After falling in love on the set of Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton came to Puerto Vallarta in 1963 to allow Burton to begin filming the iconic movie, “Night of the Iguana“. The John Huston film was shot down the road from the town of Puerto Vallarta in the jungle near the small fishing village of Mismaloya.
After following Burton to the sleepy Mexican fishing village, Taylor arrived to find a dirt floor and cockroaches. Needless to say, Burton quickly explained to Huston, the conditions of their accommodations, and he immediately offered the couple his own villa on the hill in Gringo Gulch on the back side of Old Town. The name of the villa you ask? The now infamous Casa Kimberley, and the rest is history, and still stands today as a landmark for all to see.
The star struck couple’s love was fanned into an inferno while living in the charming and seductive village of Puerto Vallarta. Smitten by the romance, Casa Kimberley became a surprise birthday gift for Elizabeth’s 32nd birthday in 1964, just a few a month before their marriage in February of the same year.
The newlyweds spent a lot of time in Puerto Vallarta over the years, bringing along the kids and Hollywood friends.
Burton eventually purchased the house across the street as well, rebuilt it, and connected the two houses with a replica of The Bridge of Sighs in Venice. The passion filled romance of the two was the catalyst for it’s new moniker “The Lover’s Arch”, or as the story goes, was where Burton spent time when “banned” from the house, hence the “Bridge for Making Up”.
The famous couple’s exposure of Puerto Vallarta, vaulted the town onto the world scene and is considered to be the genesis of the thriving tourism industry the city enjoys today. Burton furthered the reputation as he became so enamored by the beauty and the lifestyle, that he decided to make it his permanent residence.
Taylor sold the Casa Kimberley in 1984 after Burton’s death stating the “memories made her too sad“. Hundreds of Burton’s books and letters, movie memorabilia, and clothing belonging to both parties were later found. In her book, “My Love Affair with Jewelry“, Taylor fondly reminisced that the dragon shaped Tiffany brooch that Burton gave her for the premier of Night of the Iguana, would “forever symbolized the early days of our marriage when we lived in Puerto Vallarta…
Today Casa Kimberley still stands physically, the pink bridge still connects the complex above the cobblestone road, but perhaps more importantly, is what it stands for emotionally as far as matters of the heart are concerned.
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