The story around these parts goes that having fallen for then-married Burton on the set of Cleopatra, Taylor (who was also married) was incensed at the idea of her new beau travelling to an isolated Mexican fishing village for months to make a movie (The Night of the Iguana) with three beautiful actresses: Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Sue Lyon.
The Hollywood press were already desperate to get anything they could on the Taylor-Burton affair so in September 1962, Burton flew down to Puerto Vallarta joined by Taylor. Locals from the town say she followed to keep an eye on him.
The affair of the two married stars was hardly a secret though. Photographers also flew down to PV, hiding in the bushes, tracking Burton and Taylor’s every move so they could report back to their sources in Hollywood. Publicity for the film was rife before it even finished shooting.
By the time the film was released in 1964, US tourists were all flocking to the paradise village, hoping to live out their own version of the Taylor-Burton romance in the sun, sea and sand.
Tourism boomed for Puerto Vallarta and hasn’t stopped since.
When Rachel and I visited it, we happened upon a local who told us that someone had bought the house some years ago with plans of renovating it and turning it into a hotel. They began work by stripping everything up and working on putting in new circuits but then just left it.
Now the garden’s overgrown with foliage and the house is nothing more than a weather-beaten home to birds and rats.
The main window even features a beautiful mosaic above it, depicting how the two houses looked during the ’60s when the Taylor-Burton affair was underway.
Perhaps my favourite part, though?
The beautiful bridge connecting the two houses:
Liz and Dick might have chosen separate houses to stay in but they sure as hell weren’t subtle about what was going on at night.
Standing where two of the greatest actors of all time once lived was almost overwhelming, and the fact that a part of Hollywood history was still standing (no matter how run-down) was truly magical.
I only hope that one day someone continues the work on Taylor’s house. It’s too much of a shame to see what could potentially be such a beautiful building go to waste.