Hellraisers : The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed
Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed: On screen they were stars. Off screen they were legends.Hellraisersis 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. They got away with the kind of behaviour that today's film stars could scarcely dream of, because of their mercurial acting talent and because the press and public loved them. They were truly the last of a breed. Hellraisersis a celebratory catalogue of their miscreant deeds, a greatest hits package of their most breathtakingly outrageous behavior, told with humor and affection. You can't help but enjoy it-after all, they certainly did.
Show business biographer Sellers (The Battle for Bond) chronicles the booze-soaked lives of four of the stage and screen's most bombastic performers. Welsh Burton (1925-1984), Irish-born Harris (1930-2002), Irish-born and English-raised O'Toole (born 1932) and English Reed (1937-1999) gave some of the 20th century's most memorable performances, but were equally famous for their offscreen antics. Except for Reed, their careers began on the British stage, before all four were lured to Hollywood, starring in such classics as Lawrence of Arabia (O'Toole), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Burton), Camelot (Harris) and The Three Musketeers (Reed). Consuming staggering amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, all were forces to be reckoned with on the set, often turning up too drunk to perform. Burton's tempestuous affair with Elizabeth Taylor-which led to two marriages and two divorces-often eclipsed his talent, while O'Toole, Harris and Reed saw their careers slump in the late 1970s and '80s, only to be revived by roles in such successful films as Troy (O'Toole), the Harry Potter franchise (Harris) and Gladiator (Reed). Though Sellers often muddles the chronology by switching too often between the four's liquored-up antics, his glimpse into Hollywood's culture of excess is more than enough to satisfy. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Thomas Dunne Books
April 26, 2011
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