You left out Humphrey Bogart and Jason Robards (Both married to the same actress by the way; not at the same time of course.)
At the risk of calling a kettle less than white; your own 'ahem' artists, don't stand up to scrutiny on the alcohol front either; Hmmm now. let's see.......... Burton, Behan, Thomas and that's just at the Western edge of the Sceptered Isle.
Oh yes, the list could have been a whole lot longer.
A lot of British and European artists have had problems with alcohol- I wouldn't deny that- but there's a whole masculity package (booze, violence, sex, chest-beating and muscle-flexing) that's peculiarly American.
Though it does intersect with an Irish package that has similar features.
I think the difference could be that the Irish substitute religion for the chest-beating and muscle-flexing.
There was also a pan-national culture of artistic booziness that flourished in the 1950s which had a lot to do (I reckon) with the post-World War II blues.
And the women a cross between Mata Hari and the virgin mother.
"Mata Hari and the virgin mother"- I'll have to think about that...
It's easy. We have to look like a porn star and behave like a saint.
I would agree with what you say, specially when you mention Jim Morrison in your list.
In every other society the artist is valued for being an artist and isn't also expected to out-drink, out-fight, out-fuck every man in the bar. Only in America do artists feel compelled to turn themselves into dicks.
Well, let me see. There's Peter O'Toole, there's Richard Burton, there's Laurence Olivier. All wonderful actors. Peter O'Toole admits he has been in rehab, Richard Burton was a drunk and Laurence Olivier had strange sexual preferences.
You are the master of sweeping statements, aren't you?
The sweeping statements are quite deliberate. I'm hoping to stir debate.
There was a whole generation of post-war British and Irish actors- Burton, Reed, O'Toole, Harris- who embraced the bar-fly lifestyle and underperformed in consequence. It's as if they were setting out to negate their talent. I attribute this to guilt at having "missed out" on WWII.
But they're a blip. British actors traditionally like a drink, but that's the only generation that set out en masse down the road to self-destruction.
Olivier is a mystery. He seems to have covered his tracks very well. Was he straight? Was he gay? Was he bisexual? Nobody seems to know for sure. I suspect that- like many actors, like the better-documented Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers- he didn't know who he was when he wasn't putting on a funny voice and wearing a putty nose.
This was true of most actors - regardless of country of origin. The more effective they are, the less identity they actually have. I use the past tense of the verb as there are many modern day actors - even, heaven forfend, Americans who are not especially heavy drinkers but who manage to perform their craft rather successfully - George Clooney comes to mind.
Today, the wretched excess brigade seems to be over run by music players with England's very own Pete Doherty at the bottom of the heap.
I've been wondering about something like this. On the art forums I read, when ever someone brings up the topic of fighting everyone seems to jump in with how much they love to fight, and how they only go out on the town for this purpose. It'll then go into a lot bragging about how many arms, legs, and jaws they've broken. I not sure how much of it I believe, but you would think it's like Fight Club or something. The biggest tough guys of the bunch always seem to end up being Canadian.
Also a little alarming.
I remember reading how on the set of the Alamo Wayne would shout at his actors "Walk gracefully damnit! Like me!"
I'm sure that masculine guilt plays a large part in the massive alcoholism of American artists, but on the other hand, artists have a propensity for substance abuse and being difficult. John Ford and John Huston both had nothing to be ashamed of during their WWII service--they both just liked booze. Nor am I so sure that Wayne was a macho man because America insisted on it--it did, but I think he quite liked being one. Had he really wanted to, he could have taken different roles (Henry Fonda helped invert his screen image by playing cold, psychopathic villains), but he had a pretty square, neo-chivalric conception of the sort of roles he wanted to play and of the Western--he criticized Clint Eastwood and Sam Peckinpah for not meeting his genre standards, and The Shootist might have been a much better film if the Wayne hadn't insisted on reworking the original part to match the persona he spent his lifetime building up.
P.S. Henry Fonda starred in My Darline Clementine, not the Duke. Perhaps you meant She Wore a Yellow Ribbon?
Ach- *slaps wrist*- of course I meant She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.
Wayne was offered a role in Blazing Saddles. He told Mel Brooks (in so many words) "I can't be in your movie becasuse it's too dirty, but I'll be first in line to see it."
I'va always wished he could have worked with Peckinpah. William Holden was magnificent in The Wild Bunch, but just imagine if that had been Wayne playing Pike Bishop!
And what about the long list of British rock stars?
Surely you could wirte an entire book about them with Keith Richards and Keith Moon having a chapter all their own.
Was their a point to this other than "Americans are assholes while we are so much better"?