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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 18:22 GMT
Liz Taylor backs Burton theatre
Richard Burton, pictured with Elizabeth Taylor, when he was awarded his OBE in 1970

Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor is to help raise funds for a new theatre in Cardiff in honour of her former husband Richard Burton.

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama confirmed Taylor had agreed to help raise funds in the United States for the multimillion-pound theatre.

The late Welsh actor's brother Graham Jenkins said that he had first written to the actress, asking for her support.

Meanwhile, there are also hopes for a Burton youth theatre in Port Talbot.

A spokeswoman for the college said: "Dame Elizabeth Taylor has agreed to become patron of the fundraising campaign in America, and has shown great enthusiasm for the current plans."

They include a garden named in her honour in the grounds next door to the theatre.

Burton's widow Sally and actor Robert Hardy, one of Burton's oldest friends, are also supporters of the theatre plans.

The college said it had received "considerable support" from the actor's family and friends and was "determined to ensure that Richard Burton has a living tribute in his homeland".

The spokeswoman added: "Talented young people from Wales and beyond would be able to come and receive first class training in world class facilities."

Theatre - a night-time artist's impression
Artist's impression of the theatre at the college in Bute Park

Mr Jenkins, who was at the opening of an exhibition of photographs and archive of his brother in Port Talbot on Tuesday, told BBC Wales: "They asked me to contact Dame Elizabeth Taylor, as she was my sister-in-law - twice - and representatives from the college went over and she agreed to raise funds in America, with some of her own money."

He said her involvement came as a "great shock" due to her strong commitments to her own Aids charity.

'Early stage'

Meanwhile, there are hopes in Port Talbot for a future Richard Burton Trail and a youth theatre in the honour of the Pontrhydyfen-born actor, who died in 1984.

Neath Port Talbot Council said the project was at an early stage, while Aberavon MP Dr Hywel Francis said the actor's widow Sally Burton was keen to become involved.

He said: "There's a very special place for Richard Burton in the history and future of Port Talbot. He's a working class hero for many of us as the first Welsh film star in Hollywood and Wales' greatest actor.

"He's been an inspiration, not only to Sir Anthony Hopkins, but to generations down to the likes of John-Paul Macleod, who was in Calendar Girls."

Wales 'slow' in honouring Burton
13 Dec 04 |  South West Wales
Burton tribute may tour UK
04 Aug 04 |  South West Wales
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30 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Elizabeth Taylor: A life in pictures
16 May 00 |  Entertainment


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