Robert Oliver Reed was an English actor known for his burly screen presence. Reed exemplified his real-life macho image in "tough guy" roles.
Reed was born Robert Oliver Reed in Wimbledon, London, to sports journalist Peter Reed and his wife Marcia.Reed attended Ewell Castle School in Surrey.
His films include The Trap, Oliver!, Women in Love, Hannibal Brooks, The Triple Echo, The Devils, The Three Musketeers, Tommy, Castaway, Lion of the Desert and Gladiator.
Oliver Reed appeared uncredited in an early Norman Wisdom film, The Square Peg in 1958, and in another Wisdom comedy, The Bulldog Breed in 1960, where Reed played the leader of a gang of Teddy Boys roughing up Wisdom in a cinema.
Reed got his first notable roles in Hammer Films' Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), Captain Clegg (1962), Pirates of Blood River (1962), and The Curse of the Werewolf (1961). Reed also starred in Paranoiac, and The Damned.
His last major successes were Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) (as the god Vulcan), Treasure Island (1990) , and Peter Chelsom's Funny Bones (1995).
His final role was the elderly slave dealer Proximo in Gladiator, in which he played alongside Richard Harris, an actor whom Reed admired greatly both on and off the screen.
In 1959, Reed wed Kate Byrne. They had one son, Mark, before their divorce in 1969. In 1985, he married Josephine Burge, to whom he was still married at the time of his death. In his last years, Reed lived with Josephine in Churchtown, County Cork, Ireland.
Reed died of a sudden heart attack during a break from filming Gladiator in Valletta, Malta on 2 May 1999. He was 61 years old.