There are few real-life love stories that have captured the world’s attention the way the passionate, often tumultuous relationship between screen legends Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton did. Long before the advent of daily entertainment news, internet gossip sites and social media from which we know what the rich and famous are up to 24/7, the celebrity lovebirds were so sought-after that they were hounded by the paparazzi during their time together in the 1960s! Their juicy love story seemed to inspire a newfound obsession with the private lives of the famous.
The two movie stars met on the set of Cleopatra, which ignited an intense flame between them, even though their relationship began amidst scandal. They were each married to someone else at the time (she to Eddie Fisher, he to Sybil Williams) but seemingly just couldn’t stay away from each other. So when Richard arrived in the sleepy fishing village of Puerto Vallarta to film director John Huston’s classic The Night of the Iguana, he naturally decided Elizabeth should join him in the tropical paradise. The movie was shot south of town near the famous Los Arcos rock formations that protrude out of the sea near the shore, and Richard made the commute by boat every morning to report to set.
While filming, Richard was staying in a casita in the downtown area now known as Gringo Gulch, up on the hill overlooking the magnificent scenery of the Bay of Banderas. He decided that the appropriate thing to do would be to rent the home directly across the street for Elizabeth to stay in, which was known as Casa Kimberley. He then had a bridge built between the two homes, called Lover’s Arch, so that they could conveniently spend time together while still enjoying their own space, especially after their infamously spirited fights.
The two were not only wildly in love with each other, they developed a deep affection for Puerto Vallarta and truly inspired the area to become what it is today. Richard ended up purchasing Casa Kimberley and presented it to Elizabeth for her birthday, and they continued to spend plenty of their time in Puerto Vallarta long after filming wrapped on The Night of the Iguana.
Although Elizabeth and Richard did eventually marry each other, twice, their fiery relationship ultimately ended in divorce. However, their great fondness of Puerto Vallarta never died. The now-booming tourist destination has the mercurial romance between the star-crossed lovers to thank for its exposure to the masses, as well as the tropical set location chosen for The Night of the Iguana by John Huston.