Famous celebrity couples often wield a power greater than the sum of its parts; Brangelina, and the Beckhams both come to mind. But for people of a certain age, the star couple which eclipses them all is Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century by Stan Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger is the biography of a marriage between one of Hollywood’s greatest stars and one of Britain’s greatest actors.
Both were married when they met on the set of Cleopatra in Italy, and started an affair that became known as La Scandale. The media frenzy which followed Liz and Dick, as their public persona was called, wherever they went was unparallelled. Both left their spouses to marry each other (twice), with Burton becoming Taylor’s fifth and sixth husband.
The book details their life together, the films they made, both together and apart, the rows, the making up, the jewellery and extravagant lifestyle they led. It is quite unflinching in its honesty, particularly when it comes to Burton’s legendary drinking, and the fact that the volatility of their relationahip was detrimental to both of them.
Still, you are left with the feeling that they could not truly live without the other. They were still in contact with each other after their divorces and subsequent remarriages, with a final letter from Burton reaching Taylor just after he died, aged 58.
The greatest treasures of this book are the letters written by Burton to Taylor throughout their life together and apart. Burton’s words still evoke the fascination, the love and desire he had for Taylor, one of the greatest beauties of her time, or My Lumps as he affectionately called her.
The book is extensively referenced, with references and an index at the back (be still my beating librarain heart!). It is also quite a page turner, with quite a few candid anecdotes featuring the cream of British cinema and Hollywood.
The film rights to the book, which was released last year, have been snapped up by Martin Scorcese. Once approvalis received from the estate of Elizabeth Taylor (Richard Burton’s family has already approved it), a screenwriter will be appointed.
It would make for an interesting film. Who would you think would be able to recreate their chemistry on screen? My money is on Ioan Gruffudd or Ewan McGregor as being able to capture Richard Burton, but I’m stumped for Elizabeth Taylor. Any suggestions?