While Jim Morrison’s fans can journey to the Pere Lachaise cemetery in
Paris, and admirers of Keats can visit the house at the bottom of the Spanish
Steps in Rome where the writer died, there can be few shrines to fallen artists
that compare to Ollie’s Last Pub.
This month sees the fifth anniversary of the death in Malta of Oliver Reed,
star of such films as Women in Love, The Three Musketeers, Oliver! and Castaway,
who died aged 61 after a drinking session in The Pub in Valetta’s Archbishop
Street. Admirers of the actor, who always had the words «hellraising» attached
to his name, now arrive from all over the world to pay their respects by sitting
where Ollie sat on his last night on earth.
«He was a good character,» said Lungo Camilleri, a local tiler, as he sat at
the bar this week. «He would drink anything; you name it, Ollie would drink it
except for water. And he would never let anyone pay for a drink. No matter how
many people there were in the pub, Ollie would always insist on paying, even if
the round came to ё200 or ё300.»
The Pub, which has been run by the Cremona family for the past 21 years,
became Reed’s favourite drinking spot when he was in Malta on holidays, and
during the making of his last film, Gladiator. On the night when the great
landlord in the sky called last orders on him, Ollie had supposedly drunk eight
pints of lager, 12 double rums and half a bottle of the Famous Grouse, and
beaten a few young sailors in arm-wrestling contests, before being taken unwell.
«I was with him in the ambulance on the way to hospital,» said Kathleen
Cremona, who runs the pub with her son, Warren. «He was a very generous man, a
very nice person, everyone liked him.»
In honour of Reed, The Pub subtitled itself «Ollie’s Last Pub» and started
to produce mementos for admirers. Now there are candles, mugs, plates, T-shirts
and even bookmarks with a picture of Reed on them and the legend «Ollie’s Last
Above his favourite seat are photos of him in film roles, a poster from The
Trap, newspaper cuttings and messages left by adoring fans who have come to pay
«From Marty Vella to Ollie,» reads one note. «To a great actor and a good
drinker. RIP.» Another note «from the lads off HMS Campbeltown» says: «Dear
Ollie, we all had a drink in your memory.» Sailors from HMS Southampton the
pub is popular with the Royal Navy have also left a union flag with Reed’s
name on it pinned to the ceiling in his memory.
«It has become a shrine, really,» said Mike Bennett, an expatriate
Englishman from Brighton who was having a quiet morning drink.
«It certainly has an atmosphere. A lot of people come here just because of
Of his death, he said: «Well, that’s what you get from trying to drink a
frigate under the table.»
«I liked him because he was a man’s man,» said Jimmy Glarvey, from
Manchester, who was sitting in Ollie’s seat.
Marcia and Alf Hukin, originally from Sheffield, but now from Grantham, had
come to The Pub because they knew it was the site of Reed’s final hurrah. «I
liked every film he was in,» Mr Hukin said. «So we thought we’d look in to pay
Other British artists of different eras have also left their marks on Malta,
albeit in different ways. Anthony Burgess lived there and set his epic novel,
Earthly Powers, partly on the island. A plaque in Valetta notes that Sir Walter
Scott visited in 1831 and described it as «this splendid town quite like a dream
«, although there is little evidence that his admirers make a pilgrimage to the
But then there is no record of Sir Walter ever downing eight pints of lager,
some rum and whisky, winning an arm-wrestling contest with some matelots, and
still insisting on paying for the round.
The Guardian (London), May 22, 2004