26 April 2014

"I might of course have married Olivia de Havilland!"

Richard Burton's Hollywood career was launched in 1952 with the lead role in "My cousin Rachel". The man responsible for his American debut was George Cukor, who had seen Burton perform in the play "Montserrat" and wanted him to star in his new film "My cousin Rachel". Cukor himself eventually withdrew from the project (being unhappy with the script), but Richard Burton continued under Henry Koster's direction, earning himself his first Oscar nomination. 

The following note from Richard Burton to George Cukor is undated, but must have been written after 1964 when Burton married Elizabeth Taylor for the first time. In the note, Burton jokes about marrying Olivia de Havilland instead of Elizabeth. Olivia de Havilland was Richard Burton's co-star in "My cousin Rachel" and one of the leading ladies he presumably slept with (it is reported that Julie Andrews, Burton's co-star in "Camelot" on Broadway, was his only leading lady he hadn't slept with). In any case, here is Burton's note to George Cukor, whom he thought was "an infinitely wicked and lovable man as well as being, at his best, one of the very fine directors" (according to Melvyn Bragg's 1988 biography on Richard Burton): 

Source: bonhams/ image reproduced with permission

Transcript: 

Dear George,

Do you realize that if you hadn't come to see "Montserrat" I would never have met and married Elizabeth? Do you think that is a good or bad thing? I might of course have married Olivia de Havilland!

Love
Richard.  

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