The world has been captivated by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's fiery relationship ever since the couple first got together on the set of Cleopatra in 1963. We take a look at the passionate love story of Hollywood’s most glamorous couple. It is incredible.
Their love story had the makings of a Hollywood movie. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were married and divorced twice, and their union was probably the most notorious and dramatic of the 20th century.
From the moment their eyes met on the set of Cleopatra in 1963, the two stars were consumed with one another. Their first on-screen kiss lasted so long that the director had to ask them whether he could say 'cut'. They carried on kissing.
Elizabeth and Richard’s affair caused a huge sensation. Both were already married – she to her fourth husband Eddie Fisher, who she had famously stolen from Debbie Reynolds. The Vatican condemned their union, calling it 'erotic vagrancy', and the world’s press closely monitored their relationship from then on.
'Richard and I had an incredible chemistry together. We couldn't get enough of each other,' Elizabeth once said.
Elizabeth and Richard in Cleopatra, 1963.
They starred together countless times and their relationship was accompanied by an ostentatiously lavish lifestyle, worthy of Hollywood’s most famous couple – yachts, private jets, glittering parties and, of course, jewels. Richard once paid more than $1 million dollars for a diamond necklace for his wife, thereafter dubbed The Taylor-Burton Diamond.
But despite their undeniable passion for each other, their relationship was marred by alcoholism and bitter fighting. Friends noted that Elizabeth and Richard seemed to enjoy hurling insults at each other, almost as if it were foreplay.
Their first marriage, which began in March 1964, ended 10 years later, after Richard was unfaithful with a young co-star.
Both found new partners, but could not forget one another. They met up in the summer of 1975 to discuss their financial affairs but ended up weeping in each other’s arms. In August, it was announced that they were in love again, and the pair remarried in October. But within weeks, they fell back into their old habit of fighting and making up.
‘You can't keep clapping a couple of sticks of dynamite together without expecting them to blow up,’ Richard said.
Elizabeth and Richard on their wedding day in March 1964
They began sleeping in separate bedrooms, and Richard soon found himself enraptured with another woman – his future wife, Suzy Hunt. Elizabeth and Richard divorced for the second and final time in July 1976 and Burton married Suzy three weeks later. Elizabeth soon remarried as well, to the wealthy American John Warner.
Elizabeth and Richard remained fond of each other, however, and she even celebrated her 50th birthday in 1982, with him on her arm.
Rumours of a reconciliation abounded, and Elizabeth and Richard announced that they would work together once more, in a stage production of Noel Coward’s Private Lives. It is believed that Elizabeth hoped to tempt Richard into a third marriage. But this was not to be.
During happier times, as newlyweds in 1964
Reviews for the play were appalling, and Elizabeth drank so heavily that she failed to turn up for a performance one night. Furious at her, Richard married his young assistant, Sally Hay, instead. He was to die a year later, in 1984.
Elizabeth and Richard remained obsessed with one another, however. Before his death, Richard supposedly said of his ex-wife to a friend 'she still fascinates, you know'.
Elizabeth, too, remained devoted to him. As an older woman, she reportedly said that, had Richard lived, she was sure they would have married again.
Their love was the kind that does not die. Explaining why they couldn't make it work, Elizabeth once said: 'Maybe we loved each other too much.'
Newlyweds again: after their second marriage in 1975