Written with the co-operation of Richard Burton's surviving family, and with exclusive access to his letters and creative writing - including a 2000-word account of his first meeting with Elizabeth Taylor - this biography is the inside story of his successes and failures. He wanted to be the greatest actor of his generation, to be the biggest star, to have the world's most beautiful women, to be a great writer. He wanted to be Dylan Thomas and Laurence Olivier rolled into one. This book, incorporating extensive quotes from his own unpublished writings, shows how he paid the price in alcoholism, mental breakdown and, in the end, complete degradation.
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One of the many biographies of the actor, who died in 1984, including the surpassing Richard Burton: A Life (1988) by Melvyn Bragg and Richard Burton, My Brother (1988) by Graham Jenkins. Graham was the youngest of the populous Jenkins clan, born two years after Richard; David, this most recent brother/chronicler and a retired chief inspector of police still living in South Wales, falls somewhere in the soft center of the 11 children who survived infancy. There is little light and no heat in this version. And there is precious little about the young, larky, self-possessed Richard (saved from the jaws of poverty by a series of consequential adults who were enchanted by his gift) that hasn't been told earlier by Graham or far more entertainingly by Bragg, who had access to the luscious journals written by the actor. The story, conflated here to include the whole capacious life, weakens as the distance between Richard and kinfolk grows, as the family sees him only sporadically and he has them flown first-class here and there to a series of Dionysian fetes where they sing Welsh folk songs like obliging, drunken von Trapps (``Grace Kelly among others asked for several encores''). The authorial voice seems especially inauthentic when compelled to wax critical, as in ``a turgid, uninvolving war story, this was a far cry from the crisp, straightforward pleasures of The Desert Rats.'' Should have been nicely bound (if not gagged) and brought out just for the family on St. David's Day. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
On the evidence presented here, both the author and Burton (ne Jenkins) himself perceived the late actor as a devoted member of his large, chauvinistic Welsh family. This is the thrust of retired police inspector Jenkins's rather prim book that otherwise mainly repeats widely circulated accounts of "Richie" before his death at age 58 in 1984. Again the reader finds the gifted youth leaving his native Welsh valley with help from his mentor, Philip Burton, and rising to international fame in classic stage performances before the scandal of his affair with Elizabeth Taylor turned media spotlights on them. The author, assisted by his daughter, quotes reviews of Burton's live and film roles, among them Becket , Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? and Equus. The familiar facts are here but the writing comes alive only in excerpts quoted from Emlyn Williams, John Gielgud, other colleagues of Burton and from letters by the performer himself. Photos.
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Book Description Random House UK, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110712657681