Richard Burton's Diaries: 'Drink, Fight, Love'
10/25/2012 AT 12:30 PM EDT
Their union was born of scandalous infidelity on the 1962 set of Cleopatra – even the Pope condemned their "erotic vagrancy." Over the next 14 years Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton courted, married, divorced, rewed, and split again. They made 11 films together, but it was their off-screen pyrotechnics that made them the talk – and favorite tabloid fodder – of Hollywood. Gossip had it that they were much like the drunken, cheating couple in their screen triumph Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But in his diaries, Burton maintains they were faithful and, despite the rows, very much in love. A natural storyteller who didnâ€™t care much for getting dates or punctuation exactly right, he offers a heartfelt inside view of the glamour and tumult that was Liz and Dick.
22 May, 1965
Woke in a foul temper. ... Went to Olden with E. Started picking on her – dined at home on turkey – then went on to a rip and tear quarrel. Slept alone! Fools!
29 May, 1965
Elizabeth Taylor writes: Woke up feeling very contrite – both of us. Quietly and gently we became us again ... the strings of nerves are loosening. God, I love him so! Make me a better wife (Please).
Ten months later, Taylor suffered an unreported bout of profuse bleeding.
12 April, 1966
E came to lunch with me and felt sick. On arrive home bled. Poor little thing. I shouted and bawled at her for being 'unfit' for lack of discipline, for taking too much booze. I think I was talking about myself – out of fear for her.
Taylor writes: I love you.
23 September, 1966
My sister Edith died at the age of 43. She was the youngest sister and the funniest. I had to harrumph and snort a few times to stop the weeping. E behaved like an angel. She is splendid in a crisis.
26 September, 1966
E is at work on the barbecue. Astonishingly, I have lost, temporarily, my taste for alcohol. I shall force a campari-soda-vodka between my clenched teeth before dinner or bust. E's delight in cooking is lovely and I think she has a natural gift for it ...