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The death of stars: Taylor and Bernhardt in passing.

Elizabeth Taylor, a Welsh Cleopatra in ‘Under Milk Wood’.

By Andrew Sinclair.

In 1972, Dylan Thomas’s 1954 radio drama, Under Milk Wood, a “play for voices” about the inner lives of the inhabitants of Llareggub, a fictional Welsh village, was adapted for film. It starred Elizabeth Taylor; her husband Richard Burton, who had been in the original radio play; and Peter O’Toole. The director was Andrew Sinclair.

FROM MY REPUTATION, Elizabeth Taylor disliked me on sight. She felt undereducated, her husband had wanted to become a don, and I had been an academic.

In her Shepperton studio dressing-room, while making her previous film, Zee & Co., she appeared somewhat dishevelled, if that were possible. She gave me three orders before starting Under Milk Wood. Firstly, her back was too bad to take the train to Wales; I would have to film her two-day shoot in London. Secondly, it had to be at the end of the schedule, as her movie was a long way from a wrap. And although she was playing the small part (for Dylan Thomas) of a Welsh whore called Rosie Probert, she would require three Parisian nightdresses, at the cost of £600 – half our costume budget.

The next time I met her was the coup de grâce. (Continued)


Sarah Bernhardt in London, best of all possible Samaritans.

By Arthur Croxton.

IN 1913 SARAH BERNHARDT reached the apex of her theatrical career in this country. Her wonderful success in the previous season naturally led the London Coliseum’s Oswald Stoll to engage her once more for the autumn of the following year. And she was just as successful as in her birthday year. But, of course, we had to find some outstanding feature, some special means of providing for the Coliseum the social and booking-office success which was essential, considering the enormous fees which would be paid. The success of Bernhardt’s birthday year had not been forgotten. There was the old glamour attached to her name, and there was, if anything, an increased desire on the part of the British public to see the great actress for probably the last time, as rumours were current that her health might not permit her ever coming again to this country. (Continued)