Actors

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Richard Burton

Welsh actor Richard Burton (1925-1984), was in kinship care as a child and foster care as a teenager. Richard Burton was born the 12th of 13 children to Richard and Edith Jenkins. The family lived in a mining village, Pontrhydyfen, in the Afan Valley, South Wales. Edith Jenkins was 44 when she gave birth to her last child and died of puerperal fever shortly after. On the death of her mother, Cecilia Jenkins, or Cis as she was known, took the two-year-old Richard to live with her family in Port Talbot. Richard did well at school, graduating into high school at the age of 11. He also enjoyed playing sport, particularly cricket and rugby. He left school at 15 and worked in retail, but after 18 months of hating it, he went back to school. Philip Burton, a new teacher, became the boy’s mentor, encouraging him to act and stay at school. When Richard left home at 17, he moved in with Philip Burton. Noted for his mellifluous baritone voice, Burton established himself as a formidable Shakespearean actor in the 1950s, and he gave a memorable performance of Hamlet in 1964. He was called "the natural successor to Olivier" by critic and dramaturge Kenneth Tynan. An alcoholic, Burton's failure to live up to those expectations disappointed critics and colleagues and fuelled his legend as a great thespian wastrel. Burton was nominated for an Academy Award seven times, but never won an Oscar. He 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. By the late 1960s, Burton was one of the highest-paid actors in the world, receiving fees of $1 million or more plus a share of the gross receipts. Burton remained closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. The couple's turbulent relationship was rarely out of the news.