“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ” ― Michael Crichton
As one of those who knew nothing about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton the first years I visited Puerto Vallarta, I can sympathize with those that don’t know about this part of the history of this town (now a city).
When you start digging a bit deeper in the booming years of PV, you’ll inevitably stumble over Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and John Huston. That is why, if you check out this site in more detail, you’ll find some very complete and detailed accounts of how these Hollywood personalities, the Welsh Richard Huston, the English-Northamerican Elizabeth Taylor, and the Irish-Northamerican John Huston, influenced the development of Vallarta.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Puerto Vallarta
A little digging will also make it clear that they were not the only reason Puerto Vallarta took off as a tourist destination, but on the strong foundations the Governor Francisco Medina Ascencio developed in the 1960s, the International Airport, highways and more, the enormous glitz and free promotion these celebrities, their ongoing romance as a couple and with the city, really gave the city an exceptional boost.
John Huston had chosen Mismaloya as the main set for his Tennessee Williams adaptation of “The Night Of the Iguana“, he chose Richard Burton as a leading star and in 1963 they started shooting in Puerto Vallarta. The movie and town grabbed the attention of the worldwide media mainly because Richard Burton’s mistress, Elizabeth Taylor, came along to keep an eye on him. They were both still married at the time (not with each other!) and this was too big a scandal to ignore. Richard called it “Le Scandale”, even the Vatican, at the time, had something to say about their affair calling it “erotic vagrancy”.
Anyway, they got married and lived as tax exiles around the world, as did John Huston, living many places in Europe, but were very much attached to Puerto Vallarta, buying houses here, Elizabeth Taylor visiting the town up until 1999.
Zaragoza 445 Gringo Gulch, The Iguana
Richard Burton bought Liz many gifts and Casa Kimberley was his present to her on her 32nd birthday, on February 27, 1964. They eventually also bought the house on the other side of the street and built the now-famous bridge over the street, some say it’s a replica of the Italian Bridge of Sighs and renaming it as the “Bridge of Reconciliation” for their many loud and unavoidably public fights.
There is so much to talk about when it comes to Elizabeth & Richard (Liz & Dick, as some called them – Richard Burton couldn’t stand being called that way), but let it be said they were a big part of the glitzy attraction of Puerto Vallarta had in its early days, despite being a rustic little town.
It is therefore important to remember them, to revel in their lives and love, something this new Casa Kimberly is trying to take advantage of, the glamour and romance that marked the most important and famous couple of the 20th Century.
Jim Demetro, Chistina Demetro & Eva Demetro with the statue
This new and, in my opinion, best Elizabeth and Richard statue in town, was unveiled for the opening of The Iguana Restaurant at Casa Kimberly (the original name was Casa Kimberly). The life-size bronze statue titled “Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton” was unveiled on Nov 28, 2015, with a mariachi band playing on the bridge and drinks served to the guests followed by speeches and a fabulous dinner.
This sculpture was commissioned by Janice Chatterton, owner of boutique hotels and restaurants Hacienda San Angel, Casa Kimberly, and La Capella. She wanted them in a sitting position as there was a large concrete slab that was part of the foundation. The slab by the main entrance could not be removed for the remodelling. Jim made the small statue first. Since it is hard to make a likeness on a head the size of a walnut, the small statue is called “Los Amantes – The Lovers”, instead of Elizabeth and Richard, the most internationally recognized lovers of their era. Several small limited-edition bronze statues have been sold. It is for sale at Casa Kimberly and Demetro Galeria.
Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton by Jim & Christina Demetro
The large statue was modelled using existing photos and measurements of Elizabeth and Richard and using live models for the pose. Using the Lost Wax process, silicon rubber moulds, wax model, ceramic moulds and bronze pouring were fabricated by Gulooch Foundry in El Pitillal, the same who also made “The Washerwoman“, “Andale Bernardo” and “The Fishermen” statues for Jim and Christina.
“Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton” is located right by the entrance, on the way into The Iguana Restaurant & Tequila Bar on Calle Zaragoza 445 in the Gringo Gulch, downtown PV.
About the artists
Jim Demetro is from Battle Ground in Washington state. Since 1992, he has worked sculpting professionally and has produced nearly 50 works of public art.
During his 13 years living in Puerto Vallarta, he has donated a number of public sculptures to his favorite city including these iconic Vallarta Dancers on the Malecon, one in front of Molino de Agua condos, The washerwoman, The Fishermen on Los Muertos Beach, Ándale Bernardo (the donkey statue) at Lázaro Cárdenas Square and other statues around town.
Jim Demetro has established an art gallery in the city, Demetro Galeria, on Lázaro Cárdenas street right by the park. Although he began his professional life as an Engineer, in 1992 he decided to follow his passion, which was art.
Jim Demetro at the Demetro Gallery
Together with his daughter Christina, they have created sculptures for several decades, with dozens of public installations of life-size sculptures. There are examples of his work in many public collections in different parts of the world, we already know those in Puerto Vallarta, but there are examples at the Sibelius Museum in Finland, at the University of St. Louis, at Fort Clatsop National Park and the Botanical Gardens of Na’Aina Kai in Hawaii. Among private collectors, we can include the singer Connie Stevens, the former president of the Nike brand, Phil Knight and, stars like Tom Cruise and Donald Sutherland.
Artist Gallery Website: http://demetro.net/
Where is the sculpture?
Sculptures all over Puerto Vallarta