Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had an epic love that not even Brad and Angelina, as Vanity Fair points out, have a chance of standing up to.
In a new book called “Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century,” written by Vanity Fair contributing editor Sam Kashner and co-author Nancy Schoenberger, Burton’s adoration for Taylor is laid bare for the world to read, according to a VF press release.
The July issue of Vanity Fair - on sale in New York and L.A. on June 2, and nationally on June 8 - will include a variety of snippets from Burton's letters, but we also have a few excerpts below, courtesy of VF:
Burton on the idiocy of love:
“One of these days I will wake up—which I think I have done already—and realize to myself that I really do love. I find it very difficult to allow my whole life to rest on the existence of another creature. I find it equally difficult, because of my innate arrogance, to believe in the idea of love. There is no such thing, I say to myself. There is lust, of course, and usage, and jealousy, and desire and spent powers, but no such thing as the idiocy of love. Who invented that concept? I have wracked my shabby brains and can find no answer.”
Burton calls acting “faintly ridiculous”:
“I have never quite got over the fact that I thought and I’m afraid I still do think, that ‘acting’ for a man—a really proper man—is sissified and faintly ridiculous. I will do this film with Ponti and Loren out of sheer cupidity—desire for money. I will unquestionably do many more. But my heart, unlike yours, is not in it.”
Burton on the misunderstanding between them:
“You must know, of course, how much I love you. You must know, of course, how badly I treat you. But the fundamental and most vicious, swinish, murderous, and unchangeable fact is that we totally misunderstand each other … we operate on alien wavelengths. You are as distant as Venus—planet, I mean—and I am tone-deaf to the music of the spheres. But how-so-be-it nevertheless. (A cliché among Welsh politicians.) I love you and I always will. Come back to me as soon as you can … ”
Burton on how he’ll never write about another relationship:
“I’ll leave it to you to announce the parting of the ways while I shall never say or write one word except this valedictory note to you. Try and look after yourself. Much love.”
Reading those excerpts from his letters reminds me of the Shakespear sonnet 116 wherein he talks about love and at the end says that if what he said in this sonnet is not true then he never wrote a thing and no man has ever loved.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
We don't critize people whom we never had the opportunity to know. Let Liz and all her friends teach young girls a lesson-don't critize -someone unless you have walked in their shoes or slept in their bed. She was the best hollywood
had back them. I am talking about acting abilities not her peronal life. How many of you idiots wouldn't like to walk in her shoes?
remember when you revere these people that they started the "dr. feelgood" epidimic that now controls a lot of the hollywood stars. not only liz, but eddie fisher, tony curtis, janet leigh, etc., etc. were drug addicts and alcoholics most of their lives. just because it comes from a dr. doesn't mean their not addicts, it just means they're smarter to get the pharmaceutical grade drugs instead of the bad stuff that has been cut with god knows what. if it looks like a duck........
I was always a huge fan of Richard Burton and always admired his speaking ability and now I know for sure he was, at heart, a true romantic. No man could write these letters and not be a romantic. He and Elizabeth were always my favorite couple and he was always my favorite actor. I just wished the two of them could stay away from the booze that eventually destroyed them. I shall definitely read this book.
He isn't writing literature; these are letters. They were written before the existence of spell-and-grammar checkers. Compared to today's tweets and texts they are as lush as Shakespeare. It is interesting to see his insecurities emerge in the grandiloquence of his expressions of love, but his pride hide them in his "valedictory note". I generally avoid celebrity biographies but I may have to read this one.
Two very passionate people with magnetism... to love and desire another can one of lifes great Joys or miseries ...
I really have to give my respects to Burton as man's man. He definitely was intelligent enough and had character to see that acting was a bit of a ridiculous and almost un-manly thing. I think most men of his generation feel that way. Marlon Brando also had issues with "lying for a living" as he put it.
Love letters? I think not. Poor Liz. To think that these were her' love letters'. Oh well, at the least the diamonds and emeralds were nice.
Though both talented, they spent much of their lives in alcoholic stupors, which contributed to their volatile relationship. We will never know if they would have loved so passionately if they were sober. I'll bet alcohol contributed to his early death. And ET has been on pain pills forever. Who knows? I'll tell you this: I would love a man to adore me like he did her.
Elizabeth Taylor was my idol when I was growing up. I loved all of her movies and collected every article and book there was on her. She was most memorable in movies such as The Last Time I Saw Paris, Suddenly Last Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Butterfield 8 and many more. I thought that both her and Burton were well matched in Taming of the Shrew. Very sad that they did not make it together. Too much booze and togetherness.
Wow. I think celebrities have gotten stupider. Compare Burton's eloquence with the celebrity Tweets of today.
welshmenaredreamy, tell me about it. Tom Jones does it for me. Love Anthony Hopkins too. There is something so powerful, commanding and masculine about these men.
Richard Burton made the women in my family heave deep deep sighs. Fine man and fine actor. Burton, Tom Jones, Anthony Hopkins...what IS it about Welsh men?! :)
Elizabeth Taylor a gold digger? Are you kidding me? She is one of the most talented, beautiful, glamorous actresses and the last of that wonderful era. We are so lucky to have had her and her great work on the screen. I feel honored to be able to see any part of the love letters from RB to her. They had a passion that few get to experience. Just watch "The Sandpiper".
Valerie - news flash, your not that young. So I don't believe you qualify to comment for the young folks...now do you!
Why are Elizabeth Taylor's marriages looked at as romance but Larry King's are't?
anyone remember eddie fisher and debbie reynolds
Even Debbie has forgiven Liz for that one. Eddie wasn't worth it. Liz herself knew she had made a big mistake when the smoke cleared but it was too late by then. She really went to pieces when Mike Todd was killed. Doesn't entirely excuse her but I'm sure Eddie was glad to conveniently be there to "console" her. I'll always respect her for being honest about her life and her good works for those with AIDs long before it became popular to support. And Liz was and is a good mother, something of real value you can't say about a lot of personalities in this day and age. .
It is truly a gift that Dame Elizabeth has shared with us. Theirs will go down in history along with Antony & Cleopatra as one of the hottest romances ever. Ms. Taylor has graced our lives with her many excellent performances, as well as her lovingly 'giving' spirit. Her work for AMFAR and battle against the stigma of AIDS will not be forgotten. I say BRAVO to our sweet Elizabeth, all of us here in New York City love you and will always wish you only the very best!
OH yeah, Ann.... Another thing you failed to take into account, Liz DONATED these love letters. She did so NOT out of Malice or for profit. she gave them to two other authors to write about so we might see another side of her great love. She had every reason to become a bitter female coming out of a bad romance, However she has shown style and grace! She is focusing on the positive. So, by your account, what is coming around.... these letters are not something one of your enquire magazines dug up and printed.... she gave them from her heart. You really must read better literature or at least understand the literature you are reading before you comment on it.
Honesty is one of Liz's dominant traits. When people admired her beauty she would often thank them but mention that the true beauties were Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner and Katherine Hepburn. Rock Hudson told her she looked ravishing and she laughed and said "I"m Minnie Mouse" and screwed up her face to prove it...
I agree with Shee and Pat C.
There sure was SOMETHING (love, passion and everything in between) going on between them. You love the person beyond words – but you just can't live with them. Was there myself once.
Glad Elizabeth is sharing this.
They were both first class people. And both very complex. Richard Burton had a most beautiful voice. I'm sure it was
a very deep love for both of them.
I am actually responding to Valerie, who appears to have no ear for the elegance of credible prose: simple, direct, exposing rather than expository...and to not be interested in the degeneration of writing, to defend rather than discuss it, seems peculiar to me. Few would not acknowledge that writing has diminished, for God's sake, teenagers talk in anagrams and monosyllabic words at best. Burton does not gush, but in his succinct yet clearly thoughtful letters he includes the addressee; he does not speak at her, but in effect, entertains a dialogue. It's pretty aokay with me, especially as I think of him (and of Taylor) as having been entertainers on a rare, an unusual, a special level of capability.
Valarie, this is not about you. No one came out and said Vallarie cannot write. We do not care if you can. Elizabeth married the men she slept with. If you are 40, using her formula, how many times would you be married? I have followed Elizabeth Taylor for 50 years. Not her best fan, but do admire her smarts, and her generosity.She has raised a familty and kept them out of the media. She is what our generation calls an Old Broad. No matter how nasty you get about her, it is still about her, not you. And she has publlicly said you have a right to your opinion, since you must be one of her close friends to even know, but you do not count in her world. None of us do. Oh, she also donates millions to aids charities and hospitals. Very quietly.
Must of hit a nerve. I was making a general reply to the idiots implying the young of today are clueless in the ways of Love, and/or writing. Which of course, if complete BS. Next time read AND comprehend! And just in case you were not aware, people have been "sleeping around: FOREVER, it just was not on display as shamefully as it is today. As is said, "There is nothing new under the sun"!
I love Elizabeth Taylor! What a lovely and gracious lady. I look forward to the book!
I agree with the previous comment about Richard not being the love of her life. Mike Todd brought her out of the Hollywood good girl Metro star mold and opened up a world of other cultures to her. Look at the pictures of the two of them –he stimulated her in many reckless ways, After Mike Todd she took on more challenging roles –Tennesse Williams, Edward Albee....
Avatar, Burton was a mean Welsh drunk. His charm was that he was arrogant and handsome. The drink ,not the woman, made him a sad human at the end.. Elizabeth was the richer of the two. She funded one of her husbands political campaingns with a bit of her jewelry. When you spew your toxic ideas, it show your and Ann's sad souls. Get some help you two.
Both Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were wonderful and very successful in their acting careers. I truely enjoyed their films individually and together.
On the other hand,
in the real world they had Failed marriages. And sadly Adultery is not being successful, it is not just and is very sad because many hearts were broken.
Yeah right, old people.....the young today have NO knowledge of love or writing. Keep telling yourselves that. By the way, Liz was married to seven different men. Just in case you all forgot.....and before you bash me, I am not young nor old, I am in the middle, and 40 years old. And even as a young woman I knew how to write well, as do MANY of my younger counterparts. Just saying. None of this is impressive.
As a classic movie fan, I've purchased numerous Elizabeth Taylor films on DVD and several of Burton's fims. I have also read two of Elizabeth's biographies. They are each huge film talents (just watch Mike Nichols "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"). They were also the ego-centric "Hollywood Royalty" of their day. Burton was mezmerizing and Elizabeth was dubbed "the most beautiful woman in the world". I would love to read more about their epic romance.
agree, both were great actors.
I think many of the MEAN remarks are made by the young and foolish amongst us. Liz and Richard had a passion for one another. They simply could not live together in harmony. That does not mean that they did not genuinely love one another. His expression of love for her is nothing short of brilliant and truthful, his choice of prose typical of the man, a romantic at heart unable to accept and live with a heritage he came by naturally. I remember the cadence of his voice with such pleasure.
As for their artistry and brilliance. Both were extremely talented artists and honored in their day.
How can we judge these people by our own or current standards defeats logic. They lived together in a different time, they acted together and individually and were the best of their generation. I believe that the writings will be of interest to all of us who were fans who witnessed their magic on the screen whether together or individually. Thank you for sharing this with us Elizabeth Taylor!
Wow Ann....did you run out of Kibbles 'n Bits?? Or does your litter box need cleaning?
I love it! "Grammerian"...thanks for your clean up of other's language, but it's GRAMMARIAN. Hilarious. And check out Liz in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. That was filmed when she lost her husband, Mike Todd, in a plane crash. She is remarkable.
How anyone can say Elizabeth was evil or a gold digger is beyond me. She has been a wonderful mother, a wonderful mother-in-law, a great friend to many, a tireless worker for AIDS and I have no doubt has been very generous to many other charities and those in need. She has earned her own way through her acting, business ventures, and smart management of her resources. She is an honest, forthright woman who had the guts to leave relationships that were no longer working rather than stagnating in dead or abusive ones which, in the end, cause suffering to all involved, children included. More women should be so strong. Elizabeth has obviously always had a deep desire to love and be loved or she would have thrown in the towel on marriage long long ago. She has bravely lived through many health problems all of her life and even when ill has continued her charity efforts. Yes, she likes her jewelry–what woman doesn't–I like mine and I love and respect Liz. I see nothing in her life that could possibly be used to characterize her as evil. My opinion is that anyone who thinks Elizabeth is evil or a golddigger does not know that much about Elizabeth and her history and they are basing their opinion on gossip magazine and tabloid headlines that shout to us from every grocery and drug store check-out line.
Hello, LoveLiz! I could not have said it any better myself...While sweet Elizabeth needs no defense whatsoever, it is gratifying to know that some people, such as myself, think so highly of her.
OH, POOR POOR ANN!!!! I'm betting in her bitterness about being a mid 30's, overweight, dateless, female with long styleless hair,because her husband left her for another woman, She has failed to remember that "LIZ" has donated much of her wealth and most of her jewels to charities for people she expected nothing back from. Her work with HIV Patients is applauded world over. She is neither EVIL not is she a gold digger. Ann, Take out your disappointment in men on someone else, You are not alone because of Liz.
Brilliant man meets the wrong person.....what a loss. Wish he never met her. It is also a shame that online sites, text and email have replaced personal feelings.
It sounds as if you've been through some rough relationships to sound SO BITTER.
but burton was not the love of her life
You're right, Burton wasn't. Mike Todd was.
OK, these don't read as love letters to me...it sounds like a script or play he is reading. I mean who uses those words and such flamboyance. I don't find anything written in the letters printed here as romantic or loving.
Your are a SMUCK!!! Have you never seen Mr. Burton in an English written play before? If not then I would suggest Blockbuster or your nearest public library for example.
Seriously Elaine........... what do you read? or where you expecting i love you, i love you, i love you????
No denying it... Richard was SMOOOOOTH
I read somewhere that he could have a bottle of booze or more on board and still perform his plays flawlessly. That is true tolerance to alcohol. At the end, it blew his brains and what a shame.
Letter writing is an art, and I lament its loss. Our generation has no concept how to express anything, verbally or in writing, in more than 5 words without using the F-word once or twice. Such a pity. And I cant help wndering how the biographers of 2210 will be able to reconstruct the lives of our century's the important people with only emails to go by ...
So true. Blame our educational system. We don't have public schools, we have indoctrination centers where students learn how to take tests. The number of students who appreciate a beautifully written letter (or story or poem or song) is rapidly diminishing. They know how to text and send e-mail, but few write letters anymore.
Give me a break. Angelina and Brad are just a cheap knockoff of what passes for love these days. They will never be in the same class Liz and Richard.
LOL! Exactly...Brad and Angelooney are in love. He's just too proud to admit he made a mistake and leave and she's too afraid to let him go because she's afraid he will go running back to Jennifer as fast as his little legs will carry him. Hopefully, Jennifer is way too smart to make that mistake twice.
I don't see any chemistry between Brad and Angelina. I think they connected due to their mutual interest about having kids. Brad wanted kids and Angelina provided them. I see them in a partnership that tolerates a lot of ups and downs. Eventually, i think they will split.
The Burtons. What more can be said? They were wonderful together, and in their acting roles, both on and off the screen, they displayed the rare emotions known to few. Life for them was a fairy tale for many others, for example, when they decided to have dinner in Paris and flew their private jet country to country picking up friends along the way to rendezvous in Paris. I am glad Elizabeth shared these treasures with us. Both her Mother and her brother Howard must be looking at them with great smiles on their faces. God Bless You Always, Dame Elizabeth my dear. You are one of the truly great STARS the world has ever known and the most beautiful even now. Keep those violet eyes shining!
Too bad the beauty and art of letter writing is long gone
I hope they make a movie of their tempestuous love story
Wow! I cannot believe some of your vicious comments. Some of you are ruthless. How can anyone call her a gold digger? I had to LOL on that one. And to say he overacts. He was a fine actor in his day. Sure he played dramatic roles. That is how they were written back then. If you do not have something nice to say, DON'T BLOG!
AMEN to that!
I think I can safely say that the stupidest thing I've read this week is, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't blog." Try this on for size: Anybody who would write that is a mewling, cringing, frightened, over-sized, thick-headed idiot.
I rank theirs as one of the most intriguing, compelling and public love stories of the 20th Century.
Check out the video clips of Dick Cavett's interviews with Richard Burton (available via the NYTimes website). Burton is compelling and completely without pretense or arrogance. His description of his battle with alcohol is riveting.
Letter writing is a lost art. I have the letters my parents wrote to each other while he was gone during WWII and the treasure of them, and sharing it with their grand children and great grandchildren touches my soul. I can't wait to read the book!
I completely agree.
Theirs was a staggeringly lovely and complicated relationship...their bond surely remains despite the passage of time time and even death...a fire this intense never goes out. These letters are profound testimony. Liz, you are so blessed to have known such a great love. This woman remains iconic for reasons beyond the violet eyes and celebrated talent.
He overwrites just like he overacts.
Maranatha, Pray tell us all who you believe is a better male actor than Richard Burton?
What Maranatha said. He has a hambone a mile wide. Good in "Becket" though and he made an OK Hamlet.
Truly beautiful and rare........both of them together
I remember watching Taming of the Shrew and wondering how, 4 centuries before, Shakespeare knew that these two people would be born, love each other, and become actors, and knew to write parts just for them.
And, yes, Brangelina does not even come close.
As for "evil", Ann, whatever did the woman do to you, personally, in her long, tumultuous life, that you should be so bitter?
The old saying is so true: "what goes around, comes around". All the evil Elizabeth Taylor has done in her lifetime is now coming home to roost.
How judgmental and assuming of you...you, no doubt, are such close friends that you know her personally.
Creepy. Unless of course you are a former confidant of Ms. Taylor and have up close personal experience with all her evilness.
Jeez, Ann, Someone has really done a number on you. Probably a bad upbringing or some misguided religious beliefs, but who am I to presume as such???????
Such bitterness must result from some very rough relationships in Ann's life. It's a pity that she finds the need to apply that hardness on to other people's lives and loves.
Elizabeth Taylor fell in love with men who were ( 2 of them) legally attached to other women. There is nothing evil about loving a "married" man who does not act ..married. The outside view of people who feel so righteous is just that: outside. They know nothing about what goes on in these people's relationships. You can't blame a woman for loving a man. It is not her fault or business what he does when he is not with her. Live a little.
The long and short of that relationship was he was an alcoholic. He drove her away with abusive behavior and womanizing, and then proceeded to drink himself to death. Addicts might make fine artists, but they make terrible husbands.
Ann. May you never know what it is like to walk in someone else's shoes. You have no IDEA what it is to be Elizabeth Taylor, nor could you have handled it, and that is for sure. Shame on you. By the way, what do your friends (if you have any) call you?
What the heck are you talking about. How does that even pertain to this article.
Ummm, makes me melt just knowing he said those wonderful, delicious, heart warming words to Elizabeth. I'll bet they were two tigers in a closed pen, vying for each other's attention, and the misunderstandings abound. They married, divorced and married again, they truly loved each other. Makes me swoon at the thought. Love and blessings Liz.
AVATAR: Elizabeth Taylor may be many things, but golddiger is not one of them. She was far more wealthy than Burton when they met and, in fact, is still one of the wealthiest of them all.
Burton was one of the greatest actors ever. It is so weird to see that he wrote his "heart wasn't in it." If you haven't, watch part 2 or Cleopatra. They were terrific together in that film.
I saw a snippet of him doing Shakesphere. Awesome. More than awesome, it made a person not particularlly interested in the Bard interested in reading more but with feeling. Kind of like watching Paveroiti (sp?) sing.
Burton's love for this simple-minded golddigger ruined him as a man and an actor. His love was a personal tragedy and a loss to the both acting and literature. Strange to say, Burton was quite a scholar and completely qualified to teach the significance of the words he acted. I wished he'd never met Liz Taylor.
Elizabeth Taylor is a fine actor in her own right. I would imagine that she could match dollars to dollars with any man she was married to, and she was far from simple minded...as she has managed to keep us intriqued with her life for several decades...
RB was the man avatar.......a bad woman will make a good man mean....
NONE OF THAT MATTERS, WHAT YOU ALL ARE SAYING.
iF THEY WERE IN LOVE...
LOVE IS LOVE
WHAT EVER IT WAS, THEY BELIEVED THEY LOVED EACH OTHER......
WHAT ELSE MATTERS.
I sense a little jealousyhere.
Elizabeth Taylor was never a gold digger. She followed her heart and fell in love with men in her entourage...co-stars..etc..
I think Burton was very important in her life but I believe that Mike Todd was really the love of her life who died in a plane crash. She was young and a new mother of his daughter. She has had a very productive and interesting life. She and Burton were an item but they were too different to survive together.
Elizabeth Taylor was the FIRST actor to get $1,000,000.00 a picture. She was no gold digger.
Gold-digger? She was self-made prior to meeting him. She is an impassioned activist and was the love of his life. He was a raging alcoholic which she tolerated. Is that her fault too? They were BEAUTIFUL together – beautifully imperfect!
I find it humorous that a person with a screen name of Avatar (perhaps the movie with the most appalling acting of the year 2009) has any comment on Burton's career being over because of Liz Talyor. He, just like Marlon Brando, was a brilliant actor with a beginning that soured above others in his time. Both men found acting to be quite gay, and were embarrassed with the craft. It is no coincidence that they both ended with horrible work at the end of their lives. It is no one's fault but their own. They merely started to believe everything they kept reiterating: that acting was a worthless craft in their own minds.
Years ago I went to see a Taylor double feature on a rainy night on the upper West side, alone. Butterfield 8 and An American Tragedy. I was stunned. I am grateful to say that my mind can be changed; I had always thought Taylor was a brunette bimbo...no. She is a genius actress. Restraint and conversely commitment to action do not exist without intelligence, understanding and a gift. It had been easy to disdain her: so beautiful, and a home wrecker, too! But do yourself a favor and watch her work. Check out 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' if you retain doubts after really watching her.
These snippets of Burton's letters are moving. Too bad that most people nowadays wouldn't be as articulate in emails, etc. It would be interesting to see if Taylor's responses are as articulate.
Articulate? example: "innate arrogance"? Bad writing!
I see nothing wrong with "innate arrogance"... it is spelled correctly and means that he was naturally born arrogant and is aware of it... some people are born with certain qualities to their personalities.
Are you serious? ESL students can write more poetic letters than this. His style of writing is too wordy and his tone too self-important.
Apparently he was a simple minded man but will be remembered as a literary scholar.
I agree Monica, whatever happened to the art of writting a love letter. He bears his soul to her, it is very touching.
I have to say I'm very touched with such factual, vunerable but honest expression of the heart... She really deserved it...
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