During the 1962 filming of “Cleopatra” in Rome, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton began a very public affair. The two were both married to other people at the time. The scandal made headlines worldwide and was met with moral outrage.
After five months in Rome, filming moved to the island of Ischia, Italy, off the Amalfi Coast, with the paparazzi in hot pursuit. It was on Ischia that the scenes on Cleopatra’s barge were shot. The following candid photos of Elizabeth Taylor sunbathing and swimming were taken by celebrity portrait photographer Bert Stern.
That same month, the Hollywood stars visited the neighboring island of Capri as guests of entertainer Dame Gracie Field at her exclusive hotel, La Canzone Del Mare. The hotel’s name – “Singer of the Sea” – is a reference to the incredible view over the rocks below where the mythological sirens were said to have lured sailors to their deaths. The photo shown here is being shown publicly for the first time in an auction of Field’s scrapbooks.
Rumours of their relationship had been sizzling since filming of Cleopatra began the year before, but exploded that June when the scandalised Vatican accused them of ‘erotic vagrancy’ and the U.S. government threatened to ban them from the country. In the photograph, however, they look as though they haven’t a care in the world as they stroll side by side to the waterfront, him holding a cigarette in a casual white top and trousers, Taylor standing beside him in a one-piece bathing suit and cap, their hands almost brushing together.”
After the picture “Cleopatra” was completed filming the next month (July 1962), Taylor and Burton would continue their off-screen romanace. Another two and a half years would elapse before they would divorce their respective spouses and be free to marry one another. After their March 1964 wedding in Montreal at the Ritz Carlton, “the Burtons” would continue to captivate the public’s attention for the rest of the sixties, grabbing headlines, making movies together, throwing glamorous parties, having nasty public arguments, buying ridiculously large and expensive jewels and yachts, jetting here and there, and hobnobbing with royalty like the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor and other glitterati.
But by 1970, the glitter had worn off the golden couple. Their endless and needless spending and self-indulgence were wearisome and tacky. Their film reviews were terrible and their relationship was worse. They made each other miserable. They were in bad health. Both drank heavily and Elizabeth liked pills. They would divorce each other only to remarry, then divorce again.
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