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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 18:09 GMT
Wales 'slow' in honouring Burton
Pontrhydyfen
The new sign was unveiled at the entrance to Pontrhydyfen
Richard Burton's family say only now is the late screen legend receiving the recognition in Wales he deserves.

At the unveiling of a new sign at Pontrhydyfen, near Neath, where Burton was born, his nieces said little has been done in the past to remember him.

The sign also marks the village as the birthplace of opera stars Ivor Emmanuel and Rebecca Evans.

Ceremony organisers have apologised to Ms Evans' parents after they said she was "appalled" at not being invited.

The 20th anniversary of Burton's death earlier this year went largely unmarked.

But an exhibition dedicated to his work at St David's Hall in Cardiff did prove a big hit with fans, including a new generation too young to have seen him on stage or screen.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor
Burton was twice married to Elizabeth Taylor

His niece Megan Owen said at Monday's ceremony interest in his work, which included films such as Cleopatra, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and Night of the Iguana, remained strong.

"It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who show interest in his work. I suppose his voice lives on and his films live on," she said.

She said she was very pleased with the new sign, which replaced one that had stood in the village for over 20 years.

"There has not been a lot really to commemorate him really but now it all seems to be happening," she said.

Her sister, the actress Sian Owen who lives in Pontrhydyfen, said: "It amazes me the number of people who come and knock on the door because I have a large collection of pictures of Richard.

Sian Owen
Sian Owen said fans come to the village to see where he was born

"People do come here just because it is the place where he was born."

But she said she felt more could have been done to capitalise on Burton's fame in the past.

A new exhibition dedicated to Burton, who twice married Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor, will be staged by Neath Port Talbot Council in February.

Ms Owen said they had also been approached by the Welsh College of Music and Drama with a view to naming a theatre after him.

"The Welsh seem to be very slow in celebrating their own. It is nice and I'm very pleased Rebecca is up there and she has been recognised while alive," she added.

Stan Pope
Villager Stan Pope said all three people deserved to be recognised

Mayor of Neath Port Talbot Glyn Rawlings said he hoped the sign would encourage more Burton fans to visit the area.

Opera star Ivor Emmanuel is probably best known by modern audiences as the soldier who led the rendition of Men of Harlech in the film Zulu, while Rebecca Evans is regarded as one of the top five sopranos in the world.

Stan Pope, who grew up yards from Emmanuel's family home, said: "I think it is very good. Of course it replaces the one already there but I think all three of them deserve it."

Communities First, which organised Monday's event, said not inviting Ms Evans was an oversight and they were sorry if it caused offence.


SEE ALSO:
Burton tribute may tour UK
04 Aug 04 |  South West Wales
Should a Welshman play Burton?
20 May 04 |  South West Wales
Burton diary returned to BBC
03 Dec 01 |  Wales


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