Richard Burton

Richard Burton

Highest Rated: 95% Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Lowest Rated: 0% The V.I.P.s (1963)

Birthday: Nov 10, 1925

Birthplace: Pontrhydyfen, Wales, UK

The 12th of 13 children of a Welsh miner, actor Richard Burton left his humble environs by winning a scholarship to Oxford. Blessed with a thrillingly theatrical voice, Burton took to the stage, and, by 1949, had been tagged as one of Britain's most promising newcomers. Director Philip Dunne, who later helmed several of Burton's Hollywood films, would recall viewing a 1949 London staging of The Lady's Not for Burning and watching in awe as star John Gielgud was eclipsed by juvenile lead Richard Burton: "He 'took' the stage and kept a firm grip on it during every one of his brief appearances." A few years after his film debut in The Last Days of Dolwyn (1949), the actor was signed by 20th Century Fox, which had hopes of turning him into the new Lawrence Olivier -- although Burton was not quite able to grip films as well as he did the stage. Aside from The Robe (1953), most of Burton's Fox films were disappointments, and the actor was unable to shake his to-the-rafters theatricality for the smaller scope of the camera lens. Still, he was handsome and self-assured, so Burton was permitted a standard-issue 1950s spectacle, Alexander the Great (1956). His own film greatness would not manifest itself until he played the dirt-under-the-nails role of Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger (1959). In this, he spoke the vernacular of regular human beings -- rather than that of high-priced, affected Hollywood screenwriters -- and delivered a jolting performance as a working-class man trapped by the system and his own personal demons. Following a well-received Broadway run in the musical Camelot, Burton was signed in 1961 to replace Stephen Boyd on the benighted film spectacular Cleopatra (1963). It probably isn't necessary to elaborate on what happened next, but the result was that Burton suddenly found himself an international celebrity, not for his acting, but for his tempestuous romance with co-star Elizabeth Taylor. A hot property at last, Burton apparently signed every long-term contract thrust in front of him, while television networks found themselves besieged with requests for screenings of such earlier Burton film "triumphs" as Prince of Players (1955) and The Rains of Ranchipur (1956). In the midst of the initial wave of notoriety, Burton appeared in a Broadway modern-dress version of Hamlet directed by John Gielgud, which played to standing-room-only crowds who were less interested in the melancholy Dane than in possibly catching a glimpse of the Lovely Liz. Amidst choice film work like Becket (1964) and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1966), Burton was also contractually obligated to appear with Taylor in such high-priced kitsch as The V.I.P.s, (1963) The Sandpiper (1965), and Boom! (1968). A few of the Burton/Taylor vehicles were excellent -- notably Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (she won an Oscar; he didn't, but should have) -- but the circus of publicity began to erode the public's ability to take Burton seriously. It became even harder when the couple divorced, remarried, and broke up again. Moreover, Burton was bound by contract to appear in such bland cinematic enterprises as Candy (1968), Villain (1971), The Assassination of Trotsky (1972), The Klansman (1974), and that rancid masterpiece Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). So low had Burton's reputation sunk that when he delivered an Oscar-caliber performance in Equus (1977), it was hailed as a "comeback," even though the actor had never left. (Once again he lost the Oscar, this time to Richard Dreyfuss.) Burton managed to recapture his old performing fire in his last moviemaking years, offering up one of his best performances in his final picture, 1984 (1984). He died later that year.

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Cleopatra 50th Anniversary Actor 2013
No Score Yet Dr. Faustus Actor Director 2012
No Score Yet König der Spione - John le Carré Actor 2012
No Score Yet Elizabeth Taylor: A Tribute Actor 2011
No Score Yet Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of 'The War of the Worlds' Actor 2006
No Score Yet Tony Palmer's Classic Film of John Osborne and the Gift of Friendship Actor 2006
79% 1984 O'Brien 1984
No Score Yet Wagner Actor 1983
No Score Yet Circle of Two Ashley St. Clair 1980
No Score Yet Lovespell Mark King of Cornwall 1979
No Score Yet Steiner - Das eiserne Kreuz, 2. Teil (Sergeant Steiner) (Breakthrough) Sgt. Steiner 1979
No Score Yet Absolution Ojciec Goddard Father Goddard 1979
63% The Wild Geese Col. Allen Faulkner 1978
No Score Yet The Medusa Touch John Morlar 1978
No Score Yet The AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards: Henry Fonda Actor 1978
63% Equus Martin Dysart 1977
15% Exorcist II: The Heretic Father Philip Lamont 1977
No Score Yet Volcano: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry Actor 1976
No Score Yet The Gathering Storm Winston Churchill 1974
25% The Klansman Breck Stancill 1974
No Score Yet The Voyage Cesare Braggi 1974
No Score Yet Brief Encounter Alec Harvey 1974
No Score Yet Massacre in Rome Lt. Col. Herbert Kappler 1973
No Score Yet Divorce His/Divorce Hers Martin Reynolds 1973
60% Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood First Voice 1973
No Score Yet Sutjeska (The Fifth Offensive) Tito 1973
No Score Yet The Assassination of Trotsky Leon Trotsky 1972
44% Bluebeard Bluebeard (Baron von Sepper) 1972
29% Hammersmith Is Out Hammersmith 1972
No Score Yet Villain Vic Dakin 1971
No Score Yet Raid on Rommel Capt. Alex Foster 1971
38% Anne of the Thousand Days King Henry VIII 1969
40% Staircase Harry 1969
91% Where Eagles Dare Maj. Jonathan Smith, MC 1969
50% Candy MacPhisto 1968
10% Doctor Faustus Director Doctor Faustus Producer 1968
20% Boom! Chris Flanders 1968
No Score Yet Wall in Jerusalem Actor 1968
27% The Comedians Brown 1967
86% The Taming of the Shrew Petruchio Producer 1967
95% Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? George 1966
29% What's New, Pussycat? Man in Bar 1965
10% The Sandpiper Dr. Edward Hewitt 1965
87% The Spy Who Came In from the Cold Alec Leamas 1965
71% The Night of the Iguana Rev. Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon 1964
95% Zulu Narrator 1964
75% Becket Thomas a Becket 1964
No Score Yet Hamlet Hamlet 1964
0% The V.I.P.s Paul Andros 1963
61% Cleopatra Mark Antony 1963
No Score Yet Midsummer Night's Dream Narrator 1963
87% The Longest Day Flight Officer Campbell 1962
No Score Yet Merv Griffin Show - 40 of the Most Interesting People of Our Time Actor 1962
No Score Yet Ice Palace Zeb Kennedy 1960
No Score Yet The Bramble Bush Dr. Guy Montford 1960
No Score Yet Sen noci svatojanske (A Midsummer Night's Dream) Actor 1959
92% Look Back in Anger Jimmy Porter 1958
No Score Yet Sea Wife Biscuit 1957
75% Bitter Victory Capt. Leith 1957
0% Alexander the Great Alexander 1956
No Score Yet The Rains of Ranchipur Dr. Major Rama Safti 1955
No Score Yet Prince Of Players Edwin Booth 1955
83% Demetrius and the Gladiators in film clip from THE ROBE 1954
No Score Yet Thursday's Children Actor 1954
33% The Robe Marcellus Gallio 1953
83% The Desert Rats Capt. 'Tammy' MacRoberts 1953
No Score Yet My Cousin Rachel Philip Ashley 1952
No Score Yet Green Grow the Rushes Robert 'Bob' Hammond 1951
No Score Yet The Last Days of Dolwyn (Women of Dolwyn) Gareth 1949


94% The Wire
Shamrock 2004
No Score Yet Great Performances
The White Knight 1983


Winston Smith says: Does Big Brother exist?

O'Brien says: Of course.

Winston Smith says: The same way as me?

O'Brien says: You do not exist.

Philip Ashley says: Rachel, my torment.

Henry VIII says: "Divorce is like killing. After the first time it doesn't seem so difficult."

Henry VIII says: Divorce is like killing. After the first time it doesn't seem so difficult.

John Smith says: "a punk. a second rate punk at that"

John Smith says: A punk. A second rate punk at that.

George says: Martha, will you show her where we keep the, er, euphemism? [meaning, the bathroom]

John Smith says: Lieutenant, in the next 15 minutes we have to create enough confusion to get out of here alive.

Lt. Morris Schaffer says: Major, right now you got me about as confused as I ever hope to be.

George says: Yes dear but you mustn't bray.

George says: Yes dear, but you mustn't bray.

Martha says: I don't braaaay!

Martha says: I don't bray!

George says: And that's how you play "Get the Guests."