Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today to round out our question-answer quiz about Richard Burton.
We saved some of the juicier answers for last, so please read on. As mentioned our quiz was inspired by the recent publication of The Richard Burton Diaries, edited by Chris Williams, Yale University Press.
Question: How devoted was Burton to Taylor during their two marriages spread over 11 years? 1) very; 2) he had many affairs during their union; 3) he was a total philanderer; or 4) insisted on an “open marriage?”
Answer: 1) very. Whatever their considerable differences at the end of two unions, the couple loved each other, certainly at the start. In 1971, during their first go-around, Burton wrote: If anything happens to E (Taylor) I am fairly positive that I won’t be long after since I cannot believe that life will be worth living without her and indeed cannot believe that I ever did.
Question: Taylor finally left Burton because she could no longer abide his heavy drinking. True or false?
Answer: False. Both often drank heavily during their marriages, but it didn’t come between them until the end of their two unions (when, also, each was unfaithful). It was one of a number of factors that led to their ultimate estrangement. There’s no question that Burton was heavily into the booze at the end. Six days worth of dairy entries in May 1975, after his first divorce from Taylor and before his second marriage to her, each consist of just one word: “booze.”
Question: Burton once made a movie costarring Raquel Welch and bombshell Joey Heatherton, and had affairs with both. True or false?
Answer: Apparently, true. With his first marriage to Taylor crumbling, Burton accepted an offer to make European-financed Bluebeard, playing an Austrian aristocrat who prefers murdering his beautiful wives to divorcing them. The cast of the forgettable 1972 film included Welch and Heatherton plus Nathalie Delon, a Morocco-born actress formerly married to French hearth throb Alain Delon. According to the editor of Burton’s diaries, he may have had affairs with “some” of his female costars.
Question: Burton felt that in the end his marriages to Taylor hurt his career. True or false?
Answer: False. Burton believed that Taylor made him a much better film actor. The pictures he made after meeting her were far superior to those he made before, he felt. We believe he’s right.
Question: Burton spent so much money during his Taylor marriages that he died broke. True or false?
Answer: False. Burton did spend several small fortunes during their marriages on precious gems, several lavish homes and even a small jet plane. But he continued highly paid work in a number of films and TV projects following his second and final split with Taylor. When he died of a cerebral hemorrhage on Aug. 5, 1984 — three months after making a film version of the famous George Orwell novel, 1984 — he left an estate of about 3.5 million British pounds, worth at least double that amount at the time in U.S. dollars. And that was back in 1984. In short, Burton died a wealthy man.