No tears for Liz where Burton's body waits in vain

Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:25am EDT
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By Andrew Callus

CELIGNY, Switzerland (Reuters) - She survived him by a quarter of a century and sought the limelight he shunned, yet in their adopted Swiss village home, it is Elizabeth Taylor's leading man and husband Richard Burton who is best remembered.

According to celebrity folklore, the pair were to have been reunited in death, and Burton, the British actor she married and divorced twice, lies buried here in Celigny, Switzerland.

Yet when Taylor died last week of congestive heart failure she was laid to rest in Los Angeles, leaving Burton alone in his quiet rural grave a few hundred meters (yards) from Lake Geneva.

The villagers of pretty but unremarkable Celigny are not surprised.

"She didn't come here much," says Jaqueline Esseiva, 78, a lifelong resident of this village where the hard-drinking Burton died of a stroke in 1984.

"It wasn't elegant enough for her. Too simple. Him though, he was friendly. No airs and graces."

Esseiva's English-born postmistress mother used to chat with Burton, who spoke no French, but frequented the village's two main bars in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s.

He was a popular figure with children, who were allowed to play with the electric windows on his black Cadillac. Locals say he once hit a wall near the square in the car after one of his famous drinking bouts. Taxi drivers remember him stumbling into their vehicles, while Swiss newspapers have reported restaurant owners recalling quarrels with Taylor over dinner.   Continued...

<p>The grave of the late actor Richard Burton is pictured in the old cemetery in Celigny, 20 km (12 miles) east of Geneva March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>