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  • Richard Burton's letters to Elizabeth Taylor in new Vanity Fair

    Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 'Cleopatra.' (1963)

    Elizabeth Taylor reveals never-before-seen letters from her husband Richard Burton in the July issue of Vanity Fair magazine.

    One letter is the last Burton ever sent her, one she received after she had attended his memorial service following his sudden death from a brain hemorrhage in 1984.

    She said she keeps it by her bed, and read it to the magazine.

    According to a press release publicizing the July issue, in the letter Burton said he had been his happiest when with her, and wondered “Was it possible? Could there be another chance? For him? For them?”

    SLIDESHOW: Elizabeth Taylor’s Eight “I Do’s.”

    It was not to be as Burton mailed the letter on August 2, 1984, and then died on August 5. The letter was “waiting for Taylor when she returned from London, after attending his memorial service. She unfolded the letter and read it with trembling hands.”

    “Richard was magnificent in every sense of the word,” Taylor tells the magazine. “And in everything he ever did…. He was the kindest, funniest, and most gentle father. All my kids worshipped him. Attentive, loving, that was Richard … from those first moments in Rome we were always madly and powerfully in love. We had more time but not enough.”

    Burton and Taylor were married twice, first in 1964, and again in 1975, 16 months after their first divorce. Their second marriage lasted less than a year.

    According to the article, Taylor’s still unfinished memoir has a harrowing account of her then-husband Eddie Fisher finding out about her affair with Richard Burton on the set of “Cleopatra.” Taylor said she woke to find Fisher pointing the gun at her head. “Don’t worry, Elizabeth,” she claims she heard him say. “I’m not going to kill you. You’re too beautiful.”

    When asked about Taylor’s account of the incident, the 81-year-old Fisher said, “The past is one son of a bitch.”

    Here are some more highlights from Burton’s letters:

    On love: “One of these days I will wake up–which I think I have done already–and realize to myself that I really do love. I find it very difficult to allow my whole life to rest on the existence of another creature. I find it equally difficult, because of my innate arrogance, to believe in the idea of love. There is no such thing, I say to myself. There is lust, of course, and usage, and jealousy, and desire and spent powers, but no such thing as the idiocy of love. Who invented that concept? I have wracked my shabby brains and can find no answer.”

    On acting: “I have never quite got over the fact that I thought and I’m afraid I still do think, that ‘acting’ for a man–a really proper man–is sissified and faintly ridiculous. I will do this film with Ponti and Loren out of sheer cupidity–desire for money. I will unques­tionably do many more. But my heart, unlike yours, is not in it.”

    On their relationship: “You must know, of course, how much I love you. You must know, of course, how badly I treat you. But the fundamental and most vicious, swinish, murderous, and unchangeable fact is that we totally misunderstand each other … we operate on alien wave­lengths. You are as distant as Venus–planet, I mean–and I am tone-deaf to the music of the spheres. But how-so-be-it nevertheless. (A cliché among Welsh politicians.) I love you and I always will. Come back to me as soon as you can … “

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