I read How to be a Movie Star after Elizabeth Taylor passed away four years ago and was instantly taken with the story of “Liz& Dick.”
Furious Love focuses primarily on the years that Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton shared together. There is background on both of their lives leading up to Rome, 1962 and the Cleopatra set but the star attraction in this biography is the 25 years they spent loving and hating each other.
Anyone interested in the history of cinema knows the story of “Liz and Dick” but Kashner and Schoenberger dig deep and give you an all encompassing look at the frenzy they caused wherever they went. There are interviews, but primarily the use of Burton’s diaries lend personal anecdotes throughout the book.
These people were crazy.
There is a lot of excess from start to finish which added to the allure of the couple, but led to the ultimate downfall of their marriage as well as their collective public persona. They appeared in almost a dozen movies together, often playing characters that resembled themselves, by the end of it they had become parodies of themselves. Add in millions of dollars in jewelry, hard drinking, pill popping & infidelities to get a recipe for disaster. There are some comparisons to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; the level of fervor surrounding Le Scandale and the abdication of King Edward to marry Wallis Simpson. The couples were actually friendly with one another. There is a lot of excess but throughout it all Elizabeth Taylor loved Richard Burton and Richard Burton loved Elizabeth Taylor. Richard had sent a love letter to Elizabeth that arrived just a few days after his death. You can’t even make that shit up in the movies.
Other things I learned reading Furious Love: Kate Burton (Richard’s daughter with his first wife) is the actress who plays Ellis Gray on Grey’s Anatomy and was the VP on Scandal!
You don’t need to be a fan of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to appreciate what is, at its core, a true love story. Painstakingly researched and all encompassing, Furious Love is a great introduction to Elizabeth Taylor. My one complaint is there is a lot of back tracking and repetition, particularly referencing movies made during their romance.