Richard Burton was a Welsh stage and cinema actor noted for his mellifluous baritone voice and his acting talent. Establishing himself as a formidable Shakespearean actor in the 1950s, with a memorable performance of Hamlet in 1964, Burton was called "the natural successor to Olivier" by critic and dramaturg Kenneth Tynan. An alcoholic, Burton's failure to live up to those expectations disappointed critics and colleagues and fueled his legend as a great thespian wastrel.
Burton was nominated seven times for an Academy Award without ever winning. He was a recipient of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Tony Awards for Best Actor. In the mid-1960s Burton ascended into the ranks of the top box office stars, and by the late 1960s 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 remains closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. The couple's turbulent relationship was rarely out of the news.