Oliver Reed

Oliver Reed


2/13/1938, Wimbledon, London, England, UK



Birth Name

Robert Oliver Reed.


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Oliver Reed was one of the most dynamic actors England ever produced. His broody good looks, charismatic charm and undeniable acting ability swiftly brought him to the attention of notable film directors Michael Winner and Ken Russell. His sense of menace often had him cast in the bad…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • In 2001 Oliver & co. were nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture for Gladiator (2000).

    • In 1983, Oliver won the Best Actor Award for: Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980) at the Fantafestival.

    • In 2001 Oliver was nominated for the BAFTA Film Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in Gladiator (2000).

    • Oliver appeared as Alister Crowley in the Radio 4 play, The Death of Alexander Scriabin, on June 18th, 1995.

    • Former snooker champion Alex Higgins, himself suffering from throat cancer, was the only celebrity to attend Oliver's funeral in Ireland.

    • In 1973 Steve McQueen flew to England to meet Oliver 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 Oliver's home Broome Hall, continued into the night until Oliver 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."

    • Oliver was a close friend of The Who's drummer, Keith Moon.

    • The actor Oliver admired most was Errol Flynn.

    • By the mid-1970s Oliver 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 hell raiser 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."

    • Oliver was one of very few celebrities to remain in England during the 1970s, when taxes were very high. Because of this he referred to himself as "Mr England."

    • Oliver narrowly missed out on playing super spy 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."

    • Oliver was related by marriage to fellow actor Edward Fox, who was once married to his cousin, Tracy Reed, daughter of director Sir Carol Reed.

    • Oliver was the cousin of actress Tracy Reed and of the actor David Tree.

    • Oliver was dyslexic.

    • Oliver's first job (at the age of 17) was as a bouncer at a Soho night-club.

    • Oliver was the grandson of the actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who founded the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1904.

    • It cost director Ridley Scott $3,000,000.00 to digitally recreate Oliver's face after he died during the filming of Gladiator (2000).

    • Oliver 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.

    • Oliver 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 beating five much younger Royal Navy sailors at arm-wrestling. His bar bill for that final lunch time totaled 270 Maltese lira, almost £450.

    • Oliver was the father of Mark Reed, with his first wife Kate Byrne and of Sarah Reed, with his partner, dancer Jacqueline Daryl.

    • Oliver was the nephew of the film director Sir Carol Reed, who directed him in one of his best roles, as the villainous "Bill Sykes" in Oliver! (1968).

    • Oliver had two brothers. David Reed became his business manager and his half-brother Simon Reed became his press agent.

    • Oliver 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 paid to his screen career.

    • Oliver belonged to the same dental practice as horror star Christopher Lee.

    • Oliver was married to Josephine Burge from September, 1985 until his death on May 2, 1999.

    • Oliver was married to Kate Byrne from 1959 until their divorce in 1969. They had one child together.

    • Oliver was 5' 11" (1.80 m) tall.

  • Quotes

    • Oliver: You meet a better class of people in pubs.

    • Oliver: I do not live in the world of sobriety.

    • Oliver: My only regret is that I didn't drink every pub dry and sleep with every woman on the planet.

    • Oliver: 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.

    • Oliver: There is, of course, a world of difference between cricket and the movie business ... I suppose doing a love scene with Racquel Welch roughly corresponds to scoring a century before lunch.

    • Oliver: 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.

    • Oliver: I also use women as a sex object; maybe I'm kinky. However, I like to talk to them as well.

    • Oliver: I like the effect drink has on me. What's the point of staying sober?

    • Oliver: I'm the biggest star this country has got, destroy me and you destroy the whole British film industry.

    • Oliver: 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.