In May 1999, after a 40 year career including 100 films Oliver Reed died as he had invariably lived, Drinking With Friends while making another film is well received performance in the Blockbuster gladiator and having Risen through hammer horror films to international starred up as Bill Sikes in Oliver Reed became in his own words the biggest star this country has got With his legendary off screen exploits and blue opinions especially of his co-stars he was one of the most infamous.
All quotes belong to Oliver Reed or others, and copyright belongs to Cliff Goodwin.
Previously in this Blog – We join Oliver as he enters the world of pop music, thanks to Ken Russell by joining the cast of Tommy. And then going drink of drink with Keith Moon which only adds to his reputation of the hellraiser only to only for it to come crashing down to earth with a huge on mighty bum when he meets one of Hollywood’s elite actors.
Chapter Fourteen – The tragedy of my life is that woman always leave me in the end – and usually before they get to know me properly.
Across the floor in a London restaurant a young man wanted to make a swap with Oliver his shirt of Oliver’s leather jacket at first Oliver said no but when the young man pointed out it had a laundry label with a Hollywood studios numbers and the name Errol Flynn on it, Within seconds Oliver had a new shirt. It was two days later still wearing the shirt Oliver’s phone rang and its director Richard Fleischer wanting him to play the part of Miles Hendon in The Prince and The Pauper – the part originally played forty years earlier by Errol Flynn.
The 70s remix would include some of the biggest names in British and American cinema including Rex Harrison, George c Scott, Ernest Borgnine, Raquel Welch and Charlton Heston the title roles of the Prince and the Pauper would be both be played by the teenager Mark Lester who made his film debut opposite Reed in Oliver.
Location shooting would start in Budapest in May 1976, and the producers were taking no chances, they had experienced Oliver’s drunken mayhem first hand. this time they insisted that a river and several kilometers separating him from the cast of the cast. But as ever Oliver behaved impeccably on set, he only disruptive influence was the inability to control his lazy eye which resulted in his fellow actors collapsing in a fit of giggles, which in the end made Oliver started to wear glasses.
However off set was totally different one evening Oliver had come up with the idea of staging a lavish West End production and was telling Michael Ripper and Racqel Welch when Oliver without a word smashed a huge geteau into his own face. ” in this business you have got to be able to laugh at yourself”
the way the shooting schedule had been arranged Oliver Farm himself with two or three days off a week these he had arranged and reserve for him and his friend Reg Prince to go on drinking binges and nightly romps through the bars of Budapest mostly ending in scuffles are mild fracas.
At the beginning of the film Mark Lester was legally still a minor and have been chaperon during the three months of the trip by his mother however by the 11th of July you was to celebrate 18th birthday and the producers and directors had organised a special dinner Oliver failed to turn up the dinner and that dozen so guests however when the sweet was being served the doors of the banqueting hall were kicked open and a disheveled and extremely drunk Oliver came staggering through he announced to Mark leaping onto the table this is for you. and standing in the doorway was a young woman wearing a very tight t-shirt and a very little else extremely well endowed chests were the word Mark Lester private. This president did not go down very well as you may guess and Oliver had to attempt to salvage the situation by entering a bowl of chocolate trifle over his head and frog marching out of the room. unfortunately the Prince and the Pauper would not only Mark the end of Childhood but also the end of his acting career since Oliver he made 15 films sometimes three in a year under the guidance of his parents, however coming-of-age Lester had rebel and demanded control of his financial affairs finding self access to teenage earnings he unfortunately squandered them on high living and drugs. finally at age 27 he was able to kick his addictions and sit his A-levels and become a qualified osteopath.
Alexis Camus – a distant relative of the existential writer and philosopher introduced himself to Oliver one night on a side street bar his mind she recalled was one of the most wonderfully bright and illuminating talking to the 38 year old actor she soon discovered there was a frightening difference between the sober and intoxicated personalities that Oliver held. without a drink he could take your breath away he was interested in so much politics the state of the world and a person’s character give him a drink and he was juvenile a child within a man’s mind with a little boys imagination mysterious things. Oliver’s physical side with far less attractive. he never seen white clean to his French acquaintances who got the impression that he wore the same clothes for days on end. but when he died out with Steve but it was Oliver’s lack of patience and not his clothes that attracted the attention. 1 favourite restaurant was on a street corner with a bar on the ground level the dining room was on the first floor. The restaurant was full but there was no sign of any wages when Oliver attempted to leave he was pressured to stay by Ford half an hour later there are they order still not taken, Oliver pulled himself to his full height picked up a chair and hold it through a window into the street, within seconds and irate manager and five waiters had surrounded Oliver’s table. So he sat down and placed his order.
Oliver returned to England very enthusiastic about working with Michael Winner again, The Big Sleep was the director’s 19th film and it’s 5th with Oliver in the principal role this time as Eddie Mars, a deep and dangerous London casino owner. For the first time winner noticed that his friends drinking habits work beginning to impinge on professionalism while shooting in Chorley Wood and up market Suburb Oliver arrived and announce to winner and his fellow star Robert Mitchum that he I’ve been sitting on a pole the previous evening and done himself some serious damage and he was very insistent that he showed both men. Much to the disappointment and anger of Winner.
on Thursday the 8th of September 1977 Oliver walk to be confronted by the newspaper long knowing it was inevitable the front of the Daily Mirror contains just one headline, drug death drama for wild man Moon Keith Moon the man forever responsible for Oliver Reed’s sense of the bizarre was dead. to Oliver it was a wasteful frightening self deprecating death and for the first time, sowed within the actor thoughts of his own mortality.
by the late 1970s Ian Ogilvy has taken over from Roger Moore as TV Simon Templar, and instead of filming on the back lots of the English Studios they were now replaced with European towns and cities for most of the episodes. and in 1980 the return of the sacred where in the South of France was Oliver, One evening Ian and producer Robert Baker were joined by the Saints elderly creator Leslie Charteris, the Trio were enjoying a drink with Oliver staggered into the bar the barman experience in the ways of the Drunken actor promptly disappeared.
Baker introduced Oliver to both men Oliver was visibly impressed to meet Charteris and pulling a knife insisted that they become Blood Brothers unmoved and unimpressed charteris coldly placed his hand behind his back and picked up the conversation from where they were had been interrupted. Oliver eventually mumbled his way out the bar leaving a trail of blood across the carpet.
Oliver’s relationship with women, was uncompromising and dictatorial and total, he would exercise a kind of Long Distance control over his former mistresses, often telephoning them at hours to pass judgement on theiAr dress up outfit to disapprove of the choice in new boyfriend. one actress in Oliver had an affair with during his marriage to take returns to her Hotel from an award ceremony find a few minutes later the telephone ringing it was Oliver and it was 3 in the morning he had seen her on the television news with a certain man on her arm and called him called her to warn her off the man. after the phone call she suddenly realised that it wasn’t an ex lover calling it was a father or grandfather figure giving her a bit of gentle advice to his favourite relative and it was 14 years after Oliver and her had broken up.
To an individual woman Oliver could be charming and attentive and demanding the same courtesy from his male companions, once reprimanding his son for not liking a female hotel guests cigarette, But he was developing loathing for women as a gender, which frequently got him into trouble and only intensified with age. Unlike his public drunkenness which had learnt to turn on and off at will Oliver hated and intolerance of woman never wavered, and just like the Victorian monument in which he lived, his chattel mentality was lost somewhere in the dark corners, corridors and stairwells of a discredited age and he could see no sense of reason why he should try and find his way out.
by the late 70s his performances on radio and television programme, notably in America that will legendary Oliver’s first appearance on the Jimmy Carson tonight show produced sky high ratings but the actor very few friends. the vet presenter had interviewed the actress Shirley Winters who remained on set when Carson introduced Oliver who then began to expand on his attitude to women and Winters became very visibly agitated and in fact at one point stood up and put her drink of water all over Oliver’s head is comments were bleeped out in order not to offend the viewers what were quoted in full in a studio press release the following day. After the Oliver added Shelley Winters was the one without manners not him.
On-One extended to visit South of France, Oliver Twist persuaded to invest New York who is the light He discovered the yacht was in fact a 64 Chinese jump and the only vessel of its kind in the Mediterranean Sea called the Ding Hao it was on by French Canadian businessman called Cornel Demere. Demere sent his daughter Susie over to Europe to collect the cheque, ever the gentlemen Oliver put her up at his Villa when the business was concluded, She was to fly back to Canada with Oliver but he didn’t want to accept this. So backed into a corner busted to the last and on the morning of Departure he rang the villa were his friend Stevie Ford was staying. With Susie in ear shot Oliver told his friend to find his passport tickets, but as she disappeared for a second he told Ford to ignore the the instructions, but Ford felt he was being played and carry them up to the letter you bought tickets and passport and managed to make the airport just in time, But when boarding began, Oliver was nowhere to be seen he simply disappeared and Susie when back home on her own.
Oliver’s third and final pairing with Glenda Jackson should have sound alarm bells long before shooting had even started. Miss Jackson was hired by the producer screenwriter Judd Bernards to play the title role in The Class of Miss McMichael filmed in Bethnal Green, Oliver would play her authoritarian and hypocritical headmaster and it was written as a black comedy, It soon became apparent to everyone concerned that the project budget what is strictly at the battle Scarred Eastend school in which it was to be shot. For Jackson the tight schedule and budget almost ended her career after a bitter clash with the headmaster her character went around and systematically destroyed his office in a climatic frenzy of the sea she was to put the bookcase down but unknown to her the props department has not been yet be able to replace the rear glass with sugar stunt glass so when she was to pull the bookcase towards her she was showered with glass.Oliver’s meeting with Miss Jackson work professional and perfunctory and restricted to the set they only saw each other during working hours and never socialise even when the film unit went to dinner they sat at opposite ends of the table.
In 1978 Oliver was presented with an opportunity he couldn’t turn down, with the promise of a huge publishers check he began to write his own autobiography the book was written on the run with Oliver remembering indicating memories and stories in pubs and restaurants and On Films says he’s ghostwriter transcribed and polished it. and in such a mood he could elaborate and fabricate almost anything he wanted. it was only true in the sense that Oliver whished it would have happened and so he made it happen. and a among his friends at the launch party of Reed All About Me he was asked by David ball the accountant.
So this is your book then
Yeah, Load of old bollocks really
After thirteen years together Oliver and Jacquie were coming to the the realisation that they’re kind of marriage had involved and degraded into a Jekyll and Hyde situation. Which non of them truly understood very well apart they would telephone each other almost daily but together in the same house for more than a month they embarrass themselves and their friends with their long rambling arguments. The catalyst which marked the end of their time at Broome Hall was when Stephen Ford had had enough of the freeloaders that seem to congregate round Oliver every Sunday and one particular Sunday when 20 people had decided to join in with the annual trip to the Indian restaurant and the bill of £200 was presented he passed Oliver’s hat around and it became clear that many were there are just for the free booze and food.
Added to the fact Oliver’s expensives outpaced his income and in fact the whole house was now a sponge the money off at Oliver Bonas from day one but he continued to make several alterations without really thinking of the consequences even more hours were lost when he demanded is craftsman built to secret but within the estate grounds the first was a two Storey treehouse with a 13 foot ladder which lead to an invited guests area with a fully stocked rural bar. and a second behind the house disguised as a traditional garden shec which contain several easy chairs and the choice of a dozen types of cider.
by 1979 Oliver’s relationship was also nearly bankrupt he had tried to propose two years earlier but Jacquie had turned him down, been married only have made them both unhappy and very irresponsible. She said they had been some vey good times, but much of it had been very difficult as a husband would have been a mess and giving her nothing but insecurities. And on new year’s eve with the individual skirmishes merging into one running battle she finally and now she had the intention to leave as soon as the holidays are over. so Oliver loaded his favourite shotgun stormed into the kitchen round the clock hands to midnight and put both of barrels into its face
Jacquie moved out the next day and by the end of January Broome Hall had been sold.
What I think – well we reach the crossroads with this one, Oliver’s behavior has become his Legacy and legend already which was fine when it was just himself or his many members of his drinking clubs. whatever the situation is whatever the outcome It would just be put down oh that Oliver he’s harmless. But it costing him flim roles or TV interviews all of which have a domino effect no job no money no house no booze. And it wasn’t as if people were giving in ways to change all that. But it was simple to stay in a kind of holding pattern, and like Oliver sid his self he had no real desire to change no real drive. All that was taken up by the acting if he could get it and damn right stupid acts which once would make directors and producers pause for a second when they thought about casting creating a vicious circle.
And even Oliver himself is beginning to craft his own legend by writing or retelling his autobiography to his Ghost Writer, panting himself as he would want to be seen yes we have all done it but not the extent Oliver has.
I don’t think we’re done with the downfall Oliver just yet, his best friend and his wife calling out both the freeloaders and walking out won’t really things just yet there has to be a greater catastrophe or disaster which make Oliver slow down and by be stop just if only to look around at want his life has become.
Looking at the book there is about seven chapters left, one or two are as big if not bigger that this one I not going cut them down or edit them. as I said at the beginning of this project the whole idea was to give a glimpse into this man’s life, for good or bad everything. So can make your own judgements. Now that’s your lot for this week and in the next blog we will be covering more of Mr Reed’s life, as always if you have done thank you for reading and whoever you are whether you be I hope you can join me next week.