Elizabeth Aitken, former wife of Richard Harris, Rex Harrison, dies – Deadline

Elizabeth Harris Aitken, who was married four times, including two movie superstars and a pair of cousins, died aged 85 on Friday April 15.

The socialite, author and family matriarch was most recently the wife of Jonathan Aitken, a disgraced former politician who served in the cabinet of the Conservative government of John Major, who became a devoted Christian and prison chaplain.

When Elizabeth Aitken wrote her memoir at the age of 40, she titled it Love, honor and consternationand dedicated them to “RH” – who could have been either her first husband, Richard Harris, or her second, Rex Harrison.

Born Elizabeth Rees-Williams in 1936 in Wales, Aitken was the child of a Labor MP. She herself attended the Royal Academy for Dramatic Art in London, where she was in the company of future stars Peter O’Toole, Alan Bates and Albert Finney, but she became best known as the actor’s partner Irish Richard Harris. The couple married in 1957. They were together for 11 years and had three sons, one of whom Chernobyl and Mad Men star Jared Harris, but life was complicated by legendary revelers and Richard’s constant absences.

Aitken went on to marry the much more stable but equally miserable Rex Harrison. Despite their glamorous life on the French Riviera, Harrison – who had four previous wives – made no attempt to become a loving family man. Jared Harris later described family table meals as excruciating.

In the 1980s, Aitken briefly married Peter Aitken, Jonathan’s cousin, with whom she had previously had an affair. Her third marriage was, she says, disastrous, but her reunion with Jonathan turned out to be much happier.

They reunited in 2001 when she attended a play starring her son Jamie Harris, alongside Jack Davenport, nephew of Jonathan Aitken. Around this time, Jonathan had recently been released from prison after perjuring himself in an infamous libel trial and had become a devout Christian who would later become a prison chaplain.

So, after their marriage in 2003, Elizabeth Harris, a legendary former socialite and party girl, became a chaplain’s wife. She was also a committed homemaker to her extended family, including her three sons Damian, a director, BAFTA winner Jared, and actor Jamie.

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