Richard Burton

About Richard Burton

Richard Burton, CBE (born 10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984) was a Welsh actor. Noted for his mellifluous baritone voice, Burton established himself as a formidable Shakespearean actor in the 1950s, giving a memorable performance of ‘Hamlet’ in 1964. Burton was nominated for an Academy Award seven times, but never won an Oscar, however was a recipient of BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Tony Awards for Best Actor. In the mid-1960s, Burton ascended into the ranks of the top box office stars and, by the late 1960s, was one of the highest-paid actors in the world.

In 1943, Richard Burton played Professor Henry Higgins in a school production of ‘Pygmalion’; the role won him favourable reviews while catching the attention of the dramatist, Emlyn Williams, who offered Burton a small role in his play ‘The Druid’s Rest’. During his tenure at Exeter College of Oxford University, Burton featured as “the complicated sex-driven puritan” Angelo in a production of William Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’. The play was directed by Burton’s English literature professor and was performed in the presence of additional contributors to West End theatre, including John Gielgud, Terence Rattigan and Binkie Beaumont.

While touring with the cast and crew members of Wynyard Browne’s Dark Summer, Burton was called by Williams for a screen test for his film, ‘The Last Days of Dolwyn’. Burton performed the screen test for the role of Gareth, which Williams wrote especially for him, and was subsequently selected; this led to Burton making his mainstream film debut. 

Throughout the late 1940s and early 50s, Burton acted in small parts in various British films such as ‘Now Barabbas’ with Richard Greene and Kathleen Harrison, ‘The Woman with No Name’ opposite Phyllis Calvert, and ‘Waterfront’, also with Harrison. Learn More…

Richard Burton