While today’s celebrity-obsessed culture worships power couples such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (in happier times), the tortured love stories of the rich and famous have long since attracted our attention. Film icons Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were perhaps one of the first couples to attract such frenzied media attention. The hollywood stars were so famous, in fact, they were the prime target of the paparazzi in the 1960s. Their dramatic, scandal-ridden love story unfolded before the world as they both fell in love with each other and the idyllic seaside town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Consequently, their huge influence as public figures turned the quiet sleepy fishing village into the booming resort destination that millions of tourists know and love today.
Burton and Taylor – The Puerto Vallarta Years
When Burton and Taylor met on the set of Cleopatra, the film legends were instantly drawn to one another, regardless of the fact that they were both married to other people at that point (he to Sybil Williams, she to Eddie Fisher). Their passion for each other seemed to outweigh any sense of duty to their respective spouses, and the press went wild over the tantalizing scandal. Richard signed on to star in director John Huston’s classic The Night of the Iguana, which would be filmed near the quiet fishing village of Puerto Vallarta, and wanted his darling Elizabeth to accompany him in the charming seaside town. Richard commuted by boat each day to the set of the movie south of Puerto Vallarta in Mismaloya near the popular landmark known as Los Arcos, which is a rock formation that dramatically juts out of the water close to the shoreline.
Burton and Taylor’s Lover’s Arch
While making the movie and in the years to follow, Burton called a beautiful casita situated in Puerto Vallarta’s Gringo Gulch neighborhood home, reveling in the spectacular views of downtown and Banderas Bay that the hillside location afforded. He thought that renting the home right across the street for Taylor, known as Casa Kimberley, was the perfect solution. He then commissioned the construction of the famous Lover’s Arch, which is a bridge that connects the two properties that can still be visited today, so they would be able to visit each other as much as they pleased while maintaining their own homes. Not only did the Lover’s Arch provide the couple with their own privacy and independence, it was a convenient escape route after their legendary fights.
Crazy about Puerto Vallarta
The couple were not just crazy about each other; they became very fond of Puerto Vallarta, and their influence helped turn the region into a sought-after destination. Elizabeth received Casa Kimberley as a birthday gift from Richard once he realized how much she loved the home. The couple remained part-time residents of Puerto Vallarta for many years after The Night of the Iguana first brought them there.
While the powerful couple did end up marrying two times, their volatile relationship eventually led to divorce, both times. Puerto Vallarta, however, was a place they never stopped loving. The tropical, sunny vacation spot is now a world-class destination thanks in large part to Burton and Taylor, and of course John Huston for choosing to film The Night of the Iguana there.