Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rachel Roberts and her Drink Problem

Rachel Roberts was a brilliant stage and screen actress who ended up dead in Los Angeles after a barbiturate overdose.

Her ability to get completely rat-arsed and embarrass herself at social gatherings was legendary. At a party attended by Hollywood star Robert Mitchum and his missus, Roberts, as usual, got royally sozzled. Dropping to her hands and knees she padded across the floor to where Mitchum was standing. After pawing his leg and making barking noises she attempted to open his fly with her teeth. Later she would tell husband Rex Harrison that she was just pretending to be a Welsh corgi.

Her appearance on the Russell Harty chat show was so drunken the tapes had to be expunged. During recording she called Harty "a silly cunt", slagged off women's libbers (apparently all they needed was "a cock up their cunt or their arse") and proceeded to sing The Lady is a Tramp while the studio audience roundly booed her.

In LA, at Verita Thompson's (former lover of Humphrey Bogart) Mexican restaurant, the drunk Welsh-speaking actress shocked one and all by stripping naked after a dare made by her black hustler lover.

At another party in Los Angeles Roberts scraped some skin off author Gavin Lambert's nose with her fingernail. Lambert (one of the great writers on Hollywood) had to go to the bathroom to put a plaster on his profusely bleeding schnozzle. When he returned and accused her of scarring him for life she said: "Well, people have to live with their scars."

An ironic remark, as when she killed herself in 1980 - overdosing on Nembutals, Mogadons and an unidentified acid solution - her corpse was found covered in lacerations. In her suicidal state she had wandered through rose bushes in her garden before crashing through a glass screen in her kitchen. She was discovered dead on her kitchen floor with the kettle still boiling.

Somehow between the non-stop boozing, pill-popping, sexual promiscuity and her eventual suicide she managed to put in some fantastic acting performances. None better than her three different roles in Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man! (see pic).