‘Richard Burton Diaries’ reveal acting giant nagged by insecurities
The much-hyped release of Lifetime’s tantalizing biopic “Liz & Dick” brings the carousing, larger-than-life Welsh thespian Richard Burton back into the national spotlight, and some of the resulting public curiosity should rightfully fall to the recently released volume “The Richard Burton Diaries” (Yale University Press, $35).
This handsomely mounted, intelligently annotated collection of Burton’s personal diary entries – ranging from his teen years in 1939 to 1983, the year before his death – paints a revealing and intimate portrait of an artist that many remember mainly for his prodigious drinking, his suave womanizing and his lavish, bedazzling playboy lifestyle.
But from these hand-written pages (deftly edited by Welsh history professor Chris Williams) emerges a thoughtful, highly literate and multi-dimensional man, a man keenly observant but often nagged by monumental insecurity and deep-seeded doubts about the worthiness of his art.
Richard Burton was born Richard Jenkins in 1925 in the tiny village of Ponthydyfen, South Wales. The son of a coal miner, he was the 12th of 13 children who grew up in sooty, grinding poverty. From that humble beginning, he went on to become one of the world’s great Shakespearean actors and enjoyed a screen career highlighted by grand performances in such hits as “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Cleopatra.”
It was on the set of “Cleopatra” in 1963 that Burton fell in love with co-star Elizabeth Taylor and began one of the most sensational, tempestuous and highly publicized periods of his eventful life. The premiere Hollywood couple of the era, they were married between 1964 and 1974, scandalously divorced and remarried in 1974 for another year.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients