Welsh screen icon Richard Burton would have turned 87 on November 10th. It's hard to imagine that vital, carousing, temperamental soul in mellow old age. Harder still to imagine the world-acclaimed actor as a family man worrying about his daughter's wounded heart, as a thoughtful and voracious reader of all manner of subjects, and as an insecure man with 'self-esteem issues,' who, nonetheless, could paint vividly mocking pictures of several hallowed contemporary thespians whose work he found wanting. But "The Richard Burton Dairies," soon-to-be published by the Yale University Press, reveal that and much more about the man behind the legend.
Welsh historian Chris Williams , took on the 2-year editing project alongside his responsibilities as a professor of Welsh history at Swansea University in South Wales. Williams says, "…many readers will be surprised how interested he was in books and in scholarship. … current and world affairs which extended to the question of the environment." "… he had an enormous appetite for learning – a restlessness almost."
Burton was known later in life for being an Oscar-nominated actor, as notorious for his marriages to the dazzling Elizabeth Taylor as for his acting talent, rugged good looks and mellifluous speaking voice. These diaries echo with details of their tempestuous, torturous and yet tender relationship.
He hobnobbed with artists, politicos and the Hollywood elite, but Burton's beginnings were far humbler. He was a miner's son, born Richard Jenkins , in the tiny village of Pontrhydyfen in Wales on November 10, 1925. This twelve-pound bouncing baby boy was born in the same modest home as his father and shared it with his eleven siblings and their parents for the first 2 years of his life.
His keen mind and acting potential were recognized by his teacher Phillip Burton who became young Richard's mentor, friend, surrogate father and, ultimately, his guardian. The legal guardianship took effect in December 1943 … and so Richard Burton was born.
Complementing the publication of the book is the airing, on November 25, of the Lifetime TV movie, "Liz and Dick," starring Lindsay Lohan and Grant Bowler, scripted by Welsh director Chris Monger.
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