“I SAY, we will have no more marriages!”
That’s from “Hamlet,” Act Three, Scene One. Back in 1964, when Richard Burton performed Shakespeare’s “Melancholy Dane” on Broadway, this line always caused a great uproar in the audience. Burton, at the time, was famously wed to the much-married Miss Elizabeth Taylor. (She would meet him after the show every night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater, bringing Times Square to a halt.)
SPEAKING OF Miss Taylor, she is highly amused by the news that she is “engaged” to marry her 49-year-old manager, Jason Winters. The story popped up on Friday, and for three days raged through the Internet, generating responses from “Good for her!” to “Too bad, she’s lost it!”
Well, I am here to tell you she has not lost it at all. Her body may be weak but her mind remains sharp and reasonable. She has no intention of marrying Jason Winters or anybody else. They are loving, platonic friends, nothing more. (When I spoke to Elizabeth in 2007, she said only that she “loved” Jason because he was a wonderful man, and he had a beautiful place in Hawaii that she enjoyed. I didn’t get the impression she was “in love” with him.)
“Elizabeth can be a bit eccentric, but no more so than she has ever been,” a source close to her told me. “She has always dressed the same, behaved the same, had the same wonderful, wacky sense of humor and great big heart. She has never lived her life to please strangers. The difference is she is now 78. And it looks different to people who don’t know her. To all her family and friends, she is as she has always been.”
The idea that Elizabeth was marrying for “companionship” struck me as rather absurd. She has a circle of deeply devoted friends and assistants, her brother Howard, four adult children who adore her, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She is not living alone in some creepy mansion, watching her old movies.
Here’s the thought I had on first hearing this utterly silly story: My friend Miz Liz is nobody’s fool. She’s always been a shrewd business mind. She’d never jeopardize her considerable fortune (in the hundreds of millions) from films, perfumes, art, jewels and property to take a chance on another Hollywood marriage when she has her kids, grandkids and her AIDS foundation to think of.
So, that’s settled.
Now for some news on La Liz. On April 29, the Great Dame will appear at Buckingham Palace to participate in a gala fundraising dinner. This event will help finance a theater being built in London that is to be named after her two-times husband, Richard Burton. It is safe to say Elizabeth loved Burton with all her heart. Enough so, that had he not died in 1984 of a stroke, she most certainly would have attempted to woo him back to her, for a third go-round. (He was married to one Sally Hay at the time, but Elizabeth always got what she wanted.)
Miss Taylor, who will be seated next to Prince Charles, has ordered a gorgeous Galliano gown, in red, to honor Richard’s Welsh heritage. And if she doesn’t sport rubies, she’ll wear the fabulous La Peregrina pearl necklace, one of Richard’s many extravagant gifts to a woman of whom he remarked, “Honestly, she’s just as excited if you give her a lipstick from the drugstore as when she gets a diamond. It’s a wonderful quality!”