Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton: The Lives and Careers of Britain's Most Famous Shakespearean Actors, Charles River Editors
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Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton: The Lives and Careers of Britain's Most Famous Shakespearean Actors

Author: Charles River Editors

Narrator: Michelle Humphries

Unabridged: 2 hr 18 min

Format: Digital Audiobook

Publisher: Findaway Voices

Published: 03/04/2023

Genre: Biography & Autobiography - Entertainment & Performing Arts


Of all the great actors of the 20th century, none personifies acting royalty more than Laurence Olivier, and some of this is simply due to the fact that he was actually knighted in 1947, along with a lengthy list of other honors that include being named a life peer in 1970 and admission to the Order of Merit in 1984. To speak of The Right Honourable Lord Laurence Olivier is not a figure of speech but rather a fact. Of course, in addition to the literal sense of the term, there is undeniably a manner in which Laurence Olivier qualifies as acting royalty, as it is not for nothing that Spencer Tracy once referred to Olivier as “the greatest actor in the English-speaking world” (Bacall). It is also important to note that Tracy refers to Olivier not as a film or theater actor specifically, because much of Olivier’s lofty standing derives from his ability to successfully navigate different mediums like stage, film, and television. The breadth of mediums in which he worked, the various roles he inhabited within them (actor, producer, director), and the formidable time span of his career lend Olivier’s career a scope of perhaps unmatched magnitude.  

In the 1960s, the most popular actor in the world was Richard Burton, a hard-drinking Welshman who was nevertheless so professional that he was one of the preeminent stage performers of his day. In fact, he performed Shakespeare so magnificently that he was compared to British legend Laurence Olivier, and that success ultimately led to a film career that earned him 7 Academy Award nominations, as well as BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for Best Actor. Given his accomplishments on the stage and in Hollywood, Burton became one of the world’s most recognizable leading men, so it seemed fitting that he engaged in one of Hollywood’s most legendary romances with Elizabeth Taylor.


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