Actor. He is best remembered for his roles in such movies as "Cleopatra" (1963), "Where Eagles Dare" (1971), "Raid on Rommel" (1973), as the voice of Sir Winston Churchill in the television series, "The Valiant Years," and for being married to Actress Elizabeth Taylor twice. Born in Pontrhydyfen, Wales, as Richard Walter Jenkins, Jr, he would take his stage name from his former schoolteacher, Philip Burton, and grew up speaking Cymraeg (Welsh) as well as English. The twelfth of thirteen children to a poor Welsh miner, he believed that the way out of an impoverished Welsh living was to read, and he was always reading books. With the help of Philip Burton, he received a scholarship to Oxford University and studied acting. He made his first stage appearance in 1943, while in the Royal Navy during World War II, and began his acting career in 1947. He played in several British films in the late 1950s, but his star status began with his role of King Arthur in the Broadway version of "Camelot" (1960), which earned him a Tony Award, and his role of Marc Anthony in "Cleopatra" (1963). During the filming of "Cleopatra" he had an affair with actress Elizabeth Taylor, and eventually they both divorced their spouses to marry each other, and became headline objects for the Tabloids thereafter. For several years, the team of Burton-Taylor was hot at the box office, and they made several films together, including "The VIPs" (1963), "The Sandpiper" (1965), "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966), and "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967). Burton was honored with seven Oscar nominations, but never won. In 1970, he was awarded the Commander of the British Empire (CBE). He was married five times (twice to Elizabeth Taylor), and had two children. He died in Geneva, Switzerland, of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a week before he was to begin reprising his role of Colonel Allen Faulkner in "Wild Geese II," the sequel to his successful role in "The Wild Geese" (1978), and the film was dedicated to his memory. He once said about himself, "I rather like my reputation, actually, that of a spoiled genius from the Welsh gutter, a drunk, a womanizer; it's rather an attractive image."
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson