BURTON WRITES OF TAYLOR

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Taylor and Burton pose on set of The Sandpiper, 1965.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were once Hollywood’s most famous power couple. Twice married and twice divorced, their romance was heavily documented over the years.

In 1965, Burton wrote an ode to his then-wife, printed for Vogue Magazine entitled ‘Burton Writes of Taylor’. The publishers decided that it was such an excellent piece of writing that it should be released in book form. Published in 1966, this was to be the second book which Richard Burton would have released in his lifetime. A slim volume of twenty-four pages tilted ‘Meeting Mrs. Jenkins’, Jenkins being his family surname. It is considered Richard Burton at his creative best with Taylor serving as his creative muse.

Photographer William Klein took the images of Elizabeth Taylor on the Paris film set of their latest Burton-Taylor movie The Sandpiper. Below is an extract, a rare intimacy into Burton’s picture of their relationship:

“…a girl sitting on the other side of the pool lowered her book, took off her sunglasses and looked at me. She was so extraordinarily beautiful that I nearly laughed out loud…I smiled at her and, after a long moment, just as I felt my own smile turning into a cross-eyed grimace, she started slightly and smiled back. There was little friendliness in the smile…She sipped some beer and went back to her book…She spoke to no one…Was she merely sullen, I wondered? I thought not. There was no trace of sulkiness in the divine face. She was a Mona Lisa type, I thought…and she is famine, fire, destruction, and plague, she is the dark Lady of the Sonnets, the only true begetter…

“Her breasts were apocalyptic, they would topple empires down before they withered. Indeed, her body was a miracle of construction and the work of an engineer of genius. I needed nothing except itself. It was true art.”

“Those huge violet-blue eyes (the biggest I’ve ever seen) had an odd glint in them. You couldn’t describe it as a twinkle….Search lights cannot twinkle, they turn on and off and probe the heavens and so on.”  

(All Photos by William Klein, 1965.)

 

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