With the help of exclusive interviews with colleagues and close friends, Robert Sellers' Peter O’Toole: The Definitive Biography paints the first complete picture of this complex and much-loved man. The book reveals what drove him to extremes, why he drank to excess for many years and hated authority, but it also describes a man who was fiercely intelligent, with a great sense of humor and huge energy.
Giving full weight to his extraordinary career, this is an insightful, funny, and moving tribute to an iconic actor who made a monumental contribution to theater and cinema.
For the first time Reed's close family has agreed to collaborate on a project about the man himself. The result is a fascinating new insight into a man seen by many as merely a brawling, boozing hellraiser. And yet he was so much more than this. For behind that image, which all too often he played up to in public, was a vastly complex individual, a man of deep passions and loyalty but also deep-rooted vulnerability and insecurities. Why was a proud, patriotic, intelligent, successful and erudite man so obsessed about proving himself to others, time and time again?
Although the Reed myth is of Homeric proportions, he remains a national treasure and somewhat peculiar icon.
Praise for other books by Robert Sellers:
Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed:
'So wonderfully captures the wanton belligerence of both binging and stardom you almost feel the guys themselves are telling the tales.' GQ.
Vic Armstrong: The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman:
'This is the best and most original behind-the-scenes book I have read in years, gripping and revealing.' Roger Lewis, Daily Mail.
Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down: '...a rollicking good read... Sellers has done well to capture a vivid snapshot of this exciting time.' Lynn Barber, Sunday Times.
“I should have been dead ten times over. I believe in miracles. It’s an absolute miracle that I’m still around.”—Dennis Hopper
“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police.”—Jack Nicholson
“The best time to get married is noon. That way, if things don’t work out, you haven’t blown the whole day.”—Warren Beatty
They’re the baddest bad-asses Hollywood as ever seen: Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty, and Jack Nicholson. They are men to whom rules did not apply; normal standards of behavior were simply too wearisome to worry about. These are men who brawled, boozed, snorted, and screwed their way into legendhood—but along the way they changed acting and the way movies were made forever. Hollywood Hellraisers is a whistle-stop tour of jaw-dropping sexual activity, misbehavior of an Olympic standard, all-out excess, and genuine madness. It’s a wonder Hollywood survived.
Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed: On screen they were stars. Off screen they were legends!
Hellraisers is the story of drunken binges of near biblical proportions, parties and orgies, broken marriages, riots, and wanton sexual conquests. Indeed, acts so outrageous that if you or I had perpetrated them we could have ended up in jail. Their mercurial acting talent and love from the press and the public allowed them to get away with the kind of behaviour that today's film stars could scarcely dream of. They were truly the last of a breed, the last of the movie hellraisers.
This book traces the intertwining lives and careers of Burton, Harris, O'Toole, and Reed, plus an assortment of other movie boozers who crossed their path. It's a celebratory catalogue of their miscreant deeds, a greatest-hits package, as it were, of their most breathtakingly outrageous behavior, told with humor and affection. You can't help but enjoy it—after all, they bloody well did.
"God put me on this earth to raise sheer hell."--Richard Burton
"I don't have a drink problem. But if that was the case and doctors told me I had to stop I'd like to think that I would be brave enough to drink myself into the grave."--Oliver Reed
"I was a sinner. I slugged some people. I hurt many people. And it's true, I never looked back to see the casualties."--Richard Harris
"Booze is the most outrageous of drugs, which is why I chose it."--Peter O'Toole
This was a new breed, many culled from the working class industrial towns of Britain, and nothing like them has been seen before or since. Their raw earthy brilliance brought realism to a whole range of groundbreaking theatre from John Osborne's Look Back in Anger to Joan Littlewood and Harold Pinter and the creation of the National Theatre. And they ripped apart the staid, middle-class British film industry with kitchen-sink classics like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, This Sporting Life, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, A Kind of Loving and Billy Liar before turning their sights on international stardom: Connery with James Bond, O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, Finney with Tom Jones and Caine in Zulu.
Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down brings alive the trail-blazing period of theatre and film from 1956-1964 through the vibrant energy and exploits of this revolutionary generation of stars who bulldozed over austerity Britain and paved the way for the swinging 60s. What Peter Biskind's Easy Riders Raging Bulls did for American cinema writing so Don't Let the Bastards will do for the British cinema.
It all started when Beatle George Harrison stepped in to fund Life of Brian when Monty Python's original backers pulled out. His company, HandMade films, went on to make some of the best British films of the 80s (Withnail and I, Time Bandits and Mona Lisa among them), but then things started to go wrong... This is the incredible and often hilarious insiders' story of what happened...
Rarely seen without a smile on his face in public, in reality, Kenny was a deeply insecure man who suffered severe bouts of depression. He also struggled with his sexuality, only coming out to the public in 1985. Diagnosed with HIV in 1987, Kenny died in 1995.
This in-depth and affectionate biography has been fully authorised by Kenny's family and contains original interviews with Kenny's sister, Kate and with his former wife, Lee, as well as entertainment figures such as Barry Cryer, Cliff Richard, Chris Tarrant and Paul Gambaccini. Packed with fabulous stories about the highs and lows of Kenny's life, his great friendships with The Beatles and Freddie Mercury, this is a book that any fan of comedy and entertainment must read.
Little Ern! takes us from Ernie's childhood in Leeds, where he supported his family by performing on stage, to being left to fend for himself in London at thirteen, a star in the making. We see his friendship with the young comic Eric grow when they toured the theatres of war-torn Britain as teenagers, and discover how their double-act evolved. They survived numerous setbacks on the road to television stardom - and we learn the impact fame had on their lives and friendship. Fully exploring the crucial contribution he made to the act, this charming biography reminds us why Ernie Wise deserves his place in the pantheon of comedy greats.
This hilarious volume makes for an ideal bedside companion or pub reading fodder, as it scrutinises and salutes these glorious individuals, from Winston Churchill to Keith Moon, George Best to Ernest Hemingway, Wild Bill Hickok to Sam Peckinpah, Ozzy Osbourne to Errol Flynn. Just thank God we didn't have to live next door to any of them.