8 Decades of The Hollywood Reporter
Though deceased, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton have a hard time staying out of the news. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the Edward Albee play they made famous on screen, is again a Broadway hit, and Liz & Dick, Lifetime's Lindsay Lohan telepic, premieres Nov. 25. The Taylor/Burton romance has been media catnip since they began an affair on the set of Cleopatra in 1961. Taylor, 29, the former child star who made the transition to screen siren, had already been married four times; her then-husband, singer Eddie Fisher, had dumped his wife, actress Debbie Reynolds, with whom he had two children (one was Carrie Fisher), to be with her. Burton was a 35-year-old married Welshman who'd done Camelot on Broadway. He played Mark Antony to her Egyptian queen in the $44 million -- $300 million today -- epic that almost bankrupted Fox. (Today's equivalent would be if Angelina Jolie split up with Brad Pitt while making a box-office disaster with Robert Pattinson.) In his diary (a collection of his entries was just published), Burton described the first time he saw Taylor, at a swimming pool: "Her breasts were apocalyptic, they would topple empires." The press couldn't get enough of the scandal, even down to the Vatican newspaper accusing Taylor of "erotic vagrancy." She and Burton went on to be married (twice); Fox unloaded its backlot, where Century City now sits, to get the film made; and Cleopatra eked out a profit when the TV rights were sold in 1966 for $5 million.''