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Richard Burton Called Elizabeth Taylor an "Eternal One-Night Stand"

The infamous Hollywood couple had a passionate and tumultuous relationship.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton first met in Rome while filming the 1962 movie Cleopatra, in which she starred in the titular role and he played Mark Antony. Their off-screen romance became one of the most famous Hollywood couplings of all time, though it wasn't quite exactly a fairytale. Both actors were married to other people at the time—he to actor Sybil Williams and she to singer Eddie Fisher—and their public infidelity only fueled industry gossip.

The pair's relationship had its ups and downs, to put it mildly. They married first in 1964, then divorced in 1974 only to remarry a year later. In 1976, they went their separate ways for good, and both stars had plenty to say about each other and their intense love affair in the aftermath. Read on to find out why Burton once called Taylor, his wife twice over, "an eternal one-night stand."

READ THIS NEXT: Elizabeth Taylor's Affair With This Co-Star "Ruined His Career."

Their affair was condemned by the Vatican.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 1962
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Burton and Taylor's affair was a poorly kept secret on the Cleopatra set. Per The Express, when Burton showed up drunk to work, Taylor helped him drink a cup of coffee, sparking their romance. Burton later reportedly barged into the men's makeup trailer after their first dalliance, exclaiming to anyone inside that he and Taylor had just been intimate in "the back of [his] Cadillac."

When Taylor's then-husband Fisher, who was in Italy with her, packed his bags and went home, the infidelity was confirmed and became international news. Taylor and Burton's affair even bumped news of John Glenn's orbit around the Earth off of the front page of some papers, as noted by Entertainment Weekly.

The affair was so public and scandalous that the official Vatican newspaper condemned the actors in an open letter, calling their relationship "erotic vagrancy." Americans weren't particularly happy either. One Georgia congressperson petitioned the attorney general of the United States to not even let the couple back into the country, though she was unsuccessful.

"It was probably the most chaotic time of my life," Taylor told Vanity Fair in 1998. "That hasn't changed. What with le scandale, the Vatican banning me, people making threats on my life, falling madly in love … It was fun and it was dark—oceans of tears, but some good times too."

They adopted a child.

Richard Burton with children Maria, Liza, and Katherine in 1986.
Wesley/Keystone/Getty Images

Taylor and Burton were madly in love, but they never had biological children together. Taylor already had two sons with her second husband, Michael WildingMichael born in 1953, and Christopher, born in 1955. She welcomed her first daughter, Liza, with husband No. 3, Mike Todd, in 1957. Once Burton married Taylor, would go on to adopt Liza as his own. He also adopted Taylor's other daughter Maria with her, since she had started the process while still married to Fisher.

Along with his two adopted children, Burton also had two daughters with his first wife, Williams. There's Kate Burton, born in 1955, who would eventually go on to play Ellis Grey on Grey's Anatomy, and Jessica, born in 1957.

Although they tied the knot and were parents, Taylor and Burton's relationship was never about a white picket fence—it was always about passion.

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Burton called Taylor his "eternal one-night stand."

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in 1970
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Burton cataloged his life in his diaries, which were published in 2012, long after his death in 1984. In them, the actor documents the daily rollercoaster of his and Taylor's relationship. As the public understood it, their romance was founded on lust, but also defined by near-constant drunken fights and just as constant reconciliations. And the way Burton writes about Taylor doesn't appear to dispute that. "Elizabeth is an eternal one-night stand," he wrote, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. "She is my private and personal bought mistress. And lascivious with it."

But the pair also did have their fun together. In another entry (per The Daily Mail), Burton wrote, "E's just given me a graphic description of the delight of over-eating kippers and the particular joy of their repeating.She is the only woman who will tell you details of the internal workings of her body. She knows it appalls me, which is why, perversely, she enjoys telling me."

She was buried with his last letter to her.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 1970
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Despite some of their rockier moments and her six other husbands, Taylor thought of Burton as the love of her life—so much so that she was buried with his final love letter to her in 2011.

Many of their love letters are published in the 2009 book, Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century. As noted by The Daily Mail, many of them were exchanged after both of their marriages were over. "I love you, lovely woman," Burton wrote in one. "If anybody hurts you, just send me a line saying something like 'Need' or 'Necessary' or just the one magic word 'Elizabeth', and I will be there somewhat faster than sound."

Karen Fratti
Karen Fratti is an entertainment and culture writer. She went to Temple University, where she received a B.A. in English and has an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School University. Read more
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