Open main menu

Sybil Christopher (27 March 1929 – 7 March 2013) was a Welsh actress, theatre director, and founder of popular celebrity New York nightclub "Arthur".[1] She first came into the public eye as the first wife of Richard Burton.[2]

Sybil Christopher
Sybil Burton Christopher.JPG
Sybil Williams

(1929-03-27)27 March 1929
Died9 March 2013(2013-03-09) (aged 83)
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
OccupationActress, theatre director, nightclub owner
Years active1946–2012
Richard Burton
(m. 1949; div. 1963)

Jordan Christopher
(m. 1966; his death 1996)
Children3, including Kate Burton



Sybil Williams was born on 27 March 1929, in Tylorstown, Mid Glamorgan. She attended the London Academy of Dramatic Arts (now LAMDA), meeting Richard Burton during the filming of The Last Days of Dolwyn (1949).[1] After their marriage, she retired from acting, performing only a few times, and generally on stage rather than on film.[1] The marriage ended famously in 1963, when Burton began a liaison with Elizabeth Taylor. She divorced Burton in 1963 on grounds of "abandonment and cruel and inhumane treatment",[3] receiving a $1million settlement and custody of their children.[4]

In 1965, Burton founded a nightclub in Manhattan at 154 East 54th Street, the site of El Morocco; numerous celebrities and well-known artists contributed, including Julie Andrews, Leonard Bernstein, Roddy McDowall, and Stephen Sondheim.[1] "Arthur", as the club was known, (the precursor to Studio 54) became a popular nightclub for celebrities during its short tenure (1965–69).[1] Frequent habitués included Truman Capote, Wilt Chamberlain, Roger Daltrey, Princess Margaret, Rudolph Nureyev, Lee Remick, Andy Warhol, Angela Lansbury and Tennessee Williams.[1][4] D.J. Terry Noel claimed to have invented "mixing" in the club, layering music from two separate turntables.[3]

Christopher then returned to theatre, founding the New Theatre on 54th Street in New York, and Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor in 1991.[1]


Christopher had two daughters with Richard Burton, Katherine "Kate" Burton (born 10 September 1957) and Jessica Burton (born 1959).[5] In 1966, she married Jordan Christopher, a singer and actor, and the couple raised his daughter and had another child, Amy Christopher (born May 1967).[1][3][6]


  1. ^ According to The New York Times, Sybil Christopher died on Thursday previous to the article's publication, meaning March 7. However, The Hollywood Reporter and The London Guardian reports she died on March 9.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Paul Vitello, "Sybil Christopher, Actress and Nightclub Founder, Dies at 83", New York Times, 12 March 2013.
  2. ^ "Sybil Christopher, First Wife of Richard Burton, Dies at 83". The Hollywood Reporter, 11 March 2013. Accessed 21 April 2013
  3. ^ a b c Michael Coveney, "Sybil Christopher Obituary", London Guardian, 11 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b Mike Barnes, "Sybil Christopher, First Wife of Richard Burton, Dies at 83", The Hollywood Reporter, 11 March 2013.
  5. ^ Burton, Richard (2012). Chris Williams. ed. The Richard Burton Diaries. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300192315. Page 70.
  6. ^ "Sybil Williams", IMDB (last visited 11 March 2013).

Further readingEdit

  • Nora Ephron (1966), The New York Post
  • Time magazine, 14 May 1965. Brewster, B., Broughton, F..Last Night a Disc Jockey Saved My Life, Grove Press, 2000, pp. 62 – 64. ISBN 0802136885

External linksEdit