Hiding from both the rain and the G20 this weekend, I read Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of a Century in less than two days. Get excited by reading the excellent excerpt in the current issue of Vanity Fair, but then click to buy—this is a book to own.
It’s full of naughty Old Hollywood glamour—Bloody Marys for breakfast, Burton feverishly outbidding Aristotle Onassis for the Cartier diamond—but it’s also rooted in real scholarship. (Um, Kitty Kelley? Sit down.) The authors, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, spoke to hundreds of people, from gossip columnist Liz Smith to Sir John Gielgud. Taylor herself shared the nearly 40 letters that Burton had written her. (Kashner and Schoenberger report that she was moved to preserve her late husband’s memory when they told her that a film student had exclaimed, ” “I didn’t know Tim Burton was married to Elizabeth Taylor!”)
What started as just another conquest for Burton turned into a love affair that rocked the world. This is from the set of Cleopatra, the first of their seven films together, when they were both married to other people:
“When their first love scene finally ended, Burton reportedly called for a beer and Elizabeth nonchalantly handed off her wig and walked away. In his dressing room…Burton lunched with a bevy of actors, writers, and adoring females. Suddenly, he called out across the empty soundstage for Elizabeth to join them.
She turned and smiled. She walked into his crowded dressing room, where he promptly ignored her, except to bend low and whisper an off-color story into her ear, one which made her blush and laugh with delight. Later, when they returned to the soundstage, he dragged her director’s chair next to his, where it would remain for the rest of the shoot.”
Below, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at their 1965 wedding reception in Montreal. Elizabeth is wearing a Bulgari brooch of emeralds and diamonds, an engagement present from Richard. The other photos are just for fun.