Which is . . . well, The Rachel Roberts Journals are so bizarre that they are almost certainly the best diary you will ever read. Masturbating a dog isn’t even the weirdest situation. With most people, say conservatively 90% of the world’s population, the dog thing would be the strangest. But not for Rachel Roberts, because she is free like a majestic lunatic butterfly.
Rachel met Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor for the first time when they were on the set of Cleopatra. It is funny that Elizabeth and Richard so thoroughly dominate that movie that you forget there were other people in it, although, of course, there were and one was Rex Harrison who played Julius Caesar. Look! Here is an exceedingly long preview, in which Rex Harrison is in many scenes!
It’s fine if you forgot. Honestly, I sometimes forget that Rex Harrison was in anything but My Fair Lady. The actress Rachel Roberts had recently become his 4th wife. (Rex was known as “Sexy Rexy” as a result of his many love affairs, marriages and divorces.) In an interview following the wedding, Rachel told a journalist, “Now, before I married Rex, if God had said to me, ‘Rachel, what would you like to be, apart from a great actress?’ I would have said a dazzling courtesan. Not a whore, not a hooker, you understand, but a lovely lady whom men adored. But after meeting Rex, all I wanted to be was the best, the most brilliant wife in the world.”
She said that in 1962. Sadly it was emphatically not destined to work out quite the way she imagined. Or, at least, not by the standards of what it meant to be a great wife in 1962; which, if you judge by Mad Men standards, mostly seemed to mean preparing some sort of roast with pineapple pieces stuck on by toothpicks.
Part of the problem was that Rachel, a lovely actress, was surprisingly insecure. She admitted that, shortly after arriving to visit her new husband on the set of Cleopatra, “Elizabeth Taylor gave a big party. I couldn’t go. I was too ashamed of my looks to attend.”
It’s not surprising that – perhaps intimidated by Elizabeth Taylor’s status as one of the most beautiful women in the world - she became friends with Richard Burton’s first wife, Sibyl. She claimed that Rachel always referred to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor as “that man and his woman,” which maybe accounts for why Richard Burton doesn’t tell overly favorable stories about her.
But it is certainly true that she was really weird about dogs.