Posted 20 hours ago

Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed

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So wonderfully captures the wanton belligerence of both binging and stardom you almost feel the guys themselves are telling the tales. Reed who took the worst B-movie roles, wrecked the most furniture, kept the most dangerous company (during one scarily memorable phase he joined forces with the Who’s wild-man drummer, Keith Moon) and could most naturally play a werewolf without makeup. The life of the addict is not just grey and monotonous – waiting for the man, from fix to fix – it’s perilous.

Robert Sellers is the author of several celebrity biographies, including the original hardcover Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, and Oliver Reed, as well as books on Sting, Tom Cruise, and the film industry. He's joined in turn by Burton, Harris, Reed, and O'Toole, who take Martin on tours of their tumultuous childhoods, rises to stardom, and chaotic personal lives. Of course Sellers finds it hard to keep the jokey tone going for the whole book as professional alcoholics - sorry, hellraisers - while being entertaining are also tragic, but he does a decent job of keeping things light. Gonzo antiheroes … Benicio Del Toro and Johnny Depp in the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.Three of them died as they lived, taking no prisoners (Reed fittingly passed on in a pub after a drunken evening arm-wrestling a group of Maltese sailors while filming "Gladiator", and Burton literally pickled himself to death--his autopsy found his spine to be completely encrusted with crystallized alcohol). This is the story of four of the greatest thespian boozers who ever walked - or staggered - off a film set into a pub.

Robert Sellers and JAKe cleverly weave the four biographies seamlessly into one fast-paced adventure of drunken binges, orgies, parties and fun. Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and Peter O' Toole were among the four greatest actors of their generation. O'Toole is the one I knew the least about but if there's a redeemable guy in this foursome, Peter was forced to quit drinking early and feels the most harmless. Still, in an anthology of postwar Irish poetry forthcoming from Harvard in the spring, the editor notes “the surprising number of poems dedicated to Hartnett.It's a story of drunken binges of near biblical proportions, parties and orgies, broken marriages, drugs, riots and wanton sexual conquests. It’s a grotesque fantasy, a savage, rage-fuelled, at times extremely funny 100 mph rollercoaster “Journey into the dark heart of the American dream”. All four men had talent to burn and very interesting lives and if there's one thing this book can be accused off is to make them sound quite boring after a while. And the horrors of cold turkey – “like ants were crawling under the skin” – when you end up in jail.

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