Oliver Reed’s last day

Oliver Reed, the famed actor and alcoholic, drank 8 pints of beer, 12 shots of rum, half a bottle of whiskey, and some shots of cognac, arm-wrestled five sailors, and then died of a heart attack.

Oliver Reed
Nijs, Jac. de / Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons

Oliver Reed appeared in nearly a hundred films, including the 1973 version of The Three Musketeers and the 1968 musical Oliver! (no, Oliver Reed did not play Oliver; the film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards but I think it would have been even better if Oliver Reed had played Oliver Twist). He was also a notorious alcoholic – often appearing on talk shows very drunk and behaving very badly, especially towards female guests.

Like Ernest Hemingway did, I imagine that he had built up a mythology around himself and felt a need to maintain it. And, like Hemingway, it led to his death.

In 1999, Reed was in Malta, filming Gladiator. On May 2, he got into a drinking contest in a pub in Valletta which was known as “The Pub.” The drinking contest was with British sailors and Reed won it. German lager, rum, whiskey, cognac, and then arm-wrestling five of those sailors. He beat the sailors but then had a heart attack, dying on the way to the hospital.

It remains one of the most notorious drinking sessions on record. Reed was 61 years old. The pub later added the description “Ollie’s Last Pub” in his memory – rather tasteless, if you ask me.

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