oliver reed biog.

British Actor


Date of Birth
13 February 1937, Wimbledon, London, England, UK

Date of Death
2 May 1999, Valletta, Malta (heart attack)


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Women in Love

In the 1990s, Oliver Reed (born Robert Oliver Reed) was the lads' legend. Appearing on chat-shows drunk, abusing feminists on sofas on late-night debates, drinking in mind-blowing proportions ... we could be here all night and we still wouldn't list all the things that made this hellraiser a king among hellraisrs.

Looking back, with hindsight, what are we to make of him now? Embarrassed that we found him funny, that we gave attention to the ultimate attention-seeker? Sympathy for that feminist who had a drunken Reed all over her on a late night chat-show? Do we feel any of these things?

Nah. He's a bigger legend now cos there's no-one around like him!

Fitting that it was in a bar that he suffered a suspected heart attack in Malta. Where else would be more approriate? Not my words. Glenda Jackson, no less:

"I think he probably went the way he would have wished."

What a ledge!

The acting wasn't bad either!

Bull-necked, muscular, he got his first big break terrifying children in the BBC's kids series The Golden Spur, and though he has played plenty of ruthless, scheming villains, he has proved his versatility through the years in numerous comedic and swashbuckling parts.

After landing his first starring role in The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), he attracted attention as a sadistic and lecherous motorcycle gang leader in Joseph Losey's The Damned (1963; released in the USA as These Are the Damned in 1965) and as an upper class cut up in Michael Winner's The Jokers (1966). Reed's memorable turns as the evil Bill Sykes in his uncle Carol Reed,'s Oscar-winning musical Oliver! (1968) and as arrogant, intransigent mine owner Gerald Crich in Ken Russell's adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love (1969) brought him international recognition. (His naked, homoerotic wrestling scene with Alan Bates was the subject of much controversy at the time for its unabashed depiction of full-frontal male nudity.) Follow-up roles in two Russell films (The Devils 1971, the Who's Tommy 1975), together with his first appearance as the hot-blooded Athos in Richard Lester 's The Three Musketeers (1973), kept him in the spotlight.

Reed would act in three more swashbucklers for Lester, two of them in 1975, reprising Athos for The Four Musketeers and traveling forward a few centuries to play Otto von Bismarck in The Royal Flash. (The final installment of the Musketeer series, The Return of the Musketeers 1993, went straight to video.)


Demonstrating his comic brilliance in the perverse horror spoof Dr. Heckyl & Mr. Hype (1980), Reed was touching as the gruesomely deformed podiatrist (and foot fetishist) and had a field day playing a parody of macho leading men as Mr. Hype. He delivered a show-stopping turn as Vulcan in Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) and also portrayed Dolly Hopkins in Peter Chelsom's Funny Bones (1995).

1997 was a banner year for Reed who wrapped three films: Marco Polo with Jack Palance and Christopher Lee; his fifth film with Michael Winner, Parting Shots (alongside Diana Rigg, Ben Kingsley and Bob Hoskins); and Menahem Golan's Louisa and the Jackpot.

He died in May 1999 during the filming of what would be his last motion picture, Ridley Scott's spectacular Gladiator (2000). Reed had been drinking with his wife, Josephine, some Maltese friends and crew members of the Royal Navy frigate Cumberland, in a bar called The Pub when he was taken ill. He died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

A friend who was with Reed said: "He had been drinking when he felt sick. I tried giving him artificial respiration on a bench as an ambulance was called." A Malta police spokesman said an ambulance was called five minutes after Reed collapsed, but he died 10 minutes later en route to St Luke's Hospital at 2.30pm local time.

Oliver Reed autographs, photographs and more @ ebay.co.uk (direct link) - just checked and a bigger selection than i have seen everywhere else

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    He was 5' 11"


    Ollie made well over 100 film and tv appearances


    Married to Josephine Burge (1985 to his death) and Kate Byrne (1959 - 1969) (divorced) 1 child


    Never appeared on stage


    His half-brother is the sports commentator Simon Reed


    Deadringer for Robbie Williams


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