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Authors: Robert Sellers

Hollywood Hellraisers

BOOK: Hollywood Hellraisers
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Praise for
Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty, and Jack Nicholson

“Great fun.”
— Guardian

“[A] boisterous account of four of Hollywood’s wildest leading men.”
— The Times

— The Skinny

“[A]n entertaining if sometimes scurrilous portrait of an industry out of control and off its head.”

— The List

“Old school, bad boy antics. Recommended.”
— Ottawa Citizen

“A gleeful chronicle of movie star misbehavior.”
— Empire

“Do you ever get the feeling that a book has been written especially for you? That’s how I felt when I first spied [Hollywood Hellraisers].”

—Kathy Charles, author of John Belushi Is Dead

“[F]antastic book.”
— The Knutsford Times

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

‟Hellraisers is completely unapologetic about its party-hearty premise . . . a rowdy collection of greatest hits, and . . . a fun-loving celebration of drunkenness.”

— The New York Times

“[A] tremendous amount of unapologetic, unselfconscious fun.”
— Los Angeles Times

“A welcome surprise. . .. Like the rejuvenating martinis and blurry haze of cigarettes in Mad Men, Robert Sellers’ nostalgic Hellraisers . . . amounts to an unapologetic celebration of the plastered and the damned in our sanctimonious Oprah age of public confession and easy redemption.”

— The Wall Street Journal

“Robert Sellers’ outrageously entertaining history proves that today’s celebrities don’t have much on Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris, and Oliver Reed.”

The Daily Beast
, “This Week’s Hot Reads”

“Colorful anecdotes.”

Daily Post

“[A] celebratory catalogue of their miscreant deeds, told with humor and affection and not an ounce of moralizing. Enjoy it.”

—Turner Classic Movies, “Movie News”


Daily Mail

“Wonderful tales.”

Dallas News

“A jaw-dropping account of their twisted, tortured, and politically incorrect lives.”

Daily Record

“Entertaining reading.”

, UK


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

Sting: A Biography

The Films of Sean Connery

Sigourney Weaver

Tom Cruise: A Biography

Harrison Ford: A Biography

Sean Connery: A Celebration

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: The Inside Story of HandMade Films

Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC

The Battle of Bond: The Genesis of Cinema’s Greatest Hero

Hollywood Hellraisers
The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty, and Jack Nicholson
Robert Sellers

To Bradley, Doug, Keith, Marc, and Martin

Copyright © 2010 by Robert Sellers

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Skyhorse Publishing, 555 Eighth Avenue, Suite 903, New York, NY 10018.

Skyhorse Publishing books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, or educational purposes. Special editions can also be created to specifications. For details, contact the Special Sales Department, Skyhorse Publishing, 555 Eighth Avenue, Suite 903, New York, NY 10018 or [email protected]

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Sellers, Robert.
Hollywood hellraisers : the wild lives and fast times of Marlon Brando,
Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty, and Jack Nicholson / Robert Sellers.
p. cm.

Includes index.


1. Motion picture actors and actresses--United States--Biography. 2.
Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Social life and customs. I. Title.
PN1998.2.S455 2010


Printed in the United States of America

I would like to thank the following who contributed to and agreed to be interviewed for this book:

Don Aly
Vic Armstrong
Alexandra Bastedo
Tony Bill
Richard Bradford
Kit Carson
Doug Claybourne
Roger Corman
Alex Cox
Clive Donner
Freddie Fields
David Foster
Gary Foster
William Fraker
James Frawley
Gray Frederickson
John Gilmore
John Glen
Trevor Griffiths
George Hickenlooper
Dwayne Hickman
Marty Ingels
Henry Jaglom
Shirley Jones
Michael Lake
Jon Landau
Charles Langston
Tom Mankiewicz
George Miller
Matthew Modine
Dan Paulson
Karyn Rachtman
Kevin Reynolds
Marion Rosenberg
Albert S Ruddy
Richard Rush
Robert H Solo
Richard Stanley
Leon Vitali
Michael Winner
Susannah York

Picture Credits

Marlon Brando wearing a white T-shirt © John Engstead / Getty Images, also appears on cover; Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando © Rex Features; Marlon Brando,
One-Eyed Jacks
(Producer: Frank P. Rosenberg, Director: Marlon Brando), 1961 © Everett Collection / Rex Features; Marlon Brando, circa 1970 © Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images; Marlon Brando,
The Godfather
(Producer: Albert S. Ruddy, Director: Francis Ford Coppola), 1972 © Paramount Pictures / Getty Images; Marlon Brando,
Apocalypse Now
(Producer and Director: Francis Ford Coppola), 1979 © Everett Collection / Rex Features; Marlon and Christian Brando, 1990 © Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images; Dennis Hopper, 1955 © John Kobal Foundation, Hulton Archive / Getty Images; Dennis Hopper, 1968 © Susan Wood, Hulton Archive / Getty Images, also appears on cover; Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda,
Easy Rider
(Producer: Peter Fonda, Director: Dennis Hopper), 1969 © Silver Screen Collection, Hulton Archive / Getty Images; Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini,
Blue Velvet
(Producer: Fred Caruso, Director: David Lynch), 1986 © Everett Collection / Getty Images; Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper, 2004 © Vince Bucci / Getty Images; Dennis Hopper Mug Shot © Sipa Press / Rex Features; Dennis Hopper, 2008 © Sipa Press / Rex Features; Natalie Wood with Warren Beatty, circa 1960 © Everett Collection / Rex Features; Warren Beatty, 1961 © Everett Collection / Rex Features, also appears on cover; Warren Beatty,
Bonnie and Clyde
(Producer: Warren Beatty, Director: Arthur Penn), 1967 © SNAP / Rex Features; Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, 1971 © Ron Galella, Wire Image / Getty Images; Warren Beatty,
(Producer: Warren Beatty, Director Hal Ashby), 1975 © SNAP / Rex Features; Warren Beatty and Madonna,
Dick Tracy
(Producer and Director: Warren Beatty), 1990 © BuenaVista, Everett Collection / Rex Features; Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, 2000 © Dan Callister / Getty Images; Jack Nicholson,
Cry Baby Killer
(Producer: Roger Corman, Director: Jus Addiss), 1958 © Everett Collection / Rex Features; Jack Nicholson,
(Producer: Robert Evans, Director Roman Polanski), 1974 © SNAP / Rex Features, also appears on cover; Jack Nicholson,
The Shining
(Producer and Director: Stanley Kubrick), 1979 © SNAP / Rex Features; Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando,
Missouri Breaks
(Producer: Elliott Kastner, Director Arthur Penn), 1997 © Stefanie Kong / Rex Features; Jack Nicholson, 1980 © Brian Lanker, Sports Illustrated / Getty Images; Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson, 1986 © Fotos International / Getty Images; Jack Nicholson, Anger Management, (Producer: Barry Bernardi, Director: Peter Segal), 2003 © Columbia, Everett Collection / Rex Features

Select Bibliography

The following previous books on our bad boys proved most useful:
Songs My Mother Taught Me
by Marlon Brando (Century, 1994)
by Richard Schickel (Pavilion Books, 1999)
Marlon Brando
by Patricia Bosworth (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001)
Brando Unzipped
by Darwin Porter (Blood Moon, 2005)
Dennis Hopper
by Elena Rodriguez (St. Martin’s Press, 1988)
Warren Beatty and Desert Eyes
, by David Thomson (Doubleday, 1987)
Warren Beatty
by John Parker (Hodder Headline, 1993)
Warren Beatty: The Sexiest Man Alive
by Ellis Amburn (Virgin Books, 2003)
The Joker’s Wild
by John Parker (Macmillan, 1991)
Jack’s Life
by Patrick McGilligan (Hutchinson, 1994)

Jack Nicholson: The Life and Times of an Actor on the Edge
by Peter Thompson (Mainstream, 1998)

Other books proved helpful with miscellaneous stories:
Julie Christie
by Michael Feeney Callan (W.H. Allen, 1984)
The Kid Stays in the Picture
, By Robert Evans (Hyperion, 1994)
Easy Riders and Raging Bulls
by Peter Biskind (Simon & Schuster Ltd, 1998)
The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody
by Kim Masters (Collins, 2001)
Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood
, by Suzanne Finstad (Century, 2001)
Undressing Emmanuelle
by Sylvia Kristel (Fourth Estate, 2007)
Madonna: An Intimate Biography
by J. Randy Taraborrelli (Simon &
Schuster, 2007)
Joan Collins: Biography of an Icon
, by Graham Lord (Orion, 2007)

I’d also like to thank the staff of the British Film Institute library for
allowing me access to their vast collection of magazine and newspaper
cuttings regarding our bad boys.

Freddie Fields quote from unpublished interviews with Freddie Fields by
David Rensin, 2004.


ulholland Drive is a long, winding road that snakes through one of the prettiest and most desolate hillsides in Hollywood, high above the smog and pestilence below. For three decades two of the movie industry’s most powerful stars, Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson, shared the same driveway and lived in homes just a few minutes’ walk apart through dense wood; their pal Warren Beatty lived just several houses away. Dennis Hopper, by contrast, lived in Mexico, then Venice Beach, always the outsider, Hollywood’s interloper, though he did make Jack a star. Together they formed a kind of unholy union that led local cops to nickname Mulholland Drive ‘Bad Boy Hill’. Jack always preferred Bad Boy Drive.

A beauty spot, full of hiking trails and millionaires’ residences, miles from the sound of LA gunfire and crack dens, Mulholland Drive was by no means immune to the seedier side of Hollywood life. In the late seventies the hillside strangler caused panic in the community, torturing, raping and murdering ten women. One of the victims was found behind Brando’s house. A little later one of his near neighbours was murdered, strangled in the bathroom. ‘Mulholland Drive is full of crazy people,’ he said. ‘We have nuts coming up and down all the time.’ Is it any wonder David Lynch made a film about the place?

Jack, suiting his personality, was pretty lackadaisical about security, believing no one would wish to cause him harm – didn’t the whole planet just adore him? – though the odd nutty fan did get in from time to time. As for Marlon, he bought a gun just days after the Manson murders, admitted pointing the thing in the face of at least three intruders, and progressively turned his home into a fortress. Jack said Brando was paranoid about anyone getting near his front door. One time a couple of visitors, arriving for a barbecue at Jack’s, turned left instead of right and ended up in Marlon’s compound and face to face with two mean-looking guys brandishing shotguns. Tom Mankiewicz, creative consultant on
, recalls arriving there with director Richard Donner to ask Brando if he fancied playing Superman’s pop. ‘We drove into the courtyard and as we were about to get out suddenly four dogs came running at the car, they were Rottweilers and Dobermanns, and we stayed inside and were honking and honking and the dogs were snarling and jumping on the bonnet. All of a sudden Brando appeared in the doorway wearing a caftan, clapped his hands three times and the dogs came running towards him. I said, “Dick, I think we’re in trouble here.”’

Inside Brando’s domain, you’d never have known a movie star lived there. All his showbiz souvenirs, annotated scripts of
The Godfather
and suchlike, worth an absolute fortune, he stored like junk in an outhouse in the grounds.

In stark contrast, Jack proudly displays his Oscar statuettes and Golden Globe trophies. It’s entirely his place. It’s where, in the late sixties, as part, no doubt, of some mystical find-yourself bollockry, he spent three months walking round completely naked from dawn till sunset, not giving a damn about visitors or the ‘For God’s sake, Dad’ pleadings of his daughter. It’s where Marlon used to come calling when Jack wasn’t home and raid his fridge, because the silly bugger had padlocked his own as part of his latest starvation diet, which obviously wasn’t working. Curiously the Great One would often leave behind his underpants.

Warren bought his pad in the mid-seventies just to be near his pal Jack; before then he lived mostly out of hotel rooms. ‘The house was one of the most spectacular that I’ve been to in Los Angeles,’ says
Dick Tracy
producer Jon Landau. ‘But it felt like a home. Often you go into a star’s house and it doesn’t. This one felt lived in, very comfortable.’ But it took Warren years to settle in and furnish the place. In 1978 a British reporter paid a visit, surprised that it was still half-finished. Security guards patrolled the grounds, obviously not very well since they’d let her straight in, no questions asked. ‘I suppose Warren’s reputation as a woman chaser had got me in.’ When there was another murder nearby Warren stepped up his personal security, installing a kidnapper-proof vault, replete with thick, half-inch steel-plated walls and closed-circuit TV. Get into that, you fuckers!

Warren’s terminal indecisiveness, taking years to choose wallpaper, is one of many curious personality quirks. This is a man who travelled with the fast crowd yet rarely drank, snorted or smoked, a multimillionaire who wore dirty jeans for three days in a row and made coast-to-coast plane reservations for six consecutive flights, then missed all of them.

And there are the women, of course – lots of them. When Woody Allen was asked what he would like to come back as in another life he gave the classic response: ‘Warren Beatty’s fingertips.’ The women Warren has supposedly bedded is a roll call of some of the most beautiful and legendary of the twentieth century — Julie Christie, Brigitte Bardot, Madonna, Princess Margaret, Cher, Vivien Leigh, Jane Fonda, Catherine Deneuve, Barbra Streisand, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Maria Callas, Natalie Wood, Britt Ekland, even Emmanuelle herself: Sylvia Kristel. It’s a miracle his cock didn’t drop off.

There were tales that if you were an aspiring actress just arrived in Hollywood, maybe waitressing while awaiting your big break, it was really only a matter of time before you got a call from good ol’ Warren. Ask Nicole Kidman. Literally within weeks of arriving in Tinsel Town from her native Australia Nicole found herself chased by Warren. He wasn’t her type, so she bagged Tom Cruise instead. According to friend and production designer Richard Sylbert: ‘Warren told me once he had made a decision, “I’m either going to fuck a lot of women or be a politician. I’ve made a choice, I’m gonna fuck a lot of women.”’

Jack is Jack and will never change — thank God. He gets away with the kind of bad-boy behaviour that other celebs or mere mortals would be publicly crucified for. Attack a guy’s car with a golf club? ‘No problem, Jack,’ say the LAPD, ‘we’ll let you off.’ He’s also bald and paunchy yet chases nubile actresses around and has talked openly about drug taking with barely a tabloid titter. I mean, this is a guy who wears shades indoors, for Christ’s sake, and doesn’t get the piss taken out of him. Such is his mythic status now that the
LA Times
said he had the gravitational pull of Jupiter.

And what of Dennis, a man who everyone, including himself, thought would be dead by the time he reached thirty, a man who used to take three grams of cocaine so he could sober up enough to drink more, who on
Easy Rider
didn’t change his clothes for six months and punched a hole in a coffee table with a local drug dealer’s head? A man whose seduction techniques included walking up to women in the street and saying, ‘Hi, I’m Dennis Hopper. Do you wanna fuck?’

Between the four of them, God knows how many women have been hammered — more than the Allied landing force in Normandy, probably. And how many joints smoked, lines snorted, faces punched, reputations soiled and tantrums thrown. It’s a wonder Hollywood survived. It did, but after our bad boys were finished with it, it was never to be the same again.

BOOK: Hollywood Hellraisers
12.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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