocala
Google News - over 5 years
The College of Central Florida volleyball team couldn't sustain the momentum it gained from this past weekend's strong start in its inaugural home match against Polk State on Wednesday night. The Eagles downed the Patriots 26-24,
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Trinity Catholic downs Belleview - Ocala
Google News - over 5 years
BELLEVIEW — Once Trinity Catholic's volleyball team got rolling Tuesday against host Belleview, the Celtics were hard to stop. The Celtics (1-1) picked up a match-changing win in Game 2 on their way to a 22-25, 30-28, 25-21,
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Owen captures City of Ocala Amateur Championship - Ocala
Google News - over 5 years
Daniel Owen made sure there would be no last-hole fireworks this time around at the Bo Williams City of Ocala Amateur Championship Golf Tournament. Owen put together his second straight stellar performance of the tournament with a
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ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: When Christine Ebersole Met Richard Burton - Playbill.com
Google News - over 5 years
When she was at the very end of her run, she was asked to audition to play Guinevere opposite Richard Burton because the production had fired the leading lady. Old school-style, she auditioned at a Broadway theatre and while she was reading the scene
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Vicky Tiel’s 40-Year Career in Fashion
NYTimes - over 5 years
IF you are famous for dressed-to-spill goddess gowns beloved by women like Joan Collins and Halle Berry — steel stays radiating pitilessly from the diaphragm — then deciding what to wear to pick up a reporter at a train station in upstate New York might pose a challenge. The designer Vicky Tiel, who is 67 and barely 5-foot-2, met it
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ON THE RUNWAY; From Spies to Brides
NYTimes - over 5 years
TWO years ago everybody seemed to be making a movie about the fashion world. Now they're writing a book. Three biographies of Coco Chanel are coming out, in case you've never heard of the lady from the Rue Cambon. There are also a number of designer monographs, quirky memoirs and elegant surveys from magazine archives. It's a huge season for
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The art of being Burton the VIP - The Age
Google News - over 5 years
Unbeknown to those who may have glimpsed her fashionable frame, she is the widow of actor Richard Burton and moved from London to Perth in 2005. When in Melbourne, she embraces our restaurant and bar scene, visiting Madame Brussels, the Siglo Bar and
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DVD; Desert Tales, Centuries Apart
NYTimes - over 5 years
The Egyptian It must have seemed to Michael Curtiz that he was returning to Square 1 when he was assigned to direct ''The Egyptian,'' the 1954 historical spectacular that 20th Century Fox intended as a showcase for the studio's new and improved CinemaScope process. This Hungarian director, born Mano Kertesz Kaminer, was beckoned to Hollywood by
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The Globe and Mail - Globe and Mail
Google News - over 5 years
... of absorbing extracts from a panoply of travel writers, among them Marco Polo, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, Evelyn Waugh, Ernest Hemingway, Jan Morris, Rebecca West, TE Lawrence, Sir Richard Burton, Bruce Chatwin, John Steinbeck, Freya Stark
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$9 whooping cough vaccine in Placer County - Rocklin and Roseville Today
Google News - over 5 years
"The best way to get the pertussis vaccine, called 'Tdap', is through your family's health care provider since they can also provide any other needed vaccines and care," said Dr. Richard Burton, Placer County Health Officer. "However, the new school
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Going for a Burton - Sofia Echo
Google News - over 5 years
I remember turning on the news and the BBC bulletin led by slowly unveiling the face of Richard Burton, dead at 58 from a cerebral haemorrhage. His premature death followed a lifetime of great performances but also a long period of well publicised
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Richard Burton
    FIFTIES
  • 1984
    Age 58
    Burton died at age 58 from a brain haemorrhage on 5 August 1984 at his home in Céligny, Switzerland, and is buried there.
    More Details Hide Details Although his death was sudden, his health had been declining for several years, and he suffered from constant and severe neck pain. He had been warned that his liver was enlarged as early as March 1970, and had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and kidney disease in April 1981. Burton was buried in a red suit, a tribute to his Welsh roots, and with a copy of Dylan Thomas' poems. He and Taylor had discussed being buried together; his widow Sally purchased the plot next to Burton's and erected a large headstone across both, presumably to prevent Taylor from being buried there. For his contributions to cinema, Burton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6336 Hollywood Boulevard. For his contributions to theater, Burton was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. Selected works, based on award nominations
  • 1983
    Age 57
    From 1983 until his death in 1984, Burton was married to make-up artist Sally Hay.
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  • 1976
    Age 50
    Burton courted further controversy in 1976 when he wrote an unsolicited article for The Observer about his friend and fellow Welsh thespian Stanley Baker, who had recently died from pneumonia at the age of 48; the article upset Baker's widow with its depiction of her late husband as an uncultured womaniser.
    More Details Hide Details Melvyn Bragg, in the notes of his Richard Burton: A Life, says that Burton told Laurence Olivier around 1970 of his own (unfulfilled) plans to make his own film of Macbeth with Elizabeth Taylor, knowing that this would hurt Olivier because he had failed to gain funding for his own cherished film version more than a decade earlier. On his religious views, Burton was an atheist, stating, "I wish I could believe in a God of some kind but I simply cannot."
    In August 1976, a month after his second divorce from Taylor, Burton married model Suzy Miller, the former wife of Formula 1 Champion James Hunt; the marriage ended in divorce in 1982.
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    In 1976, Burton received a Grammy Award in the category of Best Recording for Children for his narration of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
    More Details Hide Details He also found success in 1978, when he narrated Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. His distinctive performance became a necessary part of the concept album – so much so that a hologram of Burton was used to narrate the live stage show (touring in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010) of the musical. In 2011, however, Liam Neeson was cast in the part for a "New Generation" rerecording, and subsequently also replaced Burton as the hologram character in the stage show. Burton had an international box-office hit with The Wild Geese (1978), an adventure tale about mercenaries in Africa. The film was a success in the UK and Europe but had only limited distribution in the U.S. owing to the collapse of the studio that funded it and the lack of an American star in the movie. He returned to films with The Medusa Touch (1978), Circle of Two (1980), and the title role in Wagner (1983), a role he said he was born to play, after his success in Equus. His last film performance, as O'Brien in Nineteen Eighty-Four, was critically acclaimed, though he was not the first choice for the part. According to the film's director, Michael Radford, Paul Scofield was originally contracted to play the part, but had to withdraw due to a broken leg, then Sean Connery, Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger were all approached before Burton was cast.
  • FORTIES
  • 1974
    Age 48
    How much of this was due to his intake of alcohol is impossible to ascertain, according to Bragg, because of Burton's reluctance to be treated for alcohol addiction; however, in 1974, Burton spent six weeks in a clinic to recuperate from a period during which he had been drinking three bottles of vodka a day.
    More Details Hide Details He was also a chain smoker, with an intake of between three and five packs a day for most of his adult life. Health issues continued to plague him until his death of a stroke at the age of 58.
    Burton was an alcoholic who reportedly nearly died in 1974 from an excess of drinking.
    More Details Hide Details According to biographer Robert Sellers, "At the height of his boozing in the mid-70s he was knocking back three to four bottles of hard liquor a day." After drinking himself nearly to death during the shooting of The Klansman (1974), Burton was dried out at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Burton allegedly was so inebriated while making the picture that many of his scenes had to be filmed with him sitting or lying down due to his inability to stand. In some scenes, he appears to slur his words or speak incoherently. According to his own diaries, subsequently he used Antabuse to try to stop his excessive drinking, which he blamed for wrecking his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor. Burton himself said of the time leading up to his near loss of life, "I was fairly sloshed for five years. I was up there with John Barrymore and Robert Newton. The ghosts of them were looking over my shoulder."
  • 1973
    Age 47
    In 1973 Burton agreed to play Josip Broz Tito in a film biography, since he admired the Yugoslav leader.
    More Details Hide Details While filming in Yugoslavia he publicly proclaimed that he was a communist, saying he felt no contradiction between earning vast sums of money for films and holding left-wing views since "unlike capitalists, I don't exploit other people."
    His younger brother Graham Jenkins opined it may have been guilt over this that caused Burton to start drinking very heavily, particularly after Ifor died in 1973.
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  • 1970
    Age 44
    In 1970, on his 45th birthday, Burton was ceremonially honoured with a CBE at Buckingham Palace; Taylor and Cis were present during the ceremony.
    More Details Hide Details He attributed to not having a knighthood due to changing his residence from London to Celigny so as to escape taxes. From the 1970s, after his completion of Anne of the Thousand Days, Burton began to work in mediocre films, which hurt his career. This was partly due to the Burtons' extravagant spending, his increasing addiction to alcohol, and that he didn't "find any worthy material that is pertinent to our times." He recognised his financial need to do so, and that in the New Hollywood era of cinema, neither he nor Taylor would be paid as well as at the height of their stardom. Some of the films he made during this period included Bluebeard (1972), Hammersmith Is Out (1972), The Klansman (1974), and Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). His last film with Taylor was the two-part melodrama Divorce His, Divorce Hers (1973). He did enjoy one major critical success in the 1970s in the film version of his stage hit Equus, winning the Golden Globe Award as well as an Academy Award nomination. Public sentiment towards his perennial frustration at not winning an Oscar made many pundits consider him the favourite to finally win the award, but on Oscar Night he lost to Richard Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl.
  • 1969
    Age 43
    In 1969, Burton enjoyed a commercial blockbuster with Clint Eastwood in the World War II action film Where Eagles Dare; he received a $1 million fee plus a share of the film's box office gross.
    More Details Hide Details According to his daughter Kate Burton, “He did that one for us kids, because we kept asking him, ‘Can you do a fun movie that we can go see?’" Eastwood thought the script "terrible" and was "all exposition and complications". He requested the film's producer Elliott Kastner and its screenwriter Alistair MacLean to be given less dialogue, later remarking “I just stood around firing my machine gun while Burton handled the dialogue.” Burton enjoyed working with Eastwood and said in the picture that he “did all the talking and Eastwood did all the killing.” Burton's last film of the decade, Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) for which he was paid $1.25 million, was commercially successful but received mixed opinions from reviewers. Noted British film critic Tom Milne of Time Out magazine believed that Burton "plays throughout on a monotonous note of bluff ferocity". Conversely, Vincent Canby of The New York Times appreciated Burton's portrayal of the English monarch, noting that he "is in excellent form and voice—funny, loutish and sometimes wise." Anne of the Thousand Days received ten nominations at the 42nd Academy Awards, including one for Burton's performance as Henry VIII of England, which many thought to be largely the result of an expensive advertising campaign by Universal Studios; The same year, Staircase in which he and his "Cleopatra" co-star Rex Harrison appeared as a bickering homosexual couple, received negative reviews and was unsuccessful.
  • 1967
    Age 41
    By the end of 1967, the combined box office gross of films Burton and Taylor had acted till then reached $200 million.
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    The film marked the beginning of a series of collaborations with Taylor, in addition to making Burton one of the Top 10 box office draws until 1967.
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  • 1966
    Age 40
    Later collaborations from the Burtons like The Comedians (1967), which was based on Graham Greene's 1966 novel of the same name, and the Tennessee Williams adaptation Boom! (1968) were critical and commercial failures.
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    He made another quick collaboration with Zeffirelli by narrating the documentary, Florence: Days of Destruction, which was about the 1966 flood of the Arno that devastated the city of Florence, Italy; the film raised $20 million for the flood relief efforts.
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    Burton and Taylor next performed a 1966 Oxford Playhouse adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus; the couple did the play to benefit the Oxford University Dramatic Society and as a token of Burton's gratitude to Nevill Coghill.
    More Details Hide Details Burton starred as the titular character, Doctor Faustus while Taylor essayed her first stage role as Helen of Troy, a non-speaking part. The play received negative opinions but Burton's and Taylor's performances were reviewed constructively. Irving Wardle of The Times called it "University drama at its worst" while the American newspaper columnist John Crosby, in his review for The Observer, lauded Burton's speech where he asks God to be merciful, stating that "It takes a great actor to deliver that speech without wringing a strangled sob of laughter out of one. But Burton did it." The play nevertheless made $22,000 dollars, which Coghill was happy with. Doctor Faustus was adapted for the screen the following year by both Burton and Coghill, leading to the former making his directorial debut. Burton also co-produced the film with Taylor and Coghill; it was critically panned and became a box office failure. The couple's next collaboration was Franco Zeffirelli's lively version of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew (1967). The film was a challenge for Burton, who had to chase Taylor on rooftops noting that he was "permitted to do extreme physical things that wouldn't have been allowed with any other actress." Zeffirelli recalled that Taylor, who had no prior experience of performing Shakespeare's plays, "gave the more interesting performance because she invented the part from scratch." On Burton, the director felt he was, to an extent, "affected by his knowledge of the classics".
    In 1966, Burton and Taylor enjoyed their greatest on-screen success in Mike Nichols's film version of Edward Albee's black comedy play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, in which a bitter erudite couple trade vicious barbs in front of their guests, Nick (George Segal) and Honey (Sandy Dennis).
    More Details Hide Details Burton wanted Taylor for the character of Martha so as "to stop everyone else from playing it." He didn't want anyone else to do it as he thought it could be for Elizabeth what Hamlet was for him. Burton was not the first choice for the role of George. Jack Lemmon was offered the role first, but when he turned it down, Warner Bros. president Jack L. Warner, with Taylor's insistence, agreed on Burton and paid him $750,000. It was also on Taylor's request that Nichols was hired to helm the project, despite having never directed a film before at that time. Albee preferred Bette Davis and James Mason for Martha and George respectively, fearing that the Burtons' strong screen presence would dominate the film; it instead proved to be what Alpert described as "the summit of both Richard's and Elizabeth's careers."
  • THIRTIES
  • 1964
    Age 38
    After Hamlet came to a close in August 1964, Burton and Taylor continued making films together.
    More Details Hide Details The first film after their marriage, The Sandpiper, was poorly received but still became a commercially successful venture. According to Bragg, the films they made during the mid-1960s contained a lot of innuendos that referred directly to their private lives. Burton went on to star opposite Claire Bloom and Oskar Werner in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), a Cold War espionage about a British Intelligence agent Alec Leamas (Burton), who is sent to East Germany on a mission to find an expose a mole working within his organisation for an East German Intelligence officer, Hans-Dieter Mundt (Peter van Eyck). Martin Ritt, the film's director and producer, wanted Burton's character to exhibit more anonymity, which meant no display of eloquent speeches or intense emotional moments. Bragg believed this decision caused worry for Burton, as he had generated his reputation as an actor with those exact traits, and wondered how the film's results would turn out. Ritt, a non-drinker, was displeased with Burton's drinking habits as he felt it "lacked a certain discipline" and expected the same level of commitment from him as everyone else during filming. In spite of their differences, Alpert notes that the film transpired well. Based on the 1963 novel of the same name by John le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold garnered positive reviews, with Fernando F. Croce of Slant Magazine describing Burton's performance as more of "tragic patsy than swashbuckler" and believed his scenes with Werner "have sharp doses of suspicion, cynicism and sadness."
    He was married twice, consecutively, to actress Elizabeth Taylor, from 15 March 1964 to 26 June 1974 and from 10 October 1975 to 29 July 1976.
    More Details Hide Details Their first wedding was at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal. Ever optimistic, Taylor proclaimed, "I'm so happy you can't believe it. This marriage will last forever". Their second wedding occurred, 16 months after their divorce, in Chobe National Park in Botswana. In 1964, the couple adopted a daughter from Germany, Maria Burton (born 1 August 1961). Burton adopted Taylor's daughter by the late producer Mike Todd, Elizabeth Frances "Liza" Todd Burton (born 6 August 1957). The relationship Burton and Taylor portrayed in the film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was popularly likened to their real-life marriage. Burton disagreed with others about Taylor's famed beauty, saying that calling her "the most beautiful woman in the world is absolute nonsense. She has wonderful eyes, but she has a double chin and an overdeveloped chest, and she's rather short in the leg."
    Gielgud agreed and soon production began in January 1964 after Burton had completed his work in Becket and The Night of the Iguana.
    More Details Hide Details Taking into account Burton's dislike for wearing period clothing as well as fellow actor Harley Granville-Barker’s notion that the play was best approached as a “permanent rehearsal”, Gielgud decided for Hamlet to be performed in a 'rehearsal' version with an incomplete set and the actors can wear their own clothes. Unaccustomed to the freedom of wearing their own clothes to perform on stage, the cast members found it hard to select the appropriate clothes and wore different attire day by day. After the first performance in Toronto, Gielgud decreed that the actors must wear capes as he felt it "lacked colour". In addition to being the play's director, Gielgud appeared as the Ghost of Hamlet's father. According to Gielgud's biographer Jonathan Croall, Burton's basic reading of Hamlet was "a much more vigorous, extrovert" version of Gielgud's own performance in 1936. Burton varied his interpretations of the character in later performances; he even tried a homosexual Hamlet.
  • 1963
    Age 37
    Burton and Taylor divorced their spouses in April 1963 after completing The V.I.P.s; Taylor subsequently took a two-year hiatus from films until her next venture with Burton, The Sandpiper (1965).
    More Details Hide Details The supercouple, now dubbed "Liz and Dick" by the press, continued starring together in films in the mid-1960s, earning a combined $88 million over the next decade and spending $65 million of them. Regarding their earnings, Burton, in a 1976 interview with Lester David and Jhan Robbins of The Ledger, stated that "they say we generate more business activity than one of the smaller African nations" and that the couple "often outspent" the Greek business tycoon Aristotle Onassis. In 1964, Burton portrayed Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was martyred by Henry II of England, in the film adaptation of Jean Anouilh's historical play Becket.
    During the production of Becket, Burton went to watch Gielgud perform in the 1963 stage adaptation of Thornton Wilder's 1948 novel, The Ides of March.
    More Details Hide Details There he was confronted by Gielgud who asked what Burton planned to do as a part of the celebration of Shakespeare's quatercentenary. Burton told him he was approached by theatrical producer Alexander H. Cohen to do Hamlet in New York City. Burton had accepted Cohen's offer under the condition that Gielgud would direct it, which he convened to him.
  • 1962
    Age 36
    In 1962, Burton appeared as Officer David Campbell, an RAF fighter pilot in The Longest Day, which included a large ensemble cast featuring McDowall, George Segal, Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Mel Ferrer, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger and Sean Connery.
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  • 1961
    Age 35
    After performing Camelot for six months, in July 1961, Burton was met by producer Walter Wanger to replace Stephen Boyd as Mark Antony in director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's magnum opus Cleopatra.
    More Details Hide Details Burton was paid $250,000 for four months work in the film. The gigantic scale of the film's troubled production, Taylor's bouts of illness and fluctuating weight, Burton's off-screen relationship with the actress for which he gave the sardonic nickname "Le Scandale"—all generated enormous publicity; Life magazine proclaimed it the "Most Talked About Movie Ever Made". Fox's future appeared to hinge on what became the most expensive movie ever made until then, reaching almost $40 million. During filming, Burton met and fell in love with Elizabeth Taylor, who was then married to Eddie Fisher. According to Alpert, at their first meeting on the set while posing for their publicity photographs, Burton said, "Has anyone ever told you that you're a very pretty girl?" Taylor later recalled, "I said to myself, Oy gevalt, here's the great lover, the great wit, the great intellectual of Wales, and he comes out with a line like that." Bragg contradicts Alpert by pointing out that Burton could not stand Taylor at first, calling her "Miss Tits" and opined to Mankiewicz, "I expect she shaves"; he saw her simply as another celebrity with no acting talent. All that changed when in their first scene together, Burton was shaky and forgot his lines, and she soothed and helped him; it was at this instance, according to Taylor, that she fell for him. Soon the affair began in earnest; both Fisher and Sybil were unable to bear it.
  • 1960
    Age 34
    Burton made a triumphant return to the stage with Moss Hart's 1960 Broadway production of Camelot as King Arthur.
    More Details Hide Details The play, written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, had Julie Andrews fresh from her triumph in My Fair Lady playing Guinevere, and Robert Goulet as Lancelot completing the love triangle. Roddy McDowall played the villainous Mordred. Hart first came up with the proposal to Burton after learning from Lerner about his ability to sing. Burton consulted Olivier on whether he should take the role, which came with a stipend of $4,000 a week. Olivier pointed out his salary was good and that he can carry on with accepting the offer. The production was troubled, with both Loewe and Hart falling ill and the pressure building up due to great expectations and huge advance sales. The show's running time was nearly five hours. Burton's intense preparation and competitive desire to succeed served him well. He immediately drafted Philip, who revised the musical's script and cut its running time to three hours while also incorporating three new songs. Burton was generous and supportive to everyone throughout the production and coached the understudies himself. According to Lerner, "he kept the boat from rocking, and Camelot might never have reached New York if it hadn't been for him." Burton's reviews were excellent, with the critic from Time magazine observing that Richard "gives Arthur the skilful and vastly appealing performance that might be expected from one of England's finest young actors." Broadway theatre reviewer Walter Kerr noted Richard's syllables, "sing, the account of his wrestling the stone from the sword becomes a bravura passage of house-hushing brilliance" and complemented his duets with Andrews, finding Burton's rendition to possess "a sly and fretful and mocking accent to take care of the without destroying the man."
    In 1960, Burton appeared in two films for Warner Bros., neither of which were successful: The Bramble Bush which reunited him with his Wuthering Heights director Petrie, and Vincent Sherman's adaptation of Edna Ferber's Ice Palace.
    More Details Hide Details Burton called the latter a "piece of shit". He received a fee of $125,000 for both films. While completing his parts for both pictures, Sybil gave birth to their second child, Jessica Burton. Burton's next appearance was as the stammering secularist, George Holyoake in BBC's documentary-style television adaptation of John Osborne's A Subject of Scandal and Concern. According to Osborne's biographer Luc Gilleman, the film garnered little attention. Burton returned to the United States for filming John Frankenheimer's television adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's The Fifth Column. He also provided narration for 26 episodes of The Valiant Years, a series by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) based on Winston Churchill’s memoirs.
  • 1958
    Age 32
    The film, directed by Daniel Petrie, aired on 9 May 1958 on CBS with Burton garnering plaudits from both the critics and Philip, who thought he was "magnificent" in it.
    More Details Hide Details Burton next featured as Jimmy Porter, "an angry young man" role, in the film version of John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (1959), a gritty drama about middle-class life in the British Midlands, directed by Tony Richardson, again with Claire Bloom as co-star. Biographer Bragg observed that Look Back in Anger "had defined a generation, provided a watershed in Britain's view of itself and brought Osborne into the public prints as a controversial, dangerous figure." Burton was able to identify himself with Porter, finding it "fascinating to find a man who came presumably from my sort of class, who actually could talk the way I would like to talk." The film and Burton's performance received mixed reviews upon release. Biographer Alpert noted that though reviews in the UK were favourable, those in the United States were more negative. Crowther wrote of Burton: "His tirades are eloquent but tiring, his breast beatings are dramatic but dull and his occasional lapses into sadness are pathetic but endurable." Both Geoff Andrew of Time Out magazine and Schwartz felt Burton was too old for the part, and the Variety reviewer thought "the role gives him little opportunity for variety." Contemporary reviews for the film have been better and it has a rating of 89% on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. Look Back in Anger is now considered one of the defining films of the British New Wave cinema, a movement from the late 1950s to the late 1960s in which working-class characters became the focus of the film and conflict of social classes a central theme.
    In 1958, Burton appeared with Yvonne Furneaux in DuPont Show of the Month's 90-minute television adaptation of Emily Brontë's classic novel Wuthering Heights as Heathcliff.
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  • 1957
    Age 31
    It was on 10 September 1957, a day before he left for New York that Sybil gave birth to their first child, Kate Burton.
    More Details Hide Details Time Remembered was well received on its opening nights at Broadway's Morosco Theatre and also at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C.. The play went on to have a good run of 248 performances for six months. Burton received his first Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play nomination while Hayes won her second Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role as Burton's mother, The Duchess of Pont-Au-Bronc.
    By mid-1957, Burton had no further offers in his kitty.
    More Details Hide Details He could not return to the UK because of his self-imposed exile from taxation, and his fortunes in film were dwindling. It was then that film producer and screenwriter Milton Sperling offered Burton to star alongside Helen Hayes and Susan Strasberg in Patricia Moyes' adaptation of Jean Anoulih's play, Time Remembered (Léocadia in the original French version). Sensing an opportunity for a career resurgence, Burton readily agreed to do the role of Prince Albert, who falls in love with a milliner named Amanda (Strasberg).
    In turn, Burton declined to attend the funeral, when his father died from a cerebral haemorrhage in January 1957 at age 81.
    More Details Hide Details Burton admired and was inspired by the actor and dramatist Emlyn Williams. He employed his son, Brook Williams, as his personal assistant and adviser and he was given small roles in some of the films in which Burton starred. Burton was banned permanently from BBC productions in November 1974 for writing two newspaper articles questioning the sanity of Winston Churchill and others in power during World War II – Burton reported hating them "virulently" for the alleged promise to wipe out all Japanese people on the planet. The publication of these articles coincided with what would have been Churchill's centenary, and came after Burton had played him in a favourable light in A Walk with Destiny, with considerable help from the Churchill family. Politically Burton was a lifelong socialist, although he was never as heavily involved in politics as his close friend Stanley Baker. He admired Democratic Senator Robert F. Kennedy and once got into a sonnet-quoting contest with him.
  • 1956
    Age 30
    Henry V was followed by Benthall's adaptation of Othello in February 1956, where he alternated on successive openings between the roles of Othello and Iago with John Neville.
    More Details Hide Details As Othello, Burton received both praise for his dynamism and criticism with being less poetical with his dialogues, while he was acclaimed as Iago. Burton's stay at The Old Vic was cut short when he was approached by the Italian neorealist director Roberto Rossellini for Fox's Sea Wife (1957), a drama set in World War II about a nun and three men marooned on an island after the ship they travel on is torpedoed by a U-boat. Joan Collins, who played the nun, was his co-star. Burton's role was that of an RAF officer who develops romantic feelings for the nun. Rossellini was informed by Zanuck not to have any kissing scenes between Burton and Collins, which Rossellini found unnatural; this led to him walking out of the film and being replaced by Bob McNaught, one of the executive producers. According to Collins, Burton had a "take-the-money-and-run attitude" toward the film. Sea Wife was not a successful venture, with biographer Munn observing that his salary was the only positive feature that came from the film. Philip saw it and said he was "ashamed" that it added another insult to injury in Burton's career. After Sea Wife, Burton next appeared as the British Army Captain Jim Leith in Nicholas Ray's Bitter Victory (1957). Burton admired Ray's Rebel Without A Cause (1955) and was excited about working with him, but unfortunately, Bitter Victory tanked as well despite positive feedback.
    In January 1956, the free daily newspaper, London Evening Standard honoured Burton by presenting to him its Theatre Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Henry V. His success in and as Henry V led him to be called the "Welsh Wizard".
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1955
    Age 29
    Burton returned to The Old Vic to perform Henry V for a second time. The Benthall-directed production opened in December 1955 to glowing reviews and was a much-needed triumph for Burton.
    More Details Hide Details Tynan made it official by famously saying Burton was now "the next successor to Olivier". The reviewer from The Times began by pointing out the deficiencies in Burton's previous rendition of the character in 1951 before stating as quoted in Bragg's biography of Burton:
  • 1953
    Age 27
    On the poet's death on 9 November 1953, he wrote an essay about him and took the time to do a 1954 BBC Radio play on one of his final works, Under Milk Wood, where he voiced the First Voice in an all-Welsh cast.
    More Details Hide Details The entire cast of the radio play, including Burton, did their roles free of charge. Burton reprised his role in the play's 1972 film adaptation with Taylor. Burton was also involved in narrating Lindsay Anderson's short documentary film about The Royal School for the Deaf in Margate, Thursday's Children (1954). After The Old Vic season ended, Burton's contract with Fox required him to do three more films. The first was Prince of Players (1955), where he was cast as the 19th-century Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth, who was John Wilkes Booth's brother. Maggie McNamara played Edwin's wife, Mary Devlin Booth. Philip thought the script was "a disgrace" to Burton's name. The film's director Philip Dunne observed, "He hadn't mastered yet the tricks of the great movie stars, such as Gary Cooper, who knew them all. The personal magnetism Richard had on the sound stage didn't come through the camera." This was one aspect that troubled Richard throughout his career on celluloid. The film flopped at the box office and has since been described as "the first flop in CinemaScope". Crowther, however, lauded Burton's scenes where he performed Shakespeare plays such as Richard III.
    Alpert believed Burton's presence made the 1953–54 season of The Old Vic a commercial success.
    More Details Hide Details Burton was an ardent admirer of poet Dylan Thomas since his boyhood days.
    Notwithstanding, Burton began his thirty-nine week tenure at The Old Vic by rehearsing for Hamlet in July 1953, with Philip providing expert coaching on how to make Hamlet's character match Burton's dynamic acting style.
    More Details Hide Details Burton reunited with Bloom, who played Ophelia. Hamlet opened at the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh, Scotland on September 1953 as part of The Old Vic season during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The play and Burton's Hamlet were, on the whole, well received, with critics describing his interpretation of the character as "moody, virile and baleful" and that he had "dash, attack and verve". Burton's Hamlet was quite popular with the young audience, who came to watch the play in numbers as they were quite taken with the aggressiveness with which he portrayed the role. Burton also received appreciation from Winston Churchill. Gielgud was not too happy with Burton's Hamlet and asked him while both were backstage: "Shall I go ahead and wait until you're better? Burton picked up the hint and infused some of Gielgud's traits to his own in later performances as Hamlet. A greater success followed in the form of the Roman General Gaius Marcius Coriolanus in Coriolanus. Initially, Burton refused to play Coriolanus as he didn't like the character's initial disdain for the poor and the downtrodden. Michael Benthall, who was renowned for his association with Tyrone Guthrie in a previous production of Hamlet in 1944, sought Philip's help to entice Burton into accepting it. Philip convinced Burton by making him realise that it was Coriolanus' "lack of ambivalence" which made him an admirable character. Burton received even better reviews for Coriolanus than Hamlet.
    Zanuck threatened to force Burton into cutting the deal, but the duo managed to come to a compromise when Burton agreed to a less binding contract, also for seven years and seven films at $1 million, that would begin only after he returned from his stint at The Old Vic 1953–54 season.
    More Details Hide Details The incident spread like wildfire and his decision to walk out on a million dollar contract for a stipend of £150 a week at The Old Vic was met with both appreciation and surprise. Bragg believed Burton defied the studio system with this act when it would have been tantamount to unemployment for him. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper considered Burton's success in his first three films in Hollywood to be "the most exciting success story since Gregory Peck's contracts of ten years back". At a party held in Simmons' residence in Bel Air, Los Angeles to celebrate the success of The Robe, Burton met Elizabeth Taylor for the first time in his life. Taylor, who at the time was married to actor Michael Wilding and was pregnant with their first child, recalled her first impression of Burton being "rather full of himself. I seem to remember that he never stopped talking, and I had given him the cold fish eye." Hamlet was a challenge that both terrified and attracted him, as it was a role many of his peers in the British theatre had undertaken, including Gielgud and Olivier. He shared his anxiety with de Havilland whilst coming to terms with her. Bogart too, didn't make it easy for him when he retorted: "I never knew a man who played Hamlet who didn't die broke."
    Burton and Sybil became good friends with Mason and his wife Pamela Mason, and stayed at their residence until Burton returned home to the UK in June 1953 in order to play Prince Hamlet as a part of The Old Vic 1953–54 season.
    More Details Hide Details This was to be the first time in his career he took up the role. Burton's second and final film of the year was in the Biblical epic historical drama, The Robe, notable for being the first ever motion picture to be made in CinemaScope. He replaced Tyrone Power, who was originally cast in the role of Marcellus Gallio, a noble but decadent Roman military tribune in command of the detachment of Roman soldiers that were involved in crucifying Jesus Christ. Haunted by nightmares of the crucifixion, he is eventually led to his own conversion. Marcellus' Greek slave Demetrius (played by Victor Mature) guides him as a spiritual teacher, and his wife Diana (played by Jean Simmons) follows his lead. The film set a trend for Biblical epics such as Ben-Hur (1959). Based on Lloyd C. Douglas' 1942 historical novel of the same name, The Robe was well received at the time of its release, but contemporary reviews have been less favourable. The magazine Variety termed the performances of the lead cast "effective" and complemented the fight sequences between Burton and Jeff Morrow. Crowther believed that Burton was "stalwart, spirited and stern" as Marcellus. Among those who gave negative reviews were Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader who called The Robe a "pious claptrap", and Dennis Schwartz of Ozus' World Movie Reviews who wrote, "Burton is served a death sentence to be in such a turgid film, one that ranges from being creaky to silly to just plain vulgar."
    The year 1953 marked an important turning point in Burton's career.
    More Details Hide Details He arrived in Hollywood at a time when the studio system was struggling. Television's rise was drawing viewers away and the studios looked to new stars and new film technologies to tempt viewers back to cinemas. He first appeared in the war film The Desert Rats with James Mason, playing an English captain in the North African campaign during World War II who takes charge of a hopelessly out-numbered Australian unit against the indomitable German field marshal, Erwin Rommel, who was portrayed by Mason. The film received generally good reviews from critics in London, although they complained the British contribution to the campaign had been minimised. The critic from Variety magazine thought Burton was "excellent" while The New York Times reviewer noted his "electric portrayal of the hero" made the film look "more than a plain, cavalier apology."
  • 1951
    Age 25
    Based on the 1951 novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, My Cousin Rachel is about a man who suspects his rich cousin was murdered by his wife in order to inherit his wealth, but ends up falling in love with her, despite his suspicions.
    More Details Hide Details Upon release, the film was a decent grosser at the box office, and Burton's performance received mostly excellent reviews. Bosley Crowther, writing for The New York Times, appreciated Burton's emotional performance, describing it as "most fetching"; he called him "the perfect hero of Miss du Maurier's tale." The Los Angeles Daily News reviewer stated "young Burton registers with an intense performance that stamps him as an actor of great potential." Conversely, a critic from the Los Angeles Examiner labelled Burton as "terribly, terribly tweedy". The film earned Burton the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor and his first Academy Award nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category.
    His last play in 1951 was as a musician named Orphée in Jean Anouilh's Eurydice opposite Dorothy McGuire and fellow Welsh actor Hugh Griffith.
    More Details Hide Details The play, retitled as Legend of Lovers, opened in the Plymouth Theatre, New York City and ran only for a week, but critics were kind to Burton, with Bob Francis of Billboard magazine finding him "excellent as the self-tortured young accordionist". Burton began 1952 by starring alongside Noel Willman in the title role of Emmanuel Roblès adventure Montserrat, which opened on 8 April at the Lyric Hammersmith. The play only ran for six weeks but Burton once again won praises from critics. According to Bragg, some of the critics who watched the performance considered it to be Burton's "most convincing role" till then. Tynan lauded Burton's role of Captain Montserrat, noting that he played it "with a variousness which is amazing when you consider that it is really little more than a protracted exposition of smouldering dismay." Burton successfully made the transition to Hollywood when, on the recommendation of film director George Cukor, he was given the lead role in the Gothic romance film, My Cousin Rachel (1952) opposite Olivia de Havilland. Darryl F. Zanuck, co-founder of 20th Century Fox, negotiated a deal with Korda to loan Burton to the company for three films as well as pay Burton a total of $150,000 ($50,000 per film). De Havilland did not get along well with Burton during filming, calling him "a coarse-grained man with a coarse-grained charm and a talent not completely developed, and a coarse-grained which makes him not like anyone else."
    Both plays opened in 1951 at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon to mixed reviews, but Burton received acclaim for his role as Prince Hal.
    More Details Hide Details Many critics dubbed him "the next Laurence Olivier". Theatre critic and dramaturge, Kenneth Tynan said of his performance, "His playing of Prince Hal turned interested speculation to awe almost as soon as he started to speak; in the first intermission local critics stood agape in the lobbies." He was also praised by Humphrey Bogart and his wife Lauren Bacall after both witnessed the play. Bacall later said of him: "He was just marvellous Bogie loved him. We all did." Burton celebrated his success by buying his first car, a Standard Flying Fourteen and enjoyed a drink with Bogart at a pub called The Dirty Duck. Philip too was happy with the progress his ward made and that he felt "proud, humble, and awed by god's mysterious ways". Burton went on to do Henry V as the titular character, and played Ferdinand in The Tempest as a part of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre season as well. Both roles didn't go too well with critics, with a reviewer saying "he lacked inches" as Henry V. Olivier defended Burton by retaliating that he too received the same kind of review by the same critic for the same role.
  • 1949
    Age 23
    Burton was married five times and he had four children. From 1949 until their divorce in 1963, he was married to Welsh actress/producer Sybil Williams, with whom he had two daughters, Katherine "Kate" Burton (born 10 September 1957) and Jessica Burton (born 1959).
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    He lived there from 1949 to 1956.
    More Details Hide Details Pleased with the feedback Burton received for his performance in The Last Days of Dolwyn, the film's co-producer Alexander Korda offered him a contract at a stipend of £100 a week, which he signed. The contract enabled Korda to lend Burton to films produced by other companies. Throughout the late 40s and early 50s, Burton acted in small parts in various British films such as Now Barabbas (1949) with Richard Greene and Kathleen Harrison, The Woman with No Name (1950) opposite Phyllis Calvert, Waterfront (1950) with Kathleen Harrison again; he had a bigger part as Robert Hammond, a spy for a newspaper editor in Green Grow the Rushes (1951) alongside Honor Blackman. His performance in Now Barabbas received positive feedback from critics. C. A. Lejeune of The Observer believed Burton had "all the qualities of a leading man that the British film industry badly needs at this juncture: youth, good looks, a photogenic face, obviously alert intelligence and a trick of getting the maximum effort with the minimum of fuss." For The Woman With No Name, a critic from The New York Times thought Burton "merely adequate" in his role of the Norwegian aviator, Nick Chamerd. There was the true theatrical instinct. The play was directed by Glenville and starred the then up-and-coming actor Paul Scofield as the titular character. Glenville, however, rejected him as he felt that Burton was too short compared to Scofield.
    It was on the sets of this film where Burton was introduced by Williams to Sybil Williams, whom he married on 5 February 1949 at a register office in Kensington.
    More Details Hide Details The Last Days of Dolwyn opened to generally positive reviews from critics. Burton was praised for his "acting fire, manly bearing and good looks." Film critic Philip French of The Guardian called it an "impressive movie debut" from Burton. After marrying Sybil, Burton moved to his new address in 6 Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead NW3.
  • 1948
    Age 22
    In 1948, Burton moved to London to make contact with H. M. Tennent Ltd, where he again met Beaumont, who put Burton under a contract of £500 per year (£10 a week).
    More Details Hide Details Daphne Rye, the casting director for H. M. Tennent Ltd, offered Burton two rooms on the top floor of her house in Pelham Crescent, London as a place for him to stay. Rye cast Burton in a minor role as a young officer, Mr. Hicks, in Castle Anna (1948), a drama set in Ireland. While touring with the cast and crew members of Wynyard Browne's Dark Summer, Burton was called by Emlyn Williams for a screen test in his film, The Last Days of Dolwyn (1949). Burton performed the screen test for the role of Gareth, which Williams wrote especially for him, and was subsequently selected when Williams sent him a telegram which quoted a line from The Corn Is Green - "You have won the scholarship". This led to Burton making his mainstream film debut. Filming took place during the summer and early autumn months of 1948.
  • 1947
    Age 21
    Burton was discharged from the RAF on 16 December 1947.
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  • 1946
    Age 20
    Burton was cast in an uncredited and unnamed role of a bombing officer by BBC Third Programme in a 1946 radio adaptation of In Parenthesis, an epic poem of the First World War by David Jones.
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1944
    Age 18
    In late 1944, Burton successfully completed his six-month scholarship at Exeter college, Oxford, and went to the RAF classification examinations held in Torquay to train as a pilot.
    More Details Hide Details He was disqualified for pilot training due to his eyesight being below par, and was classified as a navigator trainee. He served the RAF as a navigator for three years, during which he performed an assignment as Aircraftman 1st Class in an RAF Hospital based in Wiltshire. Burton's habits of drinking and smoking increased during this period; he was involved in a brief casual affair with actress Eleanor Summerfield.
    During his tenure at Exeter college, Burton featured as "the complicated sex-driven puritan" Angelo in the Oxford University Dramatic Society's 1944 production of William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.
    More Details Hide Details The play was directed by Burton's English literature professor, Nevill Coghill, and was performed at the college in the presence of an audience of West End theatre luminaries such as John Gielgud, Terence Rattigan and Binkie Beaumont. On Burton's performance, fellow actor and friend, Robert Hardy recalled, "There were moments when he totally commanded the audience by this stillness. And the voice which would sing like a violin and with a bass that could shake the floor." Gielgud appreciated Burton's performance and Beaumont, who knew about Burton's work in The Druid's Rest, suggested that he "look him up" after completing his service in the RAF if he still wanted to pursue acting as a profession.
  • 1943
    Age 17
    In 1943, Burton played Professor Henry Higgins in a school production of another Shaw play directed by Philip, Pygmalion. The role won him favourable reviews and caught the attention of the dramatist, Emlyn Williams, who offered Burton a small role of the lead character's elder brother, Glan, in his play The Druid's Rest. The play debuted at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool on 22 November 1943 and later premiered in St Martin's Theatre, London in January 1944.
    More Details Hide Details Burton thought the role was "a nothing part" and that he "hardly spoke at all". He was paid ten pounds a week for playing the role, which was "three times what the miners got." Alpert states that the play garnered mixed reviews from critic, but James Redfern of the New Statesman took notice of Burton's performance and wrote "In a wretched part, Richard Burton showed exceptional ability." Burton noted that single sentence from Redfern changed his life.
    In autumn of 1943, Philip planned to adopt Richard, but was not able to do so as he was 20 days too young to be 21 years older than his ward, a legal requirement.
    More Details Hide Details As a result, Richard became Philip's legal ward and changed his surname to "Richard Burton", after Philip's own surname, by means of deed poll, which Richard's father accepted. It was also in 1943 that Richard qualified for admission into a University after excelling in the School Certificate Examination. Philip requested Richard to study at Exeter College, Oxford as a part of a six-month scholarship program offered by the RAF for qualified cadets prior to active service.
  • 1941
    Age 15
    He decided to leave school by the end of 1941 and work at as a miner as Elfed wasn't fit for work due to illness.
    More Details Hide Details He worked for the local wartime Co-operative committee, handing out supplies in exchange for coupons. He also simultaneously considered other professions for his future, including boxing, religion and singing. We had a live audience of one, Richard's wife, Elizabeth Taylor. One of the questions aimed at me was, "How did you come to adopt him?" Richard jumped in with "He didn't adopt me; I adopted him." There was much truth in that. He also joined the Taibach Youth Center, a youth drama group founded by Meredith Jones and led by Leo Lloyd, a steel worker and avid amateur thespian, who taught him the fundamentals of acting. Richard played the role of an escaped convict in Lloyd's play, The Bishop's Candlesticks, an adaptation of a section of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. The entire play did not have any dialogues, but Alpert noted that Richard "mimed his role". Philip gave him a part in a radio documentary/adaptation of his play for BBC Radio, Youth at the Helm (1942). Seeing the talent Richard possessed, both Jones and Philip re-admitted him to school on 5 October 1942. Philip called Richard "my son to all intents and purposes. I was committed to him." Philip tutored his charge intensely in school subjects, and also worked at developing the youth's acting voice, including outdoor voice drills which improved his projection. Richard called the experience "the most hardworking and painful period" in his life.
  • 1937
    Age 11
    From the age of five to eight, Richard had his education at the Eastern Primary School while he attended the Boys' segment of the same school from eight to twelve years old. He took a scholarship exam for admission into Port Talbot Secondary School in March 1937 and passed it.
    More Details Hide Details Biographer Hollis Alpert notes that both Daddy Ni and Ifor considered Richard's education to be "of paramount importance" and planned to send him to the University of Oxford. Richard became the first member of his family to go to secondary school. He displayed an excellent speaking and singing voice since childhood, even winning an eisteddfod prize as a boy soprano. During his tenure at Port Talbot Secondary School, Richard also showed immense interest in reading poetry as well as English and Welsh literature. He earned pocket money by running messages, hauling horse manure, and delivering newspapers. Bolstered by his winning of the eisteddfod prize, Richard wanted to repeat the success. He chose to sing Sir Arthur Sullivan's "Orpheus with his Lute" (1866), which biographer Alpert thought "a difficult composition". He requested the help of his schoolmaster, Philip Burton, but his voice cracked during their practice sessions. This incident marked the beginning of his association with Philip. Philip later recalled, "His voice was tough to begin with but with constant practice it became memorably beautiful." Richard made his first foray into theatre with a minor role in his school's production of the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw's The Apple Cart.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1925
    Born
    Richard Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins, Jr. on 10 November 1925 in his house at 2 Dan-y-bont in Pontrhydyfen, a small village located in the county borough of Neath Port Talbot, Wales.
    More Details Hide Details He was the twelfth of thirteen children born to his father, Richard Walter Jenkins Sr. (1876-1957), and his mother, Edith Maude Jenkins (née Thomas; 1883-1927). Jenkins Sr., called Daddy Ni by the family, was a coal-miner while his mother worked as a bartender at a pub called the Miner's Arms, which was also the place where she met and married her husband. According to biographer Melvyn Bragg, Richard is quoted saying that Daddy Ni was "twelve-pints-a-day man" who sometimes went off on drinking and gambling sprees for weeks, and that "he looked very much like me". He remembered his mother to be "a very strong woman" and "a religious soul with fair hair and a beautiful face". Richard was barely two years old when his mother died on 31 October, six days after the birth of the Jenkins family's thirteenth child, Graham Jenkins. The cause of Edith's death was because "of puerperal fever". which Richard termed "hygiene neglect". According to biographer Michael Munn, Edith "was fastidiously clean", but that her exposure to the dust from the coal mines resulted in her death. Following Edith's death, Richard's elder sister Cecilia, whom he affectionately addressed as "Cis", and her husband Elfed James, also a miner, took him under their care. Richard lived with Cis, Elfed and their two daughters, Marian and Rhianon, in their three bedroom terraced cottage on 73 Caradoc Street, Taibach, a suburban district in Port Talbot, which Bragg describes as "a tough steel town, English-speaking, grind and grime".
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