Olly's Last Pub
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It’s one of those age-old questions that, appropriately in this case, often gets asked during a drinking session in a pub: “When and where would you like to die?” We don’t know if anyone ever asked the notorious hell-raiser Oliver Reed but we’re guessing he would have opted for: “During a drinking session in a pub!”
And so it was immensely fitting, and hugely sad at the same time, that one of the finest actors of the last century did indeed drink his last drink, and draw his last breath, at the end of a ‘big night’ in a Valletta pub. It’s actually called The Pub, and the use of the definitive article in the title is again immensely apt. Olly didn’t just die in a pub, he died in The Pub - a famous watering hole in the capital.
That fateful day was May 2, 1999 when Reed had reached only 61-years of age, leaving behind him some excellent performances in films like Women in Love, The Devils, The Three Musketeers, Oliver and Castaway. Reed was on Malta working at the time, filming scenes for the brilliant Hollywood blockbuster and multi-Oscar-winning epic, Gladiator.
Not surprisingly, having been given a decent role in a decent film for the first time in a long time, Reed was excellent. Many acknowledged his performance as one of the finest in the Ridley Scott film and one of the best of his career. Given that he was working with such luminaries as Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix and Richard Harris that was no mean feat in itself. The film was dedicated to his memory.
Though a troubled character who fought a long-running battle with alcoholism, Reed was immensely lovable – one of the last, great Hollywood hell-raisers. That’s why fans of the actor still flock to this boozer to pay their respects and take a drink where Olly enjoyed his last.
Typically, during his final drinking session Reed was the life and soul of the party, having bumped into and arm-wrestled many of the British Royal Navy crew from HMS Cumberland. The seamen were in Valletta on shore leave. Olly was having a riotous time – the landlord of The Pub revealed that the last round he bought was eight beers, 12 double rums and half a bottle of whisky.
Heavily intoxicated he collapsed in the pub and died before an ambulance could get him to the nearest hospital. From that day, this city hostelry has been an unofficial shrine for Reed – a place where film-buffs, fans and any curious drinkers can converge to pay their respects.
Toasts for the great man ring out every evening and you can almost imagine him with that cheeky grin on his face, raising his divine glass to acknowledge the tributes.
So if you want to acknowledge the great man during a visit to Valletta then you need to find The Pub, in Archbishop Street or Triq l-Arcisqof. It runs at right angles to the main Republic Street alongside the Palace Armoury and Grandmaster’s Palace (between Merchants Street and the road called St Frederick). Then simply stand and raise a glass “To Olly!”
Phone: +356 7980 7042
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