Elizabeth and Richard – a love story never to be forgotten.
written by Souranath Banerjee.
It all started in the sets of ‘Cleopatra’:
The year was 1962 and the most expensive Hollywood drama of that time ‘Cleopatra’ was under production.
The film casted handsome Richard Burton who was 37 and married to Sybil Williams, and the ravishing beauty Elizabeth Taylor, who was 30 and was married to Eddie Fisher (her forth marriage till then).
It is said that their first on-screen kiss lasted so long that the director actually had to ask them if he might say the word ‘cut’. It was the start of one of the craziest and most sensational love stories the world has ever witnessed.
The Vatican denounced the couple (as they were both married and openly having an affair) and termed their relationship as “erotic vagrancy”. But this whole Vatican episode just added to their popularity – by then they were the highest paid and most talked-about couple in the world.
In 1963 ‘Cleopatra’ was released and in 1964 Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor got married (for their first time). Their love story was always the priority for the press – they appeared in 11 films together, married and divorced twice to each other and lived their lives in the lavish Hollywood style.
Now when I use the word ‘lavish’ I really mean it. For example – in 1969 Richard Burton bought a diamond for Elizabeth Taylor for 1.1 million dollars which received a worldwide publicity and since then famously known as the Taylor-Burton Diamond.
‘Who’s afraid of Virginia wolf’
Certainly ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolf’ is their best film together; both Burton and Taylor were nominated for the Oscars – Elizabeth won the award for best actress (her second time) while Richard missed out yet again. (Richard Burton’s luck wasn’t the best when it came to Oscars; he was nominated seven times but never won any).
Directed by Mick Nickolas the film focuses on certain equations between married couples. In the film Elizabeth (Martha) and Burton (George) portray a love and hate relationship, they are married and they often show their love by insulting and torturing each other. Drunk to their core most of the times, they play vicious games which leads to dangerous alleys from where there is no turning back.
Now it is rumored that Burton and Elizabeth played their real life characters in the film ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolf’; that they actually enjoyed abusing each other openly, as if it was a form of a foreplay.
Perfect casting huh!
Chance of a third marriage?
It was rumored that Elizabeth wanted to marry Burton for a third time when they were working together in a stage production of Noel Coward’s Private lives. But that was not meant to be.
The two of them though obsessed with each other still enjoyed their dose of arguments and insults. One night Elizabeth was too drunk (or may be just to spite Burton), she didn’t turn up for the theatre performance. Burton was outraged to such heights that he made a sudden decision to marry his make-up artist Sally Hay. This episode is very well recreated in the recent TV movie Burton and Taylor.
The best on-screen and off-screen couple of Hollywood, their love story is like an adult fairytale, mad enough for the world to remember through ages.