The Tragic Side of the Hell Raisers
So the post I did on Oliver Reed was a fun one. He was lucky enough to live till age 61. His friend, fellow Hell raiser with whom he partied hard, Keith Moon only lived to 32. Heck if you drink that much and make it to 72 as Richard Harris did consider yourself lucky. Not as lucky as Peter O’Toole who made it to 81 (though I think he quit drinking in the late 70s? after it nearly killed him; Richard Harris too, after a doctor’s warning, took over a decade off from drinking before returning to beer).
With that we get to the great Richard Burton. Out of all of them, I think he was the most compelling (and handsome). Below we see him describe to Dick Cavett his own experience of the dark side of addiction. I also think it sheds light on a much misunderstand dynamic. People tend to think if you are an alcoholic or drug addict, you’ll simply cease to be able to function and dedicate yourself only to your vice, perhaps end up on the streets or not working, living at home off of something or someone. And certainly that describes a certain kind of addiction.
But there’s a whole world out there of “functional addiction.” Alcohol and/or other drugs become more like cigarettes; you can function — very often brilliantly — and unfortunately, rely on the drug to function. Note how Burton discusses the first time he had been on stage WITHOUT a drink.
Burton lived to 58.