Dear Ollie: You're the last of the film-star wild men, a national institution; don't give up now, says an admirer

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
I know you have a lot on your plate at the moment, what with all those Christmas booze-ups and, of course, the celebrations to accompany yesterday's court victory. But I urge you to take time out of your busy schedule to consider that the future of celebrity, in all its glorious awfulness, lies in your hands. It all depends on you keeping your nerve.

Famous people are a sick-makingly sensible lot these days. Bad behaviour is out; self-help is in. Take Amanda de Cadenet. One minute she's posing for Playboy and forgetting her lines on The Word; a few months later she is in LA, having 'done' psycho-therapy; now she's a spokesperson for the Anti-Pornography League. Or how about Peter Townshend, former rock'n'roll animal, who this week announced he was giving up drink to save his marriage?

But surely the whole point of celebrities is outrage and excess: they're richer, more beautiful, more unhappy than everyone else. And more badly behaved.

Which is where you, Ollie, come in. Even in the serious Nineties, you have refused to reform. In 1991, you attended a dinner to celebrate the 500th edition of This Is Your Life; alone among a ballroom full of guests, you had the guts to heckle. In 1992, you torpedoed the notorious Channel 4 discussion programme After Dark, after trying to kiss the American feminist writer Kate Millett. Shameful, but funny.

Last year you appeared on The Word and were goaded into taking your top off and taking the solo vocal during 'Wild Thing'; a brilliant rendition, I thought. Soon afterwards you were banned from live appearances on Sky News after declaring that your future career plans included making love to the female presenter. Replies like that keep daytime television alive.

Outrageous? Usually. Offensive? Sometimes. But boring? Bland? Boorish? Never. A cuddly ox, you fight with a twinkle, not hatred, in your eye. You don't bear grudges, you don't mind being teased. You're a national institution, a cuff in the face of that terrible American obsession with self-improvement. Indeed, behaving badly had become your career: you haven't made a successful film for years, but has that stopped you starring in the Christmas Alka Seltzer ad campaign?

Then came the trial. After an incident in a Seychelles restaurant, your friend, stand-in and self-appointed bodyguard Reg Prince, sued for damages. Perhaps something like this was bound to happen sooner or later: being Ollie Reed's stunt double for 20 years is probably the most dangerous job in the world.

Reg Prince wasn't some hapless bloke in the pub, but an old friend and ally. Now your soulmate has left you, I'm having nightmares about you joining Alcoholics Anonymous, or channelling all your anarchic energy into an Iron John group, or giving up red meat or, God forbid, advertising American Express.

In your darkest moments of self-doubt and despair, remember your own words to a journalist in 1987: 'Gone, all gone. Flynn, Burton, Bogart, Richard Harris doesn't any more. That leaves me.'

(Photograph omitted)

Comments