I’ll never forget the first time I saw Richard Burton. He was playing King Arthur to Julie Andrews’ Guinevere on Broadway. “Camelot” was a play by Lerner and Lowe and, although “My Fair Lady” was a hit from the beginning, “Camelot” was somewhat struggling.
Ed Sullivan invited Richard and Julie to perform some songs from “Camelot” on his show. When I saw Richard Burton sing the title song of “Camelot”, I, and thousands of others, fell in love with this glorious actor.
Through the years, after his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor, many criticized that he never became the true success that he might have become if he had not followed the Hollywood path. But when I look back at all of his movies and body of work, from “Cleopatra”, “Taming of the Shrew”, “The Rains of Ranchipur”, and even “The V.I.P.s” and “The Sandpiper”, I see an actor who could convey convincingly any part he was asked to portray.
Too often in life, we taint our own success with beliefs that we haven’t achieved what we wanted or risen to other people’s expectations. This particular notion has tainted many lives, including that of David O. Selznick, when he tried to repeat the success of “Gone with the Wind”.
As someone who has reached a point in my life where I’m able to look back and reflect upon the good and the negative and the sweet and not so sweet, I truly believe that all the work we create should be evaluated at the end of our lives. We should never belittle any role or any contribution in a movie. In Hollywood, there have been many films that did not succeed at first, and later became cult classics. In art, there have been many artists who achieved nothing in their lifetime, only to find true and unbelievable immortality after they’re gone. So, to all the people out there like Richard Burton, who didn’t appreciate his contribution during his life, I want to say, enjoy whatever it is that you create. Time will tell you the whole story. Our opinions are only a facet.