Richard Burton’s ex-wife, Sybil Christopher, died on Thursday at the age of 83. Christopher, Burton’s first wife, was a nightclub owner and theater producer.
Despite her incredibly successful career, Christopher was perhaps best known for being the woman Richard Burton left for Elizabeth Taylor.
Burton divorced Sybil in 1963 after his extremely publicized affair with Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor was married to singer Eddie Fisher at the time. Following the scandal with her husband and his fellow Cleopatra star, Sybil Christopher took her children to New York City.
Once there, Richard Burton’s ex opened a very successful nightclub in Manhattan in 1965. The club received backing from Christopher’s famous friends, like Julie Andrews and Leonard Bernstein.
The club became a hotspot for regulars like Tennessee Williams, Andy Warhol, and Truman Capote. The club, called Arthur, was named after George Harrison’s hairstyle as it was described in The Beatles’ song “A Hard Day’s Night.”
Born Sybil Williams, the successful businesswoman became Sybil Burton, before she traded her surname again when she married Jordan Christopher in 1966. Jordan was the lead singer of her club’s house band. Arthur closed in 1969, leaving Richard Burton’s ex to focus on the dramatic arts.
She co-founded Long Island’s Bay Street Theatre in 1991 and served as its artistic director for 22 years. But before the Bay Street Theatre, Burton’s ex helped found the New Theater on 54th Street. Sybil Christopher moved back to Los Angeles in the 1980s and worked at ICM as a literary agent for eight years.
But she moved back to New York City and teamed up with Emma Walton and Stephen Hamilton to create the Bay Street Theatre. The theatre’s building was transformed from an old warehouse along the Sag Harbor Bay. She stepped down from her position as artistic director in March of last year and left Sag Harbor for Manhattan in September.
Richard Burton’s ex-wife’s cause of death is not known. Sybil Christopher is survived by three daughters and one step-daughter.