Tag Archives: alcoholism

xoxoxoe, #18, Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, and Oliver Reed, by Robert Sellers, #CBR3

Here is an excerpt from my review of my #18 book, Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, and Oliver Reed, by Robert Sellers, on my blog, xoxoxo e:

Another sloshy biography … Here is an excerpt from my review of my #18 book, Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, and Oliver Reed, by Robert Sellers, on my blog, xoxoxo e:

The only thing slightly analytical comes from some quotes by the actors:

“Burton, Harris, O’Toole [and] Reed …shared the common experience of being war babies, of being bombed, of being evacuated, of facing compulsory service … there was rationing: no meat, no food and no booze. …’Bollocks,’ railed O’Toole. ‘We … wanted the roaring twenties, please. The … drinking was a liberation from the fear and restrictions of the war years. The frivolity and the fun had gone. Booze was a way of recapturing it. We certainly had a bloody good time.’”

The joyful inebriation that O’Toole described was probably intended by the author, but reading about drunks is not the next best thing to being there. One drunken story after another does get to wear a bit thin. How many times do we need to read about Reed throwing a table through a pub window or Harris trying to get into a barroom brawl? Their constant state of inebriation gets as tedious for the reader as it must have done for the (sober) people in the actors’ lives. After twenty years of carousing, each man’s health started to fail, and the drinking got a bit much for them (excluding Oliver Reed who was out looking for a party until the end.)

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xoxoxoe, #17, Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century, by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, #CBR3

After reading Samantha’s great review, I had to check out this book for myself. I’ve been on a biography kick ever since, which is not the usual book I reach for, but I’ve been having fun. Here is an excerpt from my review of my #17 book, Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century, by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, on my blog, xoxoxo e:

Richard himself always referred to their affair as Le Scandale. His friend and mentor Laurence Olivier sent him a telegram at the height of Le Scandale asking, “Make up your mind, dear heart. Do you want to be a great actor or a household word?” Richard sent him a cable back: “Both.” That is the crux of the Richard Burton dilemma. He was heralded as the greatest actor of his generation, only to have squandered his prodigious talents in sub-par movies and at the feet of Elizabeth, worshiping her and forever scooping up after their dogs. Whether that is entirely true or not is immaterial, as Richard himself believed it. …

Despite their incessant brawling and utter disregard for the long-term well-being of each other — they continued to booze and pill-pop to excess even when told it was life-threatening — they had an amazing bond and love and need for each other. Elizabeth was his co-dependent drinking buddy and love of his life, but she also brought out the best in his acting. Before he met her his film-acting style was showy and stiff (The Robe). After they met, they worked on films that were challenging in subject matter, with international directors, like Elizabeth’s previous films Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Suddenly, Last Summer, and BUtterfield 8. Richard may have introduced Elizabeth to Shakespeare and to performing on stage, but it was Elizabeth who helped him reign in his huge delivery for film roles and introduced him to Tennessee Williams.

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