Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton Lived Like ‘Members of the Royal Family,’ Author Says (Exclusive)

In his new book, ‘Erotic Vagrancy,’ Roger Lewis looks back on the couple’s famous marriage, including their luxurious lifestyle

<p>Bob Penn/Sygma/Sygma via Getty</p> Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor

Bob Penn/Sygma/Sygma via Getty

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were known for many things, and their opulent lifestyle was definitely one of them.

The Hollywood icons are getting a new retrospective in Erotic Vagrancy: Everything about Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, a new book by Roger Lewis forthcoming on March 26 from Mobius. The biography traces the couple’s lives from their origins as actors to their much-talked-about marriage, and also gives a new look into their luxurious lifestyle.

One standout aspect of their marriage, Lewis says, was the sheer number of people that the couple had around them, including an array of secretaries, butlers, nannies and tutors for their children, lawyers, accountants and veterinarians for their many exotic pets.

<p>API/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty</p> Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the set of 1966's 'The Sandpiper'

API/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the set of 1966's 'The Sandpiper'

“They'd take over whole floors of grand hotels so all these people had accommodation,” Lewis says. “But what all this meant was that they never met ordinary people after that. They never mixed with anyone else. It was this very insulated life, rather like, I imagine, members of the royal family.”

Related: Looking Back on Some of Elizabeth Taylor's Fabulous Fashions & Jewels

Taylor and Burton, who met at a party in the 1950s, were first married from 1964 to 1974, and later married again, from 1975 to 1976. The couple appeared in numerous films together, including 1963’s The V.I.Ps and Cleopatra and 1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Though both Taylor and Burton were already successful actors before they met — Taylor as a child actress and Burton on the stage — the two took things to another level once the money started rolling in, Lewis says.

They indulged Taylor’s love for her many animals, for example — including dogs, cats and monkeys — which often had free reign during the couple’s outings.

<p>Bob Penn/Sygma/Sygma via Getty </p> Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

Bob Penn/Sygma/Sygma via Getty

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

“It didn't really matter to her that there would be someone having to clear up all this mess, because she had the wherewithal to do that,” Lewis says. “On this yacht of theirs that had very expensive carpets, they just used to be replaced every month or so because all the pets were not housebroken. And she never worried about all of that.”

Related: Elizabeth Taylor's Stardom Explored in New ABC Special: 'She Is the First Influencer' (Exclusive)

Lewis also says that the Hollywood lifestyle itself may have put pressure on the couple.

“[Their lifestyle was] very, very expensive to keep going, so they kept having to churn out these crazy films to pay the bills," he explains. "You get trapped in that world of money and you have to earn more money. You can't let that go."

<p>Mobius</p> 'Erotic Vagrancy' by Roger Lewis


'Erotic Vagrancy' by Roger Lewis

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Far from condemning the couple's occasional bad behavior, Erotic Vagrancy remains an ode to the two Hollywood legends — something that Lewis never lost sight of while writing.

“I was never, at any stage, appalled by their bad behavior and their vulgarity,” he says. “I sort of rather admired it, to be so brash.”

Erotic Vagrancy
hits shelves on March 26 and is now available for pre-order.

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