Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Brangelina Who? Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s Wedding 60 Years Later

By Michael Mar 16, 2024
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Before Bennifer, Brangelina and Tayvis, there was Liz and Dick.

March 15, 2024 marks 60 years since the (first) wedding of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The couple set the world on fire with their whirlwind romance, which Burton famously referred to as “Le Scandale.” The pair originally crossed paths at a Hollywood party in the ‘50s, but they officially met for the first time on the set of their 1963 movie, Cleopatra, where sparks immediately began to fly.

Although both married to other people at the time — Taylor wed Eddie Fisher in 1959, while Burton had tied the knot with Sybil Williams in 1949 — the twosome began a passionate affair during their time in Italy that quickly became a global phenomenon. From photos of them kissing on yachts in the Mediterranean to walking along Rome’s Via Veneto, the public’s obsession with the duo’s infidelity made headlines around the world‚ to a magnitude that matched, if not exceeded, modern-day pairs like Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

“I’ve had affairs before,” Burton once told a publicist working on Cleopatra. “How did I know the woman was so f—king famous? She knocks Khrushchev off the front page.”

Celebrity Couples and How They Met: Love Story Beginnings

Eventually, both Burton and Taylor divorced their respective partners and were wed in Montreal on March 15, 1964, by a Unitarian minister. Elizabeth was 32 years old at the time, Burton was 38. It was her fifth wedding, his second. (Taylor’s entanglement with Burton marked her second love triangle, as she initially got together with Fisher when he was still married to her friend Debbie Reynolds.)

According to her 2022 authorized memoir, Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit and Glamour of an Icon, the minister started the ceremony by crediting the couple for going “through great travail in your love for each other” while being harassed and hounded by the media.

Taylor donned a canary yellow chiffon babydoll dress for the nuptials, which Cleopatra costume Designer Irene Sharaff designed. She paired the look with an 18-carat Bulgari emerald brooch, a piece that Burton had gifted her while filming. Her hairdresser, Ronald DeMann, styled her locks into a braided crown updo with a hairpiece entwined with white hyacinths. Lilies trailed down her back.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images

The only guests at the intimate ceremony were Taylor’s parents, Francis and Sara, and Burton’s stylist, Bob Wilson. The service lasted a mere 10 minutes, ending with Burton claiming, “Elizabeth Burton and I are very, very happy.” Elizabeth agreed, announcing, “I’m so happy you can’t believe it. This marriage will last forever.”

Forever didn’t last as long as Taylor hoped. The pair had a volatile relationship throughout their first 10 years of marriage, with Taylor once claiming that Burton would often “lose his temper with true enjoyment.”

“Our fights are delightful screaming matches, and Richard is rather like a small atom bomb going off,” she said.

Burton echoed his wife’s sentiments. “We live out, for the benefit of the mob, the sort of idiocies they’ve come to expect,” he told the Daily Mirror. “We will often pitch a battle purely for the exercise. I will accuse her of being ugly, she will accuse me of being a talentless son of a bitch, and this sort of frightens people. … I love arguing with Elizabeth, except when she is in the nude.”

The twosome announced their divorce in 1974. Less than one year later, however, they tied the knot for a second time in a ceremony in Botswana. “We exchanged rings, fathomless looks, and were married once again, back where we belonged. Always belonged,” Taylor wrote in a diary entry from that time.

15th March 1964: British-born Elizabeth Taylor sits on a sofa kissing her fifth husband, Welsh actor Richard Burton, while he leans over her on their first wedding day. Taylor is wearing a yellow gown Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Burton and Taylor adopted daughter Maria in 1961. However, after 11 films and nearly two decades together, they called it quits for good in 1976. (Taylor tied the knot eight times in total. In addition to Burton and Fisher, she was married to Conrad Hilton Jr. from 1950 to 1952 and Michael Wilding from 1952 to 1957, and the duo shared sons Michael Jr. and Christopher. In 1958, she married Mike Todd and the pair welcomed daughter Liza before he died in a plane crash less than one year later. Following her second divorce from Burton, she married John Warner and Larry Fortensky in 1976 and 1991, respectively.)

Dame Elizabeth Taylor Through the Years

In her autobiography, Taylor confessed that despite their romance failing to go the distance, she had no regrets about her and Burton’s love story. “Even though there were rough times,” she wrote, “I wouldn’t give up one minute of my time with Richard Burton.”

By Michael

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