Show Business: The Mellifluous Prince of Disorder

Richard Burton: 1925-1984

The magnificent baritone was not merely a voice. It was an orchestra of enormous range and power, and when it was silenced last week, its graceful sound seemed to linger on for millions who had heard it on film and stage. Homer must have known someone very much like Richard Burton. Describing Odysseus' effect on an audience in a faraway land, the poet wrote: "He ceased; but left so pleasing on the ear his voice, that list'ning still they seemed to hear."

Burton was not the greatest actor of his generation, although...

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