Yesterday was another terrible day. I behaved in a way to make a banshee look kind good and sweet. Insulting Elizabeth, drunk, periodically excusing myself rather shabbily and then starting the rough treatment all over again. Sometimes I am so much my father’s son that I give myself occasional creeps. He had the same gift for damaging with the tongue, he had the same temporary violence, he had the same fidelity to mam that I have to Elizabeth, he had the same smattering of scholarship, he had the same didactitism (bet I spelled that wrong), we wave the same admonitory finger at innocence when we know bloody well when we are guilt-ridden.I know South Walians are supposed to affirm that he forged the uncreated conscience of their race in the smithy of his soul but, just between ourselves, I have always found Richard Burton the most colossal boor.
I'll grant that as an actor he was sufficiently schooled always to chew the scenery thoroughly before he swallowed, but is that really enough to sustain the legend?
In his favour, however, as a self-loathing misanthropist (though sufficiently self-aggrandizing to find crowned heads hidebound and rivals rustic) he does appear to have been an entertainingly waspish diarist.
I love Larry [Olivier] but he really is a shallow little man with a mediocre intelligence but a splendid salesman. 13 September 1971