Tuesday, March 26, 2013


     Spent the day in bed with Richard Burton, reading his diaries.  I had seen him in the flesh only once, snuggling Susie Strasberg in the corner of the Baq Room, Janice Mars' club given to her, rented, really, by all her friends and supporters, from Marlon to Maureen.  Susan and Richard were lovers, arranged by mom Paula Strasberg who wanted her daughter not to be flailing about the sexual byways, so started her off with what was, supposedly, the best.  Helen Hayes who was with them in the play they all did together, the title of which I can't remember(was it Time Remembered?) Someone caught Helen Hayes with her ear to the vent listening to them making love before the curtain rose on the less interesting action.
     My other experience with Burton was imagining him on the other end of the phone in Elizabeth's house on Cordell Road rented from Tom Tryon, papered in the bedroom with metallic silver that had her reflection in it everywhere she looked, while she also watched herself on television--that she rented in Hollywood when we were friends.  She would be on the phone with him all the time, helping him out of his financial difficulties, it sounded like, overcoming what had to be her swallowed rage at his courting Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, for whom she was also advising him what presents to give. Or buy, I'm not really sure, because it sounded at the time like he might be broke, and Liz, which you weren't allowed to call her, was lifting him out of his difficulties, trying to help him land the princess which I don't think she really wanted him to do.
   So it is really interesting to get to know him through his own words which are charged and highly intelligent: can't believe how much he read, and that my own eyes which are tired and need Dr. Lee, are scarfing up all these actorly pages instead of reading the excellent thinkers he did.  But the words, I must admit, are lively and sharp, which I have to imagine he was, and, over and over again, admittedly, crazy in love with Elizabeth.
    I stopped in Puerto Vallarta on one of my journeys for the Journal, and went back to the house I had rented on an earlier trip there after Don died, that had been a rental for them.  It was totally overgrown, abandoned, choked with weeds and a tree that had invaded its heart, pushing out windows and part of the roof.  I must admit that is probably what has become of the world's interest in the two of them.  
     The publisher of this enormous volume-- Burton was, apparently, never at a loss for words-- is the Yale University Press, so someone intellectual must have had a real interest in their romance.  I don't know what I paid for the book-- it came from Alibris, who did not bother enclosing the price in its statement.  But I would have to guess, pessimistically, that whoever was the agent who sold it must be disappointed, as the world has changed in disgusting ways, and, as I pointed out to my own sorrow, more people know the Kardashians than Robert Di Niro.  Of all those who were their friends and advocates and heavy rollers in Hollywood and the world, like-- can you top this? the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for whom Burton did not much care-- few are left alive.  And fewer still are those who buy books about stars who are not Honey Boo Boo.