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Pontrhydyfen, Wales
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Pontrhydyfen, Wales

Richard Walter Jenkins, afterwards known as ‘Richard Burton,’ was a well-known Welsh theater and movie actor who was adopted by his teacher and theater coach Philip H. Burton. He grew raised in a poor coal miner’s household in Wales. He had a passion for performing and theater since he was a child, and he was well-known at his school. When he was 16 years old, he skipped out of school and joined the Air Training Corps. Following his military duty, he became very serious about theater and acting, landing roles in English films and West End shows. His rising fame led him to Hollywood, where he was given numerous opportunities to showcase his acting abilities in films, theater, Broadway musicals, and television shows. ‘Hamlet,’ his most renowned Broadway performance, is also the world’s longest-running theater until today. For the various parts he has portrayed during his artistic career, he has received numerous Oscar nominations, two Golden Globe Awards, two Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and an Emmy nomination. He married five times in his life, twice to the famed actress Elizabeth Taylor, with whom he had a contentious marriage that was widely publicized.

Childhood and Adolescence

Richard Burton was born in a working-class family in Pontrhydyfen, Neath Port, Talbot, Wales, to Richard Walter Jenkins and Edith Maude. His father worked as a coal miner and was an alcoholic and gambler. His mother died when he was two years old, and his sister Cecilia and her husband Elfed raised him and his other 11 siblings. Burton was a grammar school student who excelled in English, Welsh, and rugby. He participated in theater in school and did exceptionally well. ‘The Apple Cart’ was one of the school’s shows, and he was awarded an Eisteddfod Award for excellence in theater. At the age of 16, he dropped out of school.

He worked for the local Co-operative Committee throughout the war and later joined the Air Training Corps’ Port Talbot Squadron as a cadet. Simultaneously, he joined a youth theatrical club, where he learned the basics of acting.
His school teacher, who was also a member of the Air Training Corps, adopted him, took over as his guardian, and returned him to school. He worked with him and assisted him in honing his skills. He was accepted into Exeter College, Oxford, at the age of eighteen. After six months at Exeter, he returned to the military as an air force cadet. Burton then spent almost three years as a navigator in the Royal Air Force. Because of his bad eyesight, he was unable to pursue a career as a pilot.

Career of Richard

Burton left the military in 1947 and began working on his theater career by signing up with a theatrical agency. He made his first feature film, ‘The Last Days of Dolwyn,’ for which he won critical acclaim. Burton worked in both film and stage from 1948 to 1950. He appeared in the West End production ‘The Lady’s Not For Burning’, as well as films such as ‘Now Barabbas Was A Robber,’ ‘Waterfront,’ ‘The Woman With No Name,’ and ‘Green Grow the Rushes.’
Burton rose to prominence in 1951 after a brilliant performance in Stratford’s ‘Henry IV Part I.’ He played Prince Hal opposite Anthony Quayle in the film.

Burton made his Hollywood debut in 1952, appearing opposite Olivia de Havilland in ‘My Cousin Rachel,’ after signing a 5-year deal with Alexander Korda. Korda loaned him to 20th Century Fox for this film.
Burton and James Mason starred in the film ‘Desert Rats’ in 1953. During World War II, he portrayed a young English captain. He became good friends with Mason after the movie, and Mason introduced him to the Hollywood crowd.

His film ‘The Robe’ was released around the same period. He garnered seven Oscar nods for the film, which was one of the first to be shown in CinemaScope. The film was a blockbuster adaptation of the Bible. Burton gained famous for narrating Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milk Wood” on the radio in 1954, and his voice and oration were praised by reviewers and audiences alike. Later, he narrated the film ‘The Valiant Years.’

‘Prince of Players,’ ‘Alexander the Great,’ ‘The Rains of Ranchipur,’ and ‘Sea Wife’ were among Burton’s films between 1955 and 1957. None of these films went well on the big screen, and Burton received a lot of flak for them.
In 1958, Burton starred in the film adaptation of John Osborne’s play ‘Look Back in Anger,’ directed by Tony Richardson. It bombed at the box office, as did his subsequent films, ‘The Bramble Bush’ and ‘Ice Palace.’

Burton did theater and Broadway in addition to movies from 1955 until 1960. At the Old Vic theater, he played the legendary roles of ‘Coriolanus,’ ‘Lago,’ and ‘Othello.’ He also appeared in musicals such as ‘Time Remembered,’ ‘Camelot,’ and ‘My Fair Lady,’ among others. Burton directed ‘Cleopatra,’ a 20th Century-Fox production that was considered the most expensive film of the time, in 1963. Burton was once again a Hollywood success story. He also starred in the film ‘The V.I.P.s.’

Burton starred in the Broadway production of ‘Hamlet’ at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1964. With 136 performances, it is the longest-running theatre in Broadway history. He won a Tony Award for his outstanding performance in Hamlet. The Night of the Iguana, based on Tennessee Williams’ play of the same name, was released in 1964. The critics praised his performance in the film. Around the same time, he did ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.’
Burton starred alongside his new second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor, in the film “The Sandpiper” in 1965. The next year, they collaborated on another picture, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ a film adaptation of Edward Albee’s play. ‘The Taming of the Shew,’ ‘The Comedians,’ ‘Boom!,’ ‘Doctor Faustus,’ and ‘Staircase’ were among Burton’s films from 1967 to 1969. He also worked on blockbusters such as Clint Eastwood’s “Where Eagles Dare” and “Anne of the Thousand Days.”

Burton created mediocre films like ‘Bluebeard,’ ‘Hammersmith Is Out,’ ‘The Klansman,’ ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic,’ and others from 1972 to 1977 due to budgetary constraints. He also got a Golden Globe Award for his film adaptation of his Broadway play “Equus.” He narrated Jeff Wayne’s musical adaptation of ‘The War of the Worlds’ in 1978. He also directed films such as ‘The Wild Geese,’ which was a worldwide box office success, and ‘The Medusa Touch,’ which received critical acclaim.

From 1980 through 1984, Burton directed films such as ‘Circle of Two,’ ‘Wagner,’ ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ and others. He also starred in the American miniseries ‘Ellis Island,’ for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award. It was his final appearance on television.

Achievements & Awards

Burton has won numerous accolades and awards for his work in films, Broadway, and television. For his films ‘My Cousin Rachel’ and ‘Equus,’ he won two Golden Globes. For ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,’ he won a BAFTA.
He got two Tony Awards for his epic theatrical performances–one for the musical ‘Camelot’ and the other as a Special Award–for his epic theatrical performances. He also won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Children’s Recording for ‘The Little Prince.’

Personal History and Legacy

Burton married Sybil Williams, a Welsh actress and producer, in 1949. Katherine Burton and Jessica Burton were their two daughters from their marriage. After 14 years of marriage, the couple divorced. He married his co-star Elizabeth Taylor in 1964. They were both married twice, the first in Montreal, Canada, and the second in Botswana. Their relationship was often a topic of conversation in the media. Burton married model Suzy Miller (who was married to Formula One Champion James Hunt) in 1976, shortly after his divorce from Elizabeth Taylor, but they separated six years later.

Burton was married to Sally Hay, a make-up artist, from 1983 until his death. To get away from the high taxes, he relocated to Switzerland with her. Burton died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Celigny, Switzerland, in 1984, where he was living as a tax exile with his fifth wife, Sally Hay. He was 58 years old at the time and had been afflicted with different illnesses for several years prior to his death.

Estimated Net Worth

Richard Burton is a Welsh actor with a net worth of $50 million dollars. Richard Burton, also known as Richard Walter Jenkins, was born in Pontrhydyfen, Wales, and was raised mostly by his older sister when his mother died. His father was generally absent from the scene. He excelled at sports, music, and public speaking, and was eventually adopted by Philip H., one of his professors.


This Hollywood star was a big drinker who consumed three bottles of vodka every day. He claimed that it was his way of dealing with the monotony of life once an actor left the stage. He was also a heavy smoker, consuming 3-5 packs of cigarettes every day. He had a number of physical issues, including arthritis, dermatitis, liver cirrhosis, and kidney illness. Because of his alcoholism, he was admitted to the hospital several times. Toward the end of his life, he used to limp.

After working together on ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,’ Burton’s marriage to Elizabeth Taylor was strained. He publicly refuted Taylor’s claim to be the most beautiful woman in the world, calling it “total rubbish” and claiming she had a double chin and an overdeveloped chest. This Hollywood actor admitted that he had experimented with homosexuality and claimed that everyone in the industry does so at some point. Burton was a skeptic of religion. Ifor, his older brother, was disabled after falling at Burton’s residence in Switzerland. Burton began blaming himself for the disaster and began drinking even more severely as a result.