The dishevelled stranger on the street was one of the world’s most famous actors

Family Fortunes: ‘Darling,’ he called as he opened the apartment door. A stunningly beautiful woman appeared, her eyes, a lustrous violet

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor waiting at Dublin Airport  after he played the lead role in  ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’. Photograph: Jimmy McCormack

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor waiting at Dublin Airport after he played the lead role in ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’. Photograph: Jimmy McCormack

 

It was March, 1965, about nine o’clock in the evening. Kay and I were just finishing our meal when a sudden cold draught caused us to look towards the open door. A man of medium height, hatless, collar turned up against the wind and rain entered the small restaurant situated just outside Bray on the Dublin road.

He strode across the dining room to the cash desk and spoke to the waitress in a low modulated voice, an English accent perhaps – we could not really hear what he said except for the word taxi. He went to a public telephone on the wall near us and dialled a number. A short conversation ensued, again we heard the word taxi – then an exclamation of, “an hour”. He put the phone back, walked to the door and out into the wind and rain.

We paid our bill – dashed to the car and turned towards Dublin. Within a short distance the headlights picked out the figure of the man from the restaurant, walking towards the city.

Should I offer him a lift?

Why not?

“How very kind of you,” he said, and we were on our way. He said he was going into Dublin and so were we – he would be most grateful. He said his name was Richard. “Taxis,” he said, “were quite impossible, virtually unobtainable, and in this weather” and so we continued with light conversation.

After a short while he asked if we would be passing a public house – he needed to make a phone call and perhaps we would join him for a drink. The Horse and Hounds in Cabinteely was ahead, and so during a quick drink we discussed the Rugby match due to take place the following day between Ireland and Wales.

When we reached the city centre he told us he was staying in the Gresham Hotel and he would very much like us to come in and meet his wife. In spite of looking somewhat dishevelled, he was beginning to look familiar, and we were intrigued.

We entered the lift and I noticed the button he pressed was for the Penthouse.

“Darling,” he called as he opened the apartment door. A stunningly beautiful woman appeared, her eyes, a lustrous violet.

“Elizabeth,” he said I would like you to meet Kay and Tom.

So began our evening with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

(We later learnt that the feature film The spy who came in from the cold was being shot in Ardmore Studios outside Bray during that period. Richard Burton was playing the leading role. We didn’t recognise him perhaps because he was pretty wet and dishevelled. Why he was walking, he didn’t say and we didn’t ask.)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.