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Richard Burton


“The only thing in life is language. Not love. Not anything else.”



The 12th of 13 children of a Welsh miner, actor Richard Burton left his humble environs by winning a scholarship to Oxford. Blessed with a thrillingly theatrical voice, Burton took to the stage, and, by 1949, had been tagged as one of Britain’s most promising newcomers. Director Philip Dunne, who later helmed several of Burton’s Hollywood films, would recall viewing a 1949 London staging of The Lady’s Not for Burning and watching in awe as star John Gielgud was eclipsed by juvenile lead Richard Burton: “He ‘took’ the stage and kept a firm grip on it during every one of his brief appearances.” A few years after his film debut in The Last Days of Dolwyn (1949), the actor was signed by 20th Century Fox, which had hopes of turning him into the new Lawrence Olivier — although Burton was not quite able to grip films as well as he did the stage.

Aside from The Robe (1953), most of Burton’s Fox films were disappointments, and the actor was unable to shake his to-the-rafters theatricality… read more


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