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~*~Richard Burton Biography~*~

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Richard Walter Jenkins Jr. was born in Pontrhydyfen, South Wales on the 10th of November to Edith and Richard Jenkins, in 1925. He was the twelfth of thirteen children. In 1943, his schoolmaster, Philip Burton, adopted him and became his legal ward. Philip helped him get into Oxford University when he was only sixteen, and so began Richard's acting and voice development. He took Philip's last name as his own, thus becoming Richard Burton.

While at school, he made his stage debut in Emlyn William's "Druid's Rest," in 1943. Richard spent time as an officer cadet in the RAF, but was unable to be a pilot due to his lack of perfect eyesight. Shortly after leaving the RAF, he made his first film appearance in a movie called "The Last Days Of Dolwyn," in 1948. It was during that time that he met his co-star, and soon to be wife, Sybil Williams. They eventually had two daughters named Jessica and Kate.

In 1949, he appeared in a play called "The Lady's Not for Burning" which took him to Broadway, in the United States. Once there, he starred in "My Cousin Rachel," in 1952 and landed several other movie deals. He split his time between the States and Britain doing stage performances. The noticeable signs of success didn't come until he appeared as King Arthur in "Camelot;" a Broadway musical in 1960, which he won a Tony Award for Best Actor. He also portrayed Marc Antony in the hit film "Cleopatra," in 1963.

During the filming of "Cleopatra," he began his infamous affair with Elizabeth Taylor. They both left previous relationships behind them in order to devote themselves to each other; feeding the tabloids and the press with scandal and headlines. Richard and Elizabeth were married not once, but twice, and appeared together in ten films and in the 1983 play, "Private Lives." Probably the most notable film they did together was "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," in 1966. The audiences and press became fixated on their relationship, but soon their interest fizzled out. In 1961, a German girl by the name of Maria Carson was born. She was adopted by Richard and Liz in 1964.

In 1964, Richard performed "Hamlet" on Broadway. It broke all attendance and box office records and continues to hold the reecord for longest running performance of "Hamlet" on Broadway.

Even though Richard was successful on his own, he was often overshadowed by Elizabeth, sometimes being refereed to as 'Mrs. Taylor.' Richard was nominated for many awards, but rarely won.

In 1984, he appeared in a movie entitled "Ellis Island" which also featured his daughter, Kate, and a remake of "1984". It was to be his last film. Just weeks before he was to begin the sequel to "Wild Geese," Richard died in Geneva, Switzerland of a brain hemorrhage on Sunday, the 5th of August, 1984. He was 58.

Richard was buried in a red suit, with a copy of the complete works of Dylan Thomas. His coffin was covered with a large wreath decorated with the Welsh flag. While he was accused of wasting his talents by doing films simply for the money, his drinking, womanizing, many marriages and spending large amounts of money left and right, Richard Burton was one of the greatest actors of all time. He had one of the most powerful speaking voices and was a true genius. He is buried in the Protestant Churchyard in Celigny, Switzerland.

Last Updated: 02 June 2004.
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