Richard writes of his love for Elizabeth in this 1968 diary entry: “I miss her if she goes to the bathroom.”
By Harvey Sid Fisher
Hollywood, CA (Hollywood Today)11/25/12/–Lifetime Network’s World Premiere Event Sunday, November 25 at 9.8c LIZ & DICK, the union of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Richard wrote a diary since he was fifteen years old. He skipped many years of entries but the result was still a big Fat 600 page tome in his own hand. (I am only up to page 200 circa 1968)
The publishing of the book was assisted with the grace of the government of Wales to honor their famous son. It will be interesting to see how the movie compares to the truth of his diary and what particular aspects and episodes were selected to biograph his life with Liz.
On Elizabeth Taylor): “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.”
In his diary, Richard and Elizabeth loved, drank, ate, worked, played Fought and bought; cars, houses, clothes, gifts, jewelry, yacht and plane. His insults would be devastating and uncontrolled. He had a temper when drunk and A conscience when sober. Elizabeth could also speak her mind.
Richard was not a fan of fans and he hated to be touched. His assessment of some celebrities were brutally descriptive: Rex Harrison’s wife, was an out of control drunk who belittled and embarrassed all and every. One time at the bar on the Burton’s yacht she was drunk on the floor trying to masturbate the dog. John Huston thought himself smarter than he really was. Eddie Fisher was not a nice person and was spoken of with contempt. Elizabeth regretted marrying him.
If you peel off the patina of celebrity and think of Richard and Elizabeth as ordinary people you can identify their lives as containing the same recognizable mortal elements as John and Jane Doe:
They had to take care of feeding children. They encountered family tragedies and medical urgencies. They had bitter fights and would not talk to each other. They went to work like everybody else. And they loved like we all do or would like to.
THE RICHARD BURTON DIARIES
Edited by Chris Williams
Illustrated. 693 pages.
Yale University Press. .
Photos; Getty Images
LIZ & DICK
The archive of Richard Burton is a rich treasure. The performances are by common consent amongst the most compelling of any age, given in a voice that many have felt to be an aural equivalent of heaven. Hamlet, Under Milk Wood, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Equus stand out, and then there are the blockbusters: Wild Geese, Where Eagles Dare, Anthony and Cleopatra, Night of the Iguana and The Robe. Add to that the poetry readings – Dylan Thomas of course but also Shakespeare and the English Classics. It is a feast for the ears.
Yet it is a remarkable testament to the man and to his life that, just as magnetic as the body of work, is another collection. Through several periods of his life, most notably from the mid-1960s to the early ’70s (his ‘superstar years’) he kept a diary, sometimes handwritten, mostly typed out and assembled in thick notebooks. The diaries provide a unique view of the world in which he moved, among actors and directors, writers and poets, millionaires and royalty. They also give an insight into his approach to acting, his insecurities, his drinking and his volatile relationship with Elizabeth Taylor at a time when they were the most famous couple in the world.
Twenty-five years ago, shortly after Burton’s death, Melvyn Bragg was given access to the diaries to write his definitive biography of Burton, Rich. Now, to mark the publication of the complete diaries, Bragg presents an Archive on 4 which examines Burton’s life through broadcast interviews and the previously inaccessible lens of his diaries. Bragg returns to Burton to reassesses the man in the light of his own experience and in the light of the private and confessional thoughts that Burton wrote, alone, throughout his life.
Burton was the gifted son of a Welsh miner. He met a remarkable teacher and made the journey to Oxford and on to superstardom – but he was seldom really happy. He was a hellraiser who often behaved appallingly and was accused of squandering an extraordinary talent on drinking and bad movies. If that was all he was then he’d be just a footnote in 20th century culture. But Burton was also a man of wonderful erudition, passion, insight and self- knowledge. He fought his way through life through force of will, love, and voracious reading. It is this side of the man that makes him such a remarkable presence. It is also a side of him captured in a rich vein of BBC archive and interviews.
The diaries show him on top of the world, in love, in despair, and fighting the alcoholism that had killed his father and he knew was killing him. This programme puts the flesh and the voice back into our collective understanding of one of the great cultural figures of the 20th century.
Harvey Sid Fisher