Richard Burton is one of the most acclaimed thespians of his generation. It didn’t stop the legendary figure from living a life of shame. The actor keeps diaries of his life in the form of various pocketbooks that he will carry around with him. These leave to the actor’s final wife, who releases them after his death. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Richard Burton’s diaries revealed his shameful life.
The main sources of the shame that plagued actor Richard Burton during his life stemmed from two sources. The first source is his strange upbringing and unusual relationship with his family. Culminating in an accident that results in the death of his elder brother. The second source was the actor’s relationship with Elizabeth Taylor, which lasted for 13 years. These things haunt Richard until his death in 1984, causing him to escape into alcohol and self-destruction until the end.
Richard’s Adopted Family
Richard had been one of over a dozen children born to a poor miner. As a child, Richard expresses a keen intellect, and his education gets priority over his fellow siblings’. This included Ifor, Richard’s elder brother by nearly 20 years. Acting as a father figure to Richard while their real father is busy at work. Many speculate it is Ifor who is most responsible for allowing Richard to be adopted.
Richard had a teacher named Philip Burton that had always expressed interest in adopting him. Believing that this might open up greater pathways for his younger sibling later on in life. Ifor says to play a part in making sure this adoption occurs. Richard raises by his teacher and takes his teacher’s surname as his own.
Opportunities from his teacher
Being adopted by his teacher grants Richard more opportunities in life than if he stays at home with his siblings. He retains mixed feelings about the events all the way up until the time of his death. It allows him a greater deal of success in life. But separates him from his origins in a way that he is never able to recuperate from. It is largely possible that Richard held a grudge against Ifor for setting this adoption up. It’s possible that such a grudge can play a part in the supposed accident that occurs in June of 1968.
Adopted Father’s Funeral
In June of 1968, Richard and Ifor reunite after many years of being apart. They bring back together to attend the funeral of Richard’s adopted father, who had committed suicide. The night Richard and Ifor reunite, they say to drink nearly 20 bottles of wine between the two of them. While the event was initially a merry one, it soon turned dark. Richard had become a famous Hollywood actor and was living with actress Elizabeth Taylor. Ifor always judged Richard for leaving behind his first wife and children to pursue fame in Hollywood. Likewise, Richard likely resented his elder brother for whatever role the father figure had played in pushing him on the path to do so.
It doesn’t exactly occur between Richard and Ifor on the night of their drunken reunion. However, we know that neither of the brothers was ever the same. The events that transpired altered their lives permanently, and not for the better. The official report stated that Ifor had tripped down some stairs. The elder brother paralyzes and will die within the year. Richard would subsequently turn to alcoholism harder than ever before, in the midst of his already tumultuous relationship with Elizabeth Taylor.
Although both brothers were adamant that whatever had occurred on that June night was an accident, many have speculated that what occurred was actually the result of a drunken brawl between the two brothers, or that Richard had perhaps pushed his brother down those fateful stairs. Richard is famous for his violent temper, and it won’t be the first time that a drunken Richard engages in physical conflict. Whether Richard was truly responsible or not, he blamed himself for what happened that night and was never the same.
With the suicide of his caregiver and the death of his elder brother, Richard felt little attachment to his home. He returned to his Hollywood life with Elizabeth Taylor, though this relationship didn’t offer Richard much reprieve. Soon, Richard’s self-destruction was going to spiral out of control. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! As well, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Elder Brother’s Death
In addition to Richard Burton’s troubling upbringing and the death of his elder brother, the actor’s relationship with Elizabeth Taylor was also a great source of shame in his later life. The two show in 11 films together and marry twice. During that time period, they involve in a whirlwind romance that takes a great toll on both of them.
The first time that Richard and Elizabeth ever saw each other was at a Hollywood party in 1953. Richard saw Elizabeth from across the room and was immediately stricken by how beautiful the 21-year-old actress was. However, Elizabeth recalls writing Richard off as being crass and vulgar. Elizabeth would hold these views on Richard from afar for the ensuing decade before finally being forced to confront the actor face to face on the set of Cleopatra.
Relationship with Cleopatra
Though the pair went into the filming of the epic Cleopatra with the intentions of being completely intentional, they soon found that they were actually hitting it off. All these years later, Elizabeth no longer found Richard to be quite so crass. Their romance on the set of the film blossomed into something much greater, as the two became entangled in a relationship that was going to last for the next 13 years.
Elizabeth was married at the time that she began seeing Richard. According to legend, Richard answered the phone while staying at Elizabeth’s house and her husband was on the other end. Elizabeth’s husband was Eddie Fisher, a popular singer. He later died as a result of a drug overdose.
Richard and Elizabeth
By the time Richard and Elizabeth had tied the knot, their relationship was a tabloid sensation. The couple took the attention they received with a grain of salt, and often played into scandals just to get a laugh. The couple was often spotted in public having loud verbal disputes, though they would claim these were simply vocal exercises to satiate onlookers. If their fights started as a tabloid game, they soon matured into something more serious.
The relationship between Richard and Elizabeth was never a stable one. Elizabeth tried to kill herself twice during the filming of Cleopatra, and both parties turned to alcohol excessively during their marriages. Their lives of excess transcended both their extravagant arguments and their domestic disputes. The couple was essentially Hollywood royalty and had the bank accounts to back it up. Some of the many extravagant things the couple could afford included private jets, classical paintings, and famous jewels.
Divorce in 1974
If Richard and Elizabeth initially claimed that their fights were just a show that they were putting on for the presses, they soon became something else entirely. As the marriage got worse, Richard began seeing other people. This made Richard and Elizabeth’s many arguments much more serious. In 1974, the couple divorced for the first time.
After Richard and Elizabeth’s initial divorce in 1974, the couple remarried only a year later. However, their second marriage didn’t last nearly as long as the first, and it was over almost as soon as it had begun. After their second divorce, Richard and Elizabeth remained apart until the event of their deaths several years later.
Although Richard and Elizabeth could never make it work as a couple, they still considered each other’s destinies intrinsically tied together after their second divorce. If Richard hadn’t have died less than a decade after their separation, they may have even married a third time! Both Richard and Elizabeth maintained feelings for each other well past the point of their second marriage. However, they chose to stay apart for their sanity.
Richard’s father had been an alcoholic, and alcohol had played a major role in many of the events that had caused the actor shame during his own life. From the drunken incident involving his elder brother in June of 1968 to his alcohol-fueled relationship with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard never found the solace in alcohol that he was likely looking for. After the death of his brother and his divorce from Elizabeth, Richard had little in life left but the bottle.
Richard remarried twice after his second and final divorce from Elizabeth. He married British model and actress Suzy Miller in 1976, and they remained married until 1982. He then married author Sally Hay. Richard and Sally were married at the time of Richard’s death in 1984, and Sally is the one that Richard left his many diaries to.
His Death in 1984
At the time of his death in 1984, Richard’s health had been on the decline for many years due to his alcohol abuse. In 1981, the actor had been diagnosed with cirrhosis and kidney disease, two complications often related to chronic overconsumption of alcohol. The actor’s cause of death ended up being a cerebral hemorrhage, and he passed away at the age of 58. The actor’s diaries were released by his late last wife nearly two decades later, and revealed to the world many of the troubles that plagued the legendary figure.
Richard Burton may have been one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, but he was never quite content with his work in Hollywood. Instead, he would have liked to have done more work in theater. Comment down below to share what your favorite role from Richard’s Hollywood career is, or if you wish you could have seen him perform on stage. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!