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Oliver Reed Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (60) | Personal Quotes (35) | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 13 February 1938Wimbledon, London, England, UK
Date of Death 2 May 1999Valletta, Malta  (heart attack)
Birth NameRobert Oliver Reed
Nicknames Mr England
Ollie
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Oliver Reed was born on February 13, 1938 in Wimbledon, London, England as Robert Oliver Reed. He was an actor, known for Gladiator (2000), Oliver! (1968) and Tommy (1975). He was married to Josephine Burge and Kate Byrne. He died on May 2, 1999 in Valletta, Malta.

Spouse (2)

Josephine Burge (7 September 1985 - 2 May 1999) (his death)
Kate Byrne (2 January 1960 - 16 April 1969) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (4)

Outspoken views a trademark especially his opinions of his co-stars or women in general.
Marvellous speaking voice
Often sported a thick handle-bar moustache
Ocean blue eyes

Trivia (60)

Shared the same dentist as horror star Christopher Lee
Needed 36 stitches to repair cuts on his face after a bar fight in 1963. The incident left him with a permanent scar, which he initially feared would put an end to his screen career.
He had two brothers. David Reed became his business manager and his half-brother Simon Reed became his press agent.
Nephew of the film director Sir Carol Reed, who directed him in one of his best roles, as the villainous Bill Sikes in Oliver! (1968).
Father of Mark Thurloe Reed (born January 21, 1961) with his first wife Kate Byrne and of Sarah Reed (born 1970) from his 12-year relationship to dancer Jacqueline Daryl.
He died of a heart attack in a bar after downing three bottles of Captain Morgan's Jamaica rum, eight bottles of German beer, numerous doubles of Famous Grouse whiskey and Hennessy cognac, and beating five much younger Royal Navy sailors at arm-wrestling. His bar bill for that final lunch time totaled 270 Maltese lira, almost £450.
He was severely injured and almost died during the filming of The Three Musketeers (1973) when he was stabbed in the throat during the windmill duel scene.
Grandson of actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who founded the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1904.
His first job (at the age of 17) was as a bouncer at a Soho nightclub.
Was dyslexic.
Cousin of actress Tracy Reed and of the actor David Tree.
He was related by marriage to fellow actor Edward Fox, who was once married to his cousin, Tracy Reed, daughter of director Sir Carol Reed.
Narrowly missed out on playing superspy James Bond because of his love of alcohol and fighting. A new biography of the star uncovered a letter from Bond mastermind Albert R. Broccoli outlining how close he came to replacing Sean Connery in the role. Broccoli wrote, "With Reed we would have had a far greater problem to destroy his image and re-mold him as James Bond. We just didn't have the time or money to do that." According to Cliff Goodwin, author of the book "Evil Spirits", "Oliver was probably within a sliver of being cast as Bond." He adds, "But by 1968 his affairs were public and he was already drinking and fighting - as far away from the refined Bond image as you could get.".
By the mid-1970s he was considered by many to be Britain's biggest movie star. He declined roles in The Sting (1973) and Jaws (1975) because he didn't want to relocate to Los Angeles. Both of these roles were taken by fellow British hellraiser Robert Shaw. However, a Hollywood executive claimed, "Reed didn't turn us down. We turned him down. We like our stars to have respect - Oliver Reed didn't respect anyone and he showed it."
The actor he admired most was Errol Flynn.
He was a close friend of The Who's drummer Keith Moon.
In 1973 Steve McQueen flew to England to meet Reed and discuss a possible film collaboration. "Reed showed me his country mansion and we got on well," recalled McQueen. "He then suggested he take me to his favorite London nightclub." The drinking, which started at Reed's home, Broome Hall, continued into the night until Reed could hardly stand. Suddenly, and with no apparent warning, he vomited over McQueen's shirt and trousers. "The staff rushed around and found me some new clothes, but they couldn't get me any shoes," said McQueen. "I had to spend the rest of the night smelling of Oliver Reed's sick."
Along with Michael Winner, former snooker champion Alex Higgins, himself suffering from throat cancer, were the only celebrities to attend Reed's funeral in Ireland.
His wrestling scene with Alan Bates in Women in Love (1969) was the first time full frontal male nudity had featured in a mainstream movie.
Reed died during the filming of Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000), and it cost the company $3 million to recreate his face so he could "appear" in the scenes he still had left to shoot.
Agreed to appear in the small but vital role of casino boss Eddie Mars in The Big Sleep (1978) just because he admired the film's star Robert Mitchum so much.
Described his role as Father Grandier in Ken Russell's The Devils (1971) as the best performance he ever gave.
Befriended Charlton Heston while filming The Three Musketeers (1973).
He named his favorite American actors as Lee Marvin, Rock Hudson and Rod Steiger.
In 1968 he was signed to star as William the Conqueror in a British film about the Norman Conquest, but the project fell through.
He never had any acting training or stage experience.
For a brief period in the late 1960s Reed was the highest paid actor in Europe, but by the 1980s he was reduced to starring in dire European films.
At the time of his death he was signed to play Albert Finney's role in My Uncle Silas (2001).
During the Falklands War in 1982, the highly patriotic Reed covered his house in a huge Union Jack flag and decorated every room with military memorabilia.
According to director Ken Russell, the original script for Women in Love (1969) did not include the famous nude wrestling scene because he felt it wouldn't pass the censors and would be difficult to shoot. It wasn't until Reed talked him into it by literally throwing his weight around--he wrestled Russell in his kitchen, pinned him down, and wouldn't let him up unless he agreed to shoot it.
At age 22, Reed was paid £90 per week for his first starring role in The Curse of the Werewolf (1961). But the film would not be seen in Spain for many years. It was banned because it was thought the film portrayed Spain as a backward nation.
He never forgot his Hammer roots. After hitting the big time, he went back to pay homage to his horror beginnings to narrate the full Hammer retrospective, a reminder that his voice was the one quality the English critics admired about him.
Reed remains the only British film star who never had any stage work of any kind. A 1980s National Portrait Gallery show noted this, saying he was their only pure film actor.
He starred in the first film to say "fuck", I'll Never Forget What's'isname (1967). He also starred in the first British film to be rated X just for the violent content, Sitting Target (1972).
The public house in Malta in which he died, previously known as "The Pub", was renamed "Ollie's Last Pub" in his memory.
Some obituaries mentioned the similarity between Reed's death and Robert Newton's. Newton, who had played Bill Sykes in David Lean's non-musical version of Oliver Twist (1948), was a notoriously heavy drinker. He remained sober while filming Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), which was supposed to be a big comeback for him as an actor. Toward the end of filming, however, he indulged in one final drinking marathon and died from a heart attack, aged only 50. Similarly, Reed remained sober while filming Gladiator (2000) - intended as a big comeback - but died from a heart attack after allowing himself one final binge.
Owned a villa in the south of France next door to Jack Hawkins' villa.
On location for The Hunting Party (1971), Reed bemoaned the necessity of faking an American accent and this, coupled with his love of Broome Hall and English pubs, was enough to cement his decision not to move to Hollywood.
Bought Broome Hall, a 63-bedroom Victorian mansion in Surrey, in 1970.
He was a fan of James Dean in East of Eden (1955) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
Lost weight to appear in Castaway (1986) on a diet of vodka.
Had a tattoo on his penis. According to Patrick Warburton, Reed showed him the tattoo the first day they worked together.
He was nearly killed in a friendly sword-fight with director Ken Russell. He described the incident in the December 1973 issue of Photoplay Film Monthly: "Ken Russell came down here last Sunday and we had a fight. I have two large, double-handed swords and he nearly killed me. He tore my shirt right down to here, and I was only fighting with a small sword, from The Three Musketeers (1973), and I said, "I'm going to kill you!" So, he said, "I'm going to kill you!!" All his viewfinders and his pince nez, and his silver hearts with "I am allergic to aspirin" on them, his Mickey Mouse shoes, his pontification about people's varicose veins, that was all blown to the wind. He left here at four. He said, "you didn't really mean that about killing me, did you?" But we were very serious at the time. But whatever it is that allows for that lunacy or sense of the ridiculous comes across in the work that we do. He's extraordinarily talented.".
Once reckoned that the strenuous filming of The Devils (1971) took four years off his natural life.
Had an intense dislike for Jack Nicholson, whom he called "a balding midget". (Reed claimed Nicholson was only 5'7" tall).
Infamously clashed with Shelley Winters on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Episode dated 6 July 1972 (1972). He got angry at her for constantly jokingly interrupting the stories he was trying to tell and, when Winters had to leave the show early, Reed told Johnny Carson that he thought that women belong in the kitchen. She returned and poured a cup of water over his head. He then claimed it was whiskey that she poured over him.
Said that when he made the infamous drunken appearance on the Michael Aspel chat show when he sang a raucous rendition of "Wild Thing", that the producers of that show had plied him with spirits in the green room prior to the interview so that he was already plastered when he came on stage.
In 1979 he published an autobiography, entitled "Reed All About Me". Asked to describe the book by an interviewer he replied, "It's a load of bollocks really.".
He once described his purpose in life as "shafting the girlies and downing the sherbie.".
Was heavily criticized in the late 1980s for appearing in exploitation films produced by the infamous impresario Harry Alan Towers, most of which were filmed in South Africa under the apartheid regime, and released straight to video in the US and UK.
In order to avoid charges of nepotism Reed deliberately avoided working for his uncle, director Sir Carol Reed, until he was already established as a star in British movies.
He stated in 1974 his favorite book was "The House on Pooh Corner" by A.A. Milne.
He enjoyed playing golf and (lawn) bowls.
He loved horses all his life and also enjoyed breeding and rearing them.
He suffered from acute tinnitus for many years.
He won army sprint races while serving his national service.
Buried in Bruhenny Cemetery in Buttevant, Cork (Ireland). His grave-site was picked so that it was in full view of his favorite pub.
His paternal great-grandfather, Julius Ewald Edward Beerbohm, was of German, Lithuanian, and Dutch ancestry.
He appeared in four Robert Louis Stevenson adaptations: The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980), Black Arrow (1985) and Treasure Island (1990).

Personal Quotes (35)

You meet a better class of people in pubs.
I do not live in the world of sobriety.
My only regret is that I didn't drink every pub dry and sleep with every woman on the planet.
I believe that my woman shouldn't work outside the home. When I come home and I'm tired from filming all day, I expect her to be there and make sure that everything is cool for me. You know, like drawing my bath and helping me into bed. That's the kind of job she had and, in return for it, she can bear my children and if any man talks bad to her, I'll hit him.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) was about the only time I've been allowed to do what I want with a part. You can be over-directed by people, but Terry [Terry Gilliam] let me have my own way. There was a scene we rehearsed on Saturday where we really hit our stride. When we resumed, Terry said on the Sunday, "You seemed to be having much more fun with the character yesterday. Could you take it a bit further? I didn't need to be told twice! Once I realized I could get away with it, off I went!
There is, of course, a world of difference between cricket and the movie business . . . I suppose doing a love scene with Raquel Welch roughly corresponds to scoring a century before lunch.
American men like their women to have these special teeth and be perfectly coiffured and have amazing breasts. Have you seen an Italian mama with those kinds of teeth, that kind of hair, and that kind of waist? They're not like that. They're in the kitchen cooking for their families - doing what they should do. I believe my woman shouldn't work outside the home.
I also use women as a sex object; maybe I'm kinky. However, I like to talk to them as well.
I like the effect drink has on me. What's the point of staying sober?
I'm the biggest star this country has got, destroy me and you destroy the whole British film industry.
Richard Burton was hitting the bottle with Jimmy Hurt the night before his death. He knew it was going to kill him, but he did not stop. I don't have a drink problem. But if that was the case and doctors told me I would have to stop, I'd like to think I would be brave enough to drink myself into the grave.
Life shouldn't be about sitting around staring at frosted glass. Life should be lived and that's all there is to it.
Nicholson [Jack Nicholson]? As far as I'm concerned, he's a balding midget. He stands five-foot-seven, you know. He tries to play heavies and doesn't quite make it.
I'm not a villain. I've never hurt anyone. I'm just a tawdry character who explodes now and again.
I like to give my inhibitions a bath now and then.
I do think a carpenter needs a good hammer to bang on the wall.
I have made many serious statements -- I just can't remember any of them. I guess they mustn't have been very important.
I have two ambitions in life: one is to drink every pub dry, the other is to sleep with every woman on earth.
Once a pirate, always a pirate. I'm a buccaneer - a bucco - through and through. I'm the same old Ollie I was years ago. Ollie Reed doesn't change.
My acting school was, and still is, life in the raw - the whole wide world as a stage. I didn't go into a shop full of mirrors, I stayed outside and gazed at the reflections of life. I've got a lot of performances stored away at the back of my mind, ready to come out in front of the cameras when they are needed.
I was disappointed in Sonja Henie. Her legs were muscle-bound and unattractive and didn't give me the urge to give her one.
At one point I would have liked the role of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1970). Then I saw it done by Laurence Olivier on television and he was so good that I decided to forget about it.
[on The Devils (1971)] It vividly shows a side of the church that was never scrutinized attentively or even less accepted. The film shows that the monarchy can be weak, that the church can be corrupt, that society can admit that it has a lot to learn. I think these kinds of things were hidden from audiences for a long time. The masses go to the movies, not the intellectual elites.
I didn't go to acting school, only to normal school. I'm not for acting schools because I suspect that the majority of the teachers are there because they can't find work as actors or because they think they can teach people to act but haven't had much experience themselves in the field. What I mean is that my skepticism derives from the fact that I believe that for an actor it's much more important to learn with the audience . . . the audience is the real teacher and it's the audience that has taught me what I know. The audience's reaction tells me what I need to do, just as the audience's reaction makes you into a first-rate star. It's easy: the important thing is that a sufficient number of people, an audience, in a sufficient number of countries is willing to spend money to go see this actor. At this point the movie producers interfere and ask you to work on this or that film. And then one becomes an actor with international success depending on the public's reaction.
Theatre doesn't interest me. It doesn't interest me because in England theatre means warm gin during intermission, not being able to smoke in the theatre, eat chocolates and try to find out who else is present in order to then greet them in the foyer. Going to this or that theatre premiere is very much an "in" thing to do. But this is only one of the reasons; the second reason is a bit more professional. Logically speaking, I think that for an actor or an actress working in the theatre is boring, but I am not referring to theatre actors who have always worked there, and this my own boring opinion, but because it means reciting the same lines every night six nights a week, not counting matinées . . . boring, don't you think?
I think that the most important achievement of my career was getting paid for something that I really wanted to do.
[on his role as Father Grandier in The Devils (1971)] You would think from the critics' hostility that Ken Russell had tried to pull off some obscene hoax. On the contrary, the film is, I think, an utterly serious attempt to understand the nature of religious and political persecution. It is not in any way exaggerated. If anything, the horrors perpetrated in Loudun in the 17th century were worse than Russell has chosen to show . . . the character of the priest was a marvelous one to act. Ken Russell's brother-in-law is an historian and he helped me research Grandier's life, with particular reference to his thesis in celibacy. The people of Loudun loved him. He walked among the plague victims and comforted them. I started to play him as a priest and realized that he was a politician.
I bluster my way through, and I sing rather like a rugby forward. Tommy (1975) is an amazing visual film and the music is astonishing. I think for anyone to translate The Who's music in terms of images, it must be somebody like [Ken Russell]--or a lunatic!
[on his role as Father Grandier in The Devils (1971)] It was certainly the most difficult and the most strenuous part I have ever played. And I think, quite important.
[on public reaction to The Devils (1971)] I remember noticing the gleam in [Ken Russell's] eye while everybody was working away on the set, so I knew something good was going on. What they said afterward was totally incredible. We were regarded as pornographers in Italy. We'd have been arrested if we went there.
[on directors Michael Winner and Ken Russell] Winner gave me my bread and Russell gave me my art.
[on making The Devils (1971)] It was a difficult and tiring role. I don't think anyone in their right mind would say that they had fun shooting that film. It wasn't created with the intent of having fun or being pleasurable; on the contrary, it was analyzed acutely and made with extreme seriousness. It was definitely a film about a certain society and the things that society did. We tried to show that humans are diabolical or can be as diabolical as in the film. I didn't have fun, it was four months of hard work and if anyone has the courage or the desire to sit his ass down on a firecracker and scream for four months with Ken Russell yelling in your ears, well . . .
[on criticism of The Devils (1971)] It was very disturbing to make. I still haven't got over it... Where do you draw the line? This is the way it happened - those nuns were used for political ends, toted round France as a side show for a year. Do you ignore the actual historical accuracy and the fact that the Church, the politicians and the aristocracy were corrupt? I get so angry with the opinion makers who class it with the sex films. If we ignore history because it was unpleasant we're going to end up with nothing but nature films.
One day I should like to live in Ireland. I love the Irish, the more I see of other races the more I believe the Irish are the only real people left, and apart from that they have space and clear air in which to wander and think and to feel free.
[on claims he only got into movies because of his uncle] I am not a product of nepotism.

Salary (2)

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) £90 a week
Gladiator (2000) $1,000,000

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