Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century

( 81 )

Overview

The definitive story of Hollywood's most famous couple

He was a tough-guy Welshman softened by the affections of a breathtakingly beautiful woman; she was a modern-day Cleopatra madly in love with her own Mark Antony. For nearly a quarter of a century, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were Hollywood royalty, and their fiery romance-often called "the marriage of the century"-was the most notorious, publicized, and celebrated love affair of ...

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Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century

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Overview

The definitive story of Hollywood's most famous couple

He was a tough-guy Welshman softened by the affections of a breathtakingly beautiful woman; she was a modern-day Cleopatra madly in love with her own Mark Antony. For nearly a quarter of a century, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were Hollywood royalty, and their fiery romance-often called "the marriage of the century"-was the most notorious, publicized, and celebrated love affair of its day.

For the first time, Vanity Fair contributing editor Sam Kashner and acclaimed biographer Nancy Schoenberger tell the complete story of this larger-than-life couple, showing how their romance and two marriages commanded the attention of the world. Also for the first time, in exclusive access given to the authors, Elizabeth Taylor herself gives never-revealed details and firsthand accounts of her life with Burton.

Drawing upon brand-new information and interviews-and on Burton's private, passionate, and heartbreaking letters to Taylor-Furious Love sheds new light on the movies, the sex, the scandal, the fame, the brawls, the booze, the bitter separations, and, of course, the fabled jewels. It offers an intimate glimpse into Elizabeth and Richard's privileged world and their elite circle of friends, among them Princess Grace, Montgomery Clift, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Peter O'Toole, Michael Caine, Marlon Brando, Rex Harrison, Mike Nichols, Laurence Olivier, Robert Kennedy, Tennessee Williams, Noel Coward, John Huston, Ava Gardner, the Rothschilds, Maria Callas, and Aristotle Onassis. It provides an entertaining, eye-opening look at their films, their wildly lucrative reign in Europe and in Hollywood-and the price they paid for their extravagant lives.

Shocking and unsparing in its honesty, Furious Love explores the very public marriage of "Liz and Dick" as well as the private struggles of Elizabeth and Richard, including Le Scandale, their affair on the set of the notorious epic Cleopatra that earned them condemnation from the Vatican; Burton's hardscrabble youth in Wales; the crippling alcoholism that nearly destroyed his career and contributed to his early death; the medical issues that plagued both him and Elizabeth; and the failed aspirations and shame that haunted him throughout their relationship. As Kashner and Schoenberger illuminate the events and choices that shaped this illustrious couple's story, they demonstrate how the legendary pair presaged America's changing attitudes toward sex, marriage, morality, and celebrity. Yet ultimately, as the authors show, Elizabeth and Richard shared something priceless beyond the drama: enduring love.

Addictive and entertaining, Furious Love is more than a celebrity biography; it's an honest yet sympathetic portrait of a man, a woman, and a passion that shocked and mesmerized the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Life outdoes movie melodrama in this raucous, intimate, dual biography of Hollywood's ultimate “It Couple.” As told by journalist Kashner (Sinatraland) and biographer Schoenberger (Dangerous Muse: The Life of Caroline Blackwood), the romance between the glittering Tinseltown diva and the sonorous, self-loathing Shakespearean reprises their co-starring movie roles: it has the passion of Cleopatra (the Vatican condemned their on-set adultery as “erotic vagrancy”), the riotous merriment of The Taming of the Shrew, the poisonous marital fights of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and a cast of thousands of paparazzi and shrieking fans. The well-researched narrative—the authors make good use of Burton's engaging love letters and diary entries—offers juicy details of his epic alcoholism and her towering tantrums, and is fascinated with the jewelry pieces, like the Taj Mahal diamond that Taylor famously extracted from Burton as tribute or penance. But from the binges and bling emerges a revealing portrait of the magnetic qualities—her vulgar warmth, his soulful virility—that glued the couple together. Here is that rare love story that holds one's interest beyond the wedding—and a reminder, after the thin gruel of Brangelina, of what a feast celebrity can be. Photos. (June 1)
Wall Street Journal
“[An] entertaining, blow-by-blow account of the life and times of an epic Hollywood couple... There is no shortage of saucy anecdotes in Furious Love...”
USA Today
“[An] unfailingly respectful and journalistically honest chronicle. . . . Where this book breaks ground is in its ability to humanize these colossal celebs. . . . Reads like a Shakespearean drama.”
Library Journal
When Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starred together in Cleopatra in the early Sixties, they began a romance that shocked the world, and the public could not get enough of "le scandale" (as Burton coined it). Because they were married to other people and flaunted their relationship, they were denounced by the Vatican and some in the U.S. House of Representatives. They eventually wed, and for a quarter of a century their tempestuous on-again, off-again love affair continued to make headlines. Despite their occasionally over-the-top prose (e.g., "And now, suddenly, Elizabeth would be playing love scenes with this devastating Welshman, made vulnerable by drink, a god brought down to earth, whose need for alcohol translated into a ravishing thirst for life"), biographers Kashner and Schoenberger (coauthors, A Talent for Genius: The Life and Time of Oscar Levant) have written a fascinating book that includes new research and interviews (Taylor shared Burton's love letters) and captures the glamour of a bygone era. VERDICT This well-researched dual biography is juicy enough for any celebrity bio maven. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/10.]—Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA
Kirkus Reviews
Vanity Fair and Esquire contributor Kashner and Schoenberger (Creative Writing; William and Mary; Hollywood Kryptonite, the Bulldog, the Lady, and the Death of Superman, 2006, etc.) examine the union of Hollywood actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, larger-than-life figures who inspired the fevered fascination of their public and presaged the current age of media obsession with the private lives of celebrities. Burton and Taylor were no strangers to notoriety before their fated meeting on the notoriously troubled production of their film Cleopatra (1963). When the two married stars brazenly flouted their new romance, a scandal of international proportions was born, prompting a media obsession with the couple that endured for decades. The Burtons gave good value. Their many health crises, career reversals, jet-set milieu, fabled screaming matches, sexual provocations and indulgences in luxury provided ample grist for the gossip mill, creating a virtual cottage industry out of Burton-watching. The authors' view of the star-crossed thespians is overly sympathetic, detecting poetic depths of tragedy in behaviors that will likely strike the average reader as grotesquely immature, selfish and gratingly repetitive. The Burtons squabbled, made conspicuous love, occasionally made indifferent or outright poor films and spent lavishly on jewels, houses, yachts and oceans of alcohol. The glamour of their lifestyle begins to pall as it becomes evident that the couple was essentially a pair of privileged toddlers, indulging whims and throwing tantrums before a raptly scandalized world audience. The book is really Burton's story, and the authors provide solid material on his humble upbringing, large, close family and his early incandescent stage career. Also compelling are the many excerpts from Burton's personal correspondence, revealing an intelligent, articulate man hobbled by maudlin self-loathing and weakness of character. Taylor remains the remote, regal movie star, coddled and indulged since early childhood. Her monstrous sense of entitlement is easy to understand but difficult to stomach. The Burtons made significant contributions to cinema, but this book's focus on their romance seems misplaced. In the words of Burton's beloved Shakespeare, their story is merely full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. A well-researched but critically toothless and ultimately depressing record of epic vulgarity and emotional incontinence. Author appearances in Los Angeles and New York. Agent: David Kuhn/Kuhn Projects
Ada Calhoun
…an indulgent, plenty-of-fun book about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's traveling circus of money, booze and mutual obsession…There's a lesson here for couples: marriage doesn't have to be a partnership of equals. It can be a bodice-ripping, booze-soaked, jewel-bedecked brawl that survives even death. It's a tough way to live, but it makes for a good beach book.
—The New York Times
USA Today
“[An] unfailingly respectful and journalistically honest chronicle. . . . Where this book breaks ground is in its ability to humanize these colossal celebs. . . . Reads like a Shakespearean drama.”
Wall Street Journal
“[An] entertaining, blow-by-blow account of the life and times of an epic Hollywood couple... There is no shortage of saucy anecdotes in Furious Love...”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“[A] five-alarm blaze of a biography that enthralls like an Olympian epic. . . . The authors make an excellent case that each deepened the other’s craft. . . . A vivid portrait of this...two-career marriage on steroids.”
New York Times Book Review
“An indulgent, plenty-of-fun book...the authors make shrewd observations...juicy…a good beach book.”
Boston Globe
“I fell for Furious Love, hook, line and sinker... Ultimately Furious Love is utterly persuasive on the ineffable force of ‘the most notorious, publicized, celebrated, and vilified love affair of its day,’ offering a powerful portrait of the ecstasies and travails of overreaching passion and crippled psyches...”
Douglas Brinkley
“Long before there was Brangelina, the high-wire romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton rocked the world. In Furious Love, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger provide dramatic historical insights into Hollywood’s stormiest, up-and-down relationship. Every page is riveting. A hit book for sure!”
Patricia Bosworth
“Exciting and well-written, fast-paced yet containing a wealth of information, Furious Love is a fine read.”
Kate Walsh
“[Furious Love] is fascinating, heartbreaking, and romantic.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061562846
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/15/2010
  • Pages: 500
  • Sales rank: 591,491
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Sam Kashner, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, is the author of three books of nonfiction and one novel, Sinatraland.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 Le Scandale 1

2 Very Important People 35

3 A Year in the Sun 61

4 No More Marriages 89

5 In from the Cold 109

6 Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor? 133

7 Married Love 157

8 Seduced by Faust 185

9 Boom! 211

10 The Only Game in Town 235

11 "Rings and Farthingales" 257

12 Fallen Stars 281

13 Bluebeard 309

14 Divorce His Divorce Hers 337

15 Massacre in Rome 365

16 Private Lives 395

Epilogue 427

Acknowledgments 439

Two Poems by Richard Burton 443

Endnotes 447

Bibliography 475

Index 481

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 81 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(28)

4 Star

(21)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 81 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2010

    RIVETING !!!!

    I don't usually read biographies and I was only a casual fan of Elizabeth Taylor -- I read of her "adventures, marriages, illnesses, etc. but I wasn't what I would call a real follower of her films and her life. However, I could not put this book down, and I gained a great respect for her after reading it - for her strength, her dignity and her kindnesses to her friends - she has a real inner strength -Richard Burton seemed like a tortured soul, but this book gave a real sense of the love and the unbreakable bond they shared. I actually cried when I read the last few pages - that NEVER happens to me! Their life together and even apart was very poignant- and tragic in a way - I almost hated finishing the book because I became so engrossed in their story - I would highly recommend this book not only to those of us who grew up during their Hollywood Reign, but even today's young people,to learn about the old Hollywood, the glamour, etc. and, it was funny in a way to read how scandalous their spending habits were viewed -- compared to Wall Street greed, the money the Burtons spent was nothing ! Today, your average hedge fund manager spends more and they don't even know what real glamour was.
    This book did not just portray the movie stars that they were, it gave real insight into the two of them as real people, with real love, real pain,and I think it was very well written.

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Had me furiously turning pages!

    Jun 24 2010
    By Kate Willard "Realtor" (California) - See all my reviews
    For anyone who was alive in the 1960's and 70's, we know immediately who is being referred to when we here the names "Richard & Liz." The extravagant, extended, on again, off again love affair between these two Iconic Hollywood figures was tabloid fodder for two decades. This book serves it all up on a deliciously full plate. The books style is not dry and academic, nor is it overly salacious, but it does have a gossipy enough tone that exposes all the juicy details! Ok this is not great literature, but it a fun read that is hard to put down, and I think the authors do stick to the facts (with Liz and Richard truth is stranger than fiction). In the end, their story is a sad one. It seems that their fame may have prevented them from sharing a full life together, as they obviously were in love.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Brangelina? Definitely not.

    I am not a fan of books told by people that never knew the person or never worked with them. I also never liked books where the book was written out of spite or anger. But, when I heard how this book evolved, I knew that I couldn't wait to get my copy of this book. I have always been a fan of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but their love, if you can call such intense passion that, was legendary. They had a love that rivaled even the best of the best love stories. I heard that Elizabeth Taylor isn't calling this an authorized biography, but she helped the writers. Just knowing this will help me savor the story that much more.

    I also recommend another book for sale here on BN.com, it's an inspirational book called When God Stopped Keeping Score. As a divorcee, there is something in that book that helped me move on from my failed marriage. My favorite story is the story of the mother, daughter and the rock. Then, there is the story of the mothers and the ham. Amazing. Just amazing.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2010

    FURIOUS LOVE

    VERY CAPTIVATING AND DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL TIME, FUNNY, SAD, THIS BOOK WILL TOUCH ALL YOUR EMOTIONS...ITS AS YOU ARE ALMOST THERE IN THE ROOM WITH THE TWO MOST ENDURING STARS OF OUR TIME..LOVED IT

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 28, 2012

    Loved this book. I took it with me on vacation and ate it up. I

    Loved this book. I took it with me on vacation and ate it up. I had no
    idea it would be this good, this involved and personal. I am now
    renting a lot of the movies talked about in the book as well and
    watching those in a new light. Also, the book really touched me knowing
    when this was written E Taylor was still alive. Great love story!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    A Page Turner

    A interesting book

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 15, 2011

    Dick and Liz the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of their day

    A great guilty pleasure read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2011

    Great Guilty Pleasure

    A great read that gives insight without giving excuses.
    Despite all the craziness & alcohol, these two seemed to have loved each other as best they could in the midst of spotlights.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    E-sample a disaster

    It is unfotunate that the sample is such a disaster. It repeats the first 20 pages or so at least 5 times, even within sections suddenly you are reading a section that sounds familiar!
    It is difficult to determine the quality of the writing because of the poor technical offering.
    What I did read was well-written and brought forward insights of two famous actors I saw on stage!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2013

    Good book

    400+ pages

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    boring

    Said the same things over and over again and again.Do not waste your time or money.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Great read!

    This was a great read, lots of detail and I got a broad picture of these larger than life actors and the influence they had on the world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 3, 2011

    Repetitve but entertaining

    The author jumps around the timeline a lot, and there is a lot of repetition of information, but it's still entertaining.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fun read

    Fascinating read into the original on again off again Hollywood love affair. Liz and Richard were icons of there day, old fashioned movie stars who could not live with or without each other. Fun read that brought back some memories for me!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 81 Customer Reviews

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