I like to think that I was introduced to Rachel Roberts by Richard Burton. This is partly because I first came across a mention of her in one of Richard Burton’s letters, and partly because I have a very active fantasy life.
The story I heard from Richard Burton in Furious Love was:
Rachel Roberts became stupendously drunk and uncontrollable. It would turn out to be an evening that even Tennessee Williams would have a hard time imagining. When she began abusing her husband Rex Harrison – “sexually, morally, physically, and in every other way,” Tennnesee, certainly no prude, asked to leave.
Suddenly, Rachel dropped to the floor of the bar and started barking like a dog, exciting the real dogs – Elizabeth’s pekingese and Rachel’s basset hound. Thoroughly drunk, Rachel began masturbating her dog, “a lovely, sloppy old dog called Omar,” . . . [stuff about how Richard felt about dogs] . . . Elizabeth and Richard tried talking sense to the intoxicated woman; she answered by turning on her husband and cursing his three former wives.”
So, obviously, this is a great person to know, yes?
Fortunately, all her journals are published, so it is almost as if we can all know her. Her journals are ours!