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Richard Burton

Burton, Richard, 1925–84, British actor, b. Pontrhydfen, Wales; his original name was Richard Jenkins. A dark, introspective actor with a splendid speaking voice, Burton specialized in portraying conflicted, frequently tormented, men. He appeared with the Old Vic in Henry V and Othello and on Broadway in Camelot (1960) and Hamlet (1964). His two tempestuous marriages to Elizabeth Taylor led to an acting partnership that vaulted Burton to the top rank of stardom. Together, they made Cleopatra (1963), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). He chose his later roles less carefully, though he displayed undiminished power in such vehicles as Equus (1977), Wagner (1982), and 1984 (1984). In 1983 on Broadway he teamed again with Taylor in Noel Coward's Private Lives.

See C. Williams, ed., The Richard Burton Diaries (2012); biographies by M. Bragg (rev. ed., 1990) and M. Munn (2008).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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