Richard Burton CBE (born Richard Walter Jenkins JR.; 10 November 1925 5 August 1984) was a Welsh actor. He was nominated for seven Academy Awards without ever winning (His old drinking buddy Peter O'Toole takes the gold with eight nominations). On stage, he played Arthur in the original production of Camelot.
Burton was also famous for his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor. They met on the set of Cleopatra and engaged in an affair, which resulted him in leaving his first wife Sybil Williams, for Taylor. They married in 1964, divorced in 1974, remarried in 1975, and divorced again in 1976. After his marriage to Taylor ended twice, he later married twice more, to Suzy Hunt (1976-1982) and Sally Hay (1983-1984).
His daughter Kate Burton is also an actress.
No relation with Tim Burton.
In addition to his stage and screen roles, he's also known for providing the voice for The Journalist in Jeff Wayne's musical version of The War of the Worlds.
On August 5, 1984, after years of alcoholism, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 58.
He ended at #96 in 100 Greatest Britons.
His film roles included:
- Philip Ashley in My Cousin Rachel (1952)
- "Tammy" MacRoberts in The Desert Rats (1953)
- Marcellus Gallio in The Robe (1953)
- Alexander in Alexander the Great (1956)
- Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger (1959)
- Richard Campbell in The Longest Day (1962)
- Mark Antony in Cleopatra (1963)
- Paul Andros in The V.I.P.s (1963)
- Thomas Becket in Becket (1964)
- Narrator in Zulu (1964)
- Alec Leamas in The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1965)
- George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
- Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
- Maj. Jonathan Smith in Where Eagles Dare (1968)
- Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
- Breck Stancill in The Klansman (1974)
- Father Philip Lamont in Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
- Dr. Martin Dysart in Equus (1977)
- Col. Allen Faulkner in The Wild Geese (1978)
- O'Brien in 1984 (1984)
- The Alcoholic: Famously one of the drinking foursome with Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed.
- Alcoholic Parent: He described his father as a "twelve-pints-a-day man" who sometimes went off on drinking and gambling sprees for weeks, and that "he looked very much like me".
- Badass Baritone: He had a truly magnificent voice which only became deeper as he got older, due in no small part to his excessive drinking and smoking.
- The Casanova: Tended to play these especially during his younger days.
- Money, Dear Boy: The seven-time Oscar nominee, and most acclaimed Shakespearean actor of his era, also starred in the following movies: The Sand Pipers, Boom!, Staircase, Hammersmith is Out, The Assassination of Trotsky, Where Eagles Dare, Bluebeard (1972), Exorcist II: The Heretic. Presumably money had something to do with his choice of films. On the other hand, Burton had a tendency to take even bad films seriously, which decidedly invoked Narmy results.
- Rags to Riches: He grew up in poverty in a Welsh mining village. Acting saved him from working down a coal mine.
- Shakespearian Actors: Quite an accomplished one, though almost exclusively on stage. He only made two Shakespeare films: Hamlet (1964), essentially a recording of his Broadway performance in that role, and The Taming of the Shrew (1967) opposite his then-wife Elizabeth Taylor.