Richard Burton, CBE

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Richard Walter Jenkins, Jr

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Pontrhydyfen, Wales, UK
Death: Died in Celigny, Canton Geneva, Switzerland
Cause of death: cerebral hemmorage
Place of Burial: Vieux Cemetery, Celigny, Canton Geneva, Switzerland
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Walter Jenkins and Edith Maude Jenkins
Husband of <private> Burton (Hay)
Ex-husband of <private> (Millar); Sybil Williams and Dame Elizabeth Taylor
Father of <private> Ritchie (Burton); <private> Burton (Jenkins) and <private> Burton
Brother of Cecilia Jenkins and <private> Jenkins

Managed by: David William STEIN
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Richard Burton, CBE

Richard Burton, CBE (10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984) was a Welsh actor. He was nominated seven times for an Academy Award, six of which were for Best Actor in a Leading Role (without ever winning), and was a recipient of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Tony Awards for Best Actor. Although never trained as an actor, Burton was, at one time, the highest-paid actor in Hollywood. He remains closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor; the couple's turbulent relationship was rarely out of the news.

Born Richard Walter Jenkins Jr. to a Welsh miner, he never forgot his roots. He gained a reputation as one of the world's finest actors, and then was criticized for placing fame and money above art and dedication to his craft. Through the help of his schoolmaster, Philip Burton, young Richard Jenkins received a scholarship to Oxford University (later taking Burton's name as his own), and studied acting; along the way he developed a distinctive and beautiful speaking voice. He made his first stage appearance in 1943, but his career did not begin in earnest until after he left the British Navy in 1947.

The Last Days of Dolwyn (1948) provided young Burton his film debut, and he made a striking impression in a stage revival of "The Lady's Not for Burning" in 1949. When Burton came with the play to Broadway the following year, he registered solidly with American producers, and was chosen to play the male lead in My Cousin Rachel (1952), a Daphne du Maurier mystery. His success in that film led to a flurry of Hollywood activity in such pictures as The Robe (1953), The Rains of Ranchipur and Prince of Players (both 1955), but he did not set the box office on fire and subsequently spent much of his time on the stage both in Britain and in the U.S.

Burton starred in several respectable British films in the late 1950s, including Look Back in Anger (1959), but his elevation to superstardom began with his casting as King Arthur in the Broadway musical "Camelot" in 1960 (which won him a Tony Award), and his role as Marc Antony in the 1963 film version of Cleopatra A star-crossed production, it was begun and halted several times in several different countries with several different directors. During the making of the film, Burton and his costar Elizabeth Taylor carried on an affair, which led both to divorce their current mates-and become headline fodder around the world.

The Burton-Taylor team became hot box office, and although he played "Hamlet" on stage (which was also photographed for showing in movie theaters) and Becket in the movies (both 1964), he commanded the most audience attention in slick entertainments with his wife, such as The V.I.P.s (1963) and The Sandpiper (1965). Art and commerce found a common ground in the couple's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Taming of the Shrew (1967), but audiences grew restive with both his on-again, off-again relationship with Taylor, and the later films they did together:The Comedians (1967), Dr. Faustus, Boom! (both 1968), Hammersmith Is Out (1972), and the TV movie Divorce His-Divorce Hers (1973).

In fact, Burton became notorious for appearing in films-always for the money, which he never denied-that wasted his considerable talents, including Bluebeard (1972), The Voyage (1973), The Klansman (1974), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Medusa Touch (1978), Lovespell (1979), Absolution (1981, filmed in 1978), and Wagner (1983). Burton was honored seven times with Oscar nominations, as Best Supporting Actor for My Cousin Rachel (odd, since he was the male lead) and as best actor for The Robe, Becket, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), and Equus (1977), but he never won the gold statue.

His final work was in a well-received 1984 miniseries, "Ellis Island" (which featured his daughter, actress Kate Burton) and the impressive remake of1984 (1984). He wrote of his relationship with Taylor in the slim but charming volume "Meeting Mrs. Jenkins" (1966).

OTHER FILMS INCLUDE: 1951:Green Grow the Rushes 1956:Alexander the Great 1959:Bitter Victory 1962:The Longest Day 1964:The Night of the Iguana 1968:Candy 1969: Where Eagles Dare 1971:Raid on Rommel 1973:Massacre in Rome 1978:The Wild Geese 1980:Circle of Two

He was 5' 9½" (1.77 m) tall.

He was married five times:

    - Sally Hay (1983 - 5 August 1984) (his death)
    - Susan Hunt (1976 - 1982) (divorced)
    - E. Taylor (1975 - 1976) (remarried/redivorced)
    - E. Taylor (15 March 1964 - 1974) (divorced)
    - Sybil Williams (c. 1948 - 1963) (divorced)

Died of cerebral hemorrhage shortly after the filming of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) was completed, on the 5th August 1984 in Céligny, Geneva, Switzerland.

Burton died less than a week before he was due to begin shooting Wild Geese II, a sequel to his successful mercenary thriller The Wild Geese, made in 1978. He was the only actor returning for the film and, as Colonel Allen Faulkner, would have led a team of crack mercenaries to spring aged Nazi Rudolf Hess from Spandau Prison in Berlin. Burton's death caused huge problems for producer Euan Lloyd, the man behind the original Wild Geese and its follow-up. With the rest of the cast - Scott Glenn, Barbara Carrera and Laurence Olivier, playing Hess - in place, Lloyd had just a handful of days to find a replacement for Burton. He selected British actor Edward Fox, who joined the cast as Alex Faulkner, Burton's brother. Burton's no-show in the film was explained by one character telling Fox that they'd heard his famous warrior brother had died. The film was dedicated to Burton's memory. -------------------- Richard Burton was at one time the highest-paid actor in Hollywood. He remains closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor; the couple's turbulent relationship was rarely out of the news

Richard Burton, CBE (10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984) was a Welsh actor.

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Richard Burton, CBE's Timeline

1925
November 10, 1925
Pontrhydyfen, Wales, UK
1973
1973
- 1974
Age 47
Croatia
1975
October 10, 1975
Age 49
Botswana
1976
August 1, 1976
Age 50
Haiti
August 21, 1976
Age 50
Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, United States
1984
August 5, 1984
Age 58
Celigny, Canton Geneva, Switzerland

<The Times, August 6, 1984>

RICHARD BURTON

Mr Richard Burton, CBE, who has died at the age of 58, was an actor
who began his career as a performer of fine promise on the classical
stage and progressed to become an international star, the details of
whose private life came, alas, to command almost more attention than
his very great gifts.

Richard Burton was born in Ponrhydfen, a mining village in South
Wales, on November 10, 1925. He was educated at Port Talbot Secondary
School and Exeter College, Oxford, but he spent a year between the end
of his school life and the beginning of his brief university career on
the stage.

He first acted in public in November, 1943, as Glan in Emlyn
Williams's "The Druid's Rest" at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool
and then, in January, 1944, at the St. Martin's Theatre, in London.
After three months of the play's London run, he relinquished his part
to go up to Oxford, where his stay was cut short by National Service,
which occupied him until 1947.

He found time while at University to achieve an impressive performance
as Angelo in "Measure for Measure", the OUDS production of 1944.

In less than ten years after his return to the stage he had built up
not only a great reputation but also a power and authority which made
it seem that he was destined for the commanding heights of his
profession in spite of occasional forays into the cinema.

In February, 1948, he appeared as Mr Hicks in "Castle Anna", but moved
from that into his first film, "The Last Days of Dolwen". During 1949
and 1950 he was seen in the then excitingly original plays of
Christopher Fry, as Richard in "The Lady's Not for Burning", Cuthmen
in "The Boy with a Cart" and Tegeus in a "Phoenix too Frequent". "The
Lady's Not for Burning" took him to his first appearance in New York,
when its run ended he stayed there to play in "Legend of Lovers". Back
in London in 1952, he played the title role in "Montserrat" at the
Lyric, Hammersmith, and then joined the Old Vic Company for the season
of 1953 and 1954 in what can perhaps justly be remembered as the last
of the Old Vic golden ages before the creation of the National Theatre
Company.

With John Neville, an actor of equal force and intelligence but
entirely different in temperament, he alternated the roles of Othello
and Iago. In London and at the Edinburgh Festival he was seen as
Hamlet, incisively intelligent, richly emotional though hardly
irresolute. The bastard Philip Faulconbridge in "King John" was a role
which he fitted exactly, and his Coriolanus was acting of violence and
authority if hardly of patrician disdain. Sir Toby Belch offered him a
rare opportunity to show his gifts of humour, and his Caliban was both
ferocious and pathetic. His acting compared to John Neville's as a
sabre to a rapier; the two exactly complemented each other and won the
devotion of Old Vic audiences, particularly of a vociferously
appreciative gallery audience of young enthusiasts. Tempted to
Hollywood to be the Antony to Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra in the
spectacular film epic of "Cleopatra" (it seemed to his admirers that
Shakespeare's Antony could give him far more than a very luscious film
had to offer), he began to concentrate on film roles, working in the
theatre only intermittently.

In New York he was the King Arthur of the original production of
Lerner and Loew's "Camelot" in 1960, and in 1964 he played Hamlet in
Sir John Gielgud's controversial production of the play. The
production and Burton's acting both received a great deal of
attention, commentary and analysis; both were, the commentators
suggest, tensely exciting and moving, but both, apparently, were
visibly flawed.

Two years later, as an act of homage to Oxford, and the OUDS, both
Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, his second wife, played there in
Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus". His subsequent film of the play, based on
the Oxford production, failed altogether to do him justice,
sacrificing both his own performance and the play itself to visual
cliches of almost ineffable bad taste. The breakdown of Burton's first
marrriage, to Sybil Williams, and his subsequent marriage to Elizabeth
Taylor, had given the press of Great Britain and the United States a
modern romance of which the press made as much as it could, and the
luxury of their later life - the fruits of the success in the cinema,
was widely reported; they never for long managed to escape the public
eye. For all that, Burton kept a certain natural simplicity, an
obvious love of his native country and the people in the mining
village in which he had grown up. The partnership with Miss Taylor,
however, bore fruit in several films in which he discovered how to
project the force of his stage personality through the lens of a
camera, and if "Doctor Faustus" was a disaster and "The Taming of the
Shrew", directed by Franco Zefirelli, a colourful romp in which
neither Burton nor his wife was ideally cast, so that the best was not
made of Shakespeare's play, in the film of Edward Albee's "Who's
Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" the Burton-Taylor duet was powerful in
purely cinematic terms, sourly-comic in a way new to Burton's acting,
finely drawn and moving.

Without Taylor, Burton played the title role of "Becket" opposite
Peter O'Toole, was an unfrocked priest in "The Night of the Iguana"
and an intelligence agent in John Le Carre's "The Spy Who Came in from
the Cold". There were also film records of his by nnow rare stage
appearances, such as "Hamlet" directed by John Gielgud.

During the 1970s Burton seemed, professionally, to lose his way. He
was no longer able to hold out for huge salaries in the cinema and his
work was less distinguished. He settled for mainly routine adventure
films with, now and then something more challenging, such as playing
Trotsky for Joseph Losey or repeating his stage role as the
psychiatrist in Peter Shaffer's "Equus". There was sadness that his
talent was being under-used, not only in films but in the theatre,
where apart from "Equus" his only venture in more than ten years was
the musical, "Camelot".

Plans to play "King Lear" came to nothing. In 1977 he narrated a
26-part BBC radio series about British monarchs, produced to mark the
Queen's Silver Jubilee. His private life continued to fill the gossip
columns. His marriage to Elizabeth Taylor ended in separation and
divorce; they briefly remarried and divorced finally in 1976. IN the
same year he married his fourth wife, Mrs Susan Hunt, former wife of
the racing driver James Hunt, a marriage which also ended in divorce.

From the mid 1970s, his career was, threatened by a serious - and
admitted - drinking problem. He married fifthly in 1983, Sally Hay.
For all that, and for his appearance in many films where, without Miss
Taylor, he played no less effectively than he did in the duet which
seems to be the high-point of his art as a film actor, it is not
possible to think of Richard Burton except as a bitter loss which the
theatre sustained when it could ill-afford to lose an actor of
presence, personality and controlled energy. At a time when he was
still developing unusual natural gifts, he all but abandoned the
stage. Like Olivier an extrovert actor, brilliant in technique and
with an apparently infallible instinct for theatrical effect, he never
reached the summit of what promised to be a great stage career.

Like many highly intelligent actors, he had a rooted distrust as well
as love of the stage, and by the 1950s he was ready from time to time
to discuss in public the possibility of a future career in which
acting played no part; in 1969, for example, he talked of settling for
some time to teach in Oxford with a temporary fellowship. But for all
that he will be remembered as a stage actor physically and
temperamentally built for great heroic and tragic roles, with the
vocal range and colour (as a number of gramophone records testify)
such roles demand. Together with these went a swift stage
intelligence. What he achieved was both moving and powerful; it
promised an unachieved greatness which must always be lamented.

END