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Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton's 'vulgar' romance a 'surreal fantasy' of yachts and diamonds: book

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton's 'vulgar' romance a 'surreal fantasy' of yachts and diamonds: book

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton's 'vulgar' romance a 'surreal fantasy' of yachts and diamonds: book

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton's 'vulgar' romance a 'surreal fantasy' of yachts and diamonds: book

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton's 'vulgar' romance a 'surreal fantasy' of yachts and diamonds: book
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton's 'vulgar' romance a 'surreal fantasy' of yachts and diamonds: book
by: foxnews.com
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For Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, there wasn’t enough money in Hollywood to satisfy their lust for life — and each other.

The couple, two of the biggest stars in their day, traveled the world, and no expense was too much for their lavish lifestyle.

"We will never have stars like them again," Roger Lewis told Fox News Digital. "Their romance was so vulgar in so many ways, which makes it fascinating. It was a surreal fantasy."


Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton laying in bed together

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's romance is something we will never witness in Hollywood again, author Roger Lewis says. (Bob PENN/Gamma-Rapho)

The author has written a new book, "Erotic Vagrancy," which explores the heated love affair that resulted in two marriages — and two divorces.

"They never settled down into domestic day-to-day harmony," Lewis explained. "It was one big fight after another all the time. I think it’s because they drank a lot in those days. We’re talking about the ‘60s and ‘70s. There were loads of vodka on the movie sets. 

"And that surprised me — how undisciplined they could be. This was all facilitated by this huge entourage of lawyers, accountants, secretaries, makeup artists, wardrobe people, people to look after their children and people to look after their pets.

A close-up of Elizabeth Taylor wearing a low cut dress and diamonds

Elizabeth Taylor wears the Taylor-Burton diamond on a necklace at the 1970 Oscar Ball at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.  (Frank Edwards)

"It was just an insane royal court that traveled around the world with mink coats and private airplanes," Lewis shared. "This was all captured by paparazzi. It was a level of fame that I don’t think exists today. I view Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor as French aristocrats who caused the French Revolution. They were that extreme."

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor looking at each other on the set of Cleopatra

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had an affair while filming "Cleopatra." (Getty Images)

Taylor and Burton famously began a tumultuous affair in Rome on the set of 1963’s "Cleopatra." Taylor was married to husband No. 4, singer Eddie Fisher, who divorced her pal, Debbie Reynolds, following the death of spouse No. 3, Mike Todd. Burton was married to Welsh actress Sybil Williams, but his reputation as a womanizer was well-known.

The romance between Taylor and Burton created a worldwide scandal. A member of Congress even introduced a motion to ban them from the U.S., and the Vatican condemned the pair for "erotic vagrancy."

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton laying in bed together

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton "would sneak off for dirty weekends," Roger Lewis alleged. (Getty Images)

"They would sneak off for dirty weekends," Lewis explained. "They were in their reality of lust.

"And whenever Burton thought, ‘I’ve got to get back to Sybil, this is getting ridiculous,’ Taylor would have an overdose," Lewis alleged. "Meanwhile, Eddie Fisher was trying to control her, and she hated that. She didn’t want anyone telling her what she could or couldn’t do. … It was just chaos."


Richard Burton looking at Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor as Elizabeth Taylor stares adoringly at him

Elizabeth Taylor sits in Eddie Fisher's lap on the set of "Cleopatra" while Richard Burton looks on. Taylor would soon leave Fisher for Burton. (Getty Images)

Taylor and Burton left their spouses and said "I do" to each other in 1964.

No expense was too great for the pair to prove their devotion. Taylor gave Burton a Van Gogh, while he showered her with jewels. He gifted her the Krupp diamond, as well as a 25-carat, heart-shaped pendant of diamonds, rubies and emeralds originally made for the bride of the man who built the Taj Mahal, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

According to the outlet, Burton also outbid shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis for a $1.1 million, 69-carat Cartier diamond ring.

A close-up of Elizabeth Taylors Cartier ring

Close-up view of a 69.2-carat Cartier diamond in a red case, which was sold at auction for $1,050,000 in 1969 and subsequently purchased by actor Richard Burton for his wife Elizabeth Taylor. (Hulton Archive)

"They had a whole network of bodyguards around them and limousines to transfer them everywhere," said Lewis. "Hotels would have the lobby cleared for them just so they could go to their private suite. And they wouldn’t just have a suite in a hotel. 

"They would take over the entire floor of a hotel and have armed guards around them. As a consequence of their fame, real life vanished. Everything suddenly became a fantasy existence of money, private yachts, diamonds and spending sprees."

Elizabeth Taylor showing off her diamond ring

Elizabeth Taylor showing off one of many diamonds given to her by Richard Burton. (Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone)

Lewis said the couple would travel with up to 156 suitcases because "Taylor never wore the same outfit twice." They also had a team at the ready to unpack their luggage. During a visit to the Hotel Lancaster in Paris, they booked 21 rooms for themselves. 

Their pet dogs would also travel with them to restaurants and be fed from the menu. One of their luxury yachts, the Kalizma, featured "an armory containing submachine guns." Its furniture and rugs were replaced every six months. Their dogs even allegedly had their own boat.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on their private yacht

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were known for their private yachts as they traveled with their entourage. (Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone)

On set, no one was to greet the Burtons unless they made the first move, Lewis claimed. The instructions were printed and given to everyone. Taylor’s dressing room had to be filled with "bushels of white roses and lily of the valley." They wouldn’t work before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

"Richard’s old pals couldn’t reach him anymore because the phones were now monitored by assistants," Lewis claimed. "Their mail was vetted by secretaries, and it was all just thrown away because there was so much of it. They didn’t even bother to open it. So many of his old mates were unable to reach him. And I think this made him very lonely. But these two people were cut off from the real world."


Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor holding onto their dogs

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton traveled with their numerous dogs. None were house-trained. (Bob Aylott/Keystone)

But one thing the couple surrounded themselves with were dogs, said Lewis, comparing it to Queen Elizabeth II’s love of corgis.

"Elizabeth Taylor loved animals because it gave her unconditional love," said Lewis. "They had all sorts of pets that would go with them to hotels and yachts. They even got this enormous yacht just for the dogs, which was like a floating kennel. None of them were house-trained. Elizabeth would simply say, ‘Just replace the carpets.’ If there was an awful mess, she would have the entire room redecorated with new carpet and things."

The couple loved and fought hard. Lewis said Taylor gave Burton "the terrors," which he documented in his diaries.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fighting

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor loved and fought hard. (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

"Their fights were physical," Lewis said. "They would bash each other. … I think they got bored and would poke at each other. There was also this competitiveness. But all the fighting would end up in the bedroom, which would get them energized all over again. This went on for years, all in front of their servants and paid retainers. It was a very extreme relationship."

Elizabeth Taylor wearing emeralds and diamonds next to Richard Burton

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1960s. (API/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho)

"And Elizabeth stood her ground," Lewis continued. "She never backed down. And I admire her for that. It’s very easy to be critical of these spoiled beasts, these movie stars. But there is something amazingly admirable about their energy and the way they deploy it."

The relationship was doomed. Taylor’s addiction to pills and Burton’s alcoholism contributed to their divorce in 1974 after 10 years of marriage. Taylor soon called Burton and asked him, "Do you think we just made a terrible mistake?" They remarried the following year and called it quits for good less than 12 months later.


Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton holding drinks at the table

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton attempted to make the marriage work twice. (Angelo Deligio/Mondadori)

Lewis said the pair remained the loves of each other’s lives. Taylor once said, "I was still madly in love with him until the day he died."

Burton died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1984. He was 58.

"Elizabeth Taylor didn’t go to the funeral because she thought it would attract too much publicity and would be inappropriate," said Lewis. "But a few days later, at dawn, she went to the graveyard on her own to pray at his grave. She said, ‘That was the only time that Richard and I were ever alone.’ … It was only when he was in the grave, and she was with him at the graveyard, that they had privacy at long last."

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton kissing on their wedding day

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. (Hulton Archive)

Taylor kept Burton’s last letter, which was written to her three days before his death, in her bedside drawer. It stayed there until she died in 2011 at age 79.

Book cover for Erotic Vagrancy

"Erotic Vagrancy: Everything about Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor" by Roger Lewis is in bookstores. (Mobius)

"I truly believe there was absolute devotion there," said Lewis. "It was much more than a big love affair. Beyond question, they were the loves of each other’s lives. Even when you look at photos of them today … they devoured each other with their gazes. It was a pulverizing love that … became dangerous. But there’s no doubt that the love was there. It never left."

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