Shelved Dolls: Rachel Roberts – About That Time She Masturbated A Dog

Pamela Mason recalled a fundraising dinner for George Cukor, where:

“Rachel sashays into the big room where the dinner is being held and there’s a U-shaped top table with George Cukor right in the middle. And of course, as Rachel’s in her ridiculously short miniskirt – for she hadn’t changed – she catches everyone’s eye, and as she wends her way unsteadily through the tables, everyone’s eyebrows are going up, except George’s – he hasn’t seen her. So to catch his attention she goes ‘Woof! Woof!’ Just like a dog. And when George looks up in surprise, she says, ‘We’ve come to tell you we can’t come to dinner,’ which no doubt seems a bit off, since she’s there. ‘But before I go,’ she says, ‘I just want to say something to the company. I want to say one big Woof.’ And turns to everyone and goes ‘WOOF!’ ”

Which, honestly, does not strike me as that bizarre. The first thought I had when I heard this story was, “Well, if Paz de la Huerta did that, it wouldn’t be THAT weird.” And then I considered, “Yes, but you are now thinking in terms of Paz de la Huerta type people.” And apparently Rachel’s – doggedness? – did manifest itself in other ways, like the time she crawled under a table and began worrying at Robert Mitchum’s pant leg. When asked about this stunt, she replied, “I was pretending to be a Welsh Corgi.”

And it wasn’t just dogs! Nancy Holmes, a friend of the couple, claimed:

“We used to put to sea in the motor vessel that Rex kept at Portofino – a ‘Riva’ class ChrisCraft. We’d fish from it, using tiny crabs as bait. Rachel didn’t fish. She sat on deck in the sun, drinking white wine. Suddenly, we heard her growl, ‘fish murderers’ followed by ‘crab murderers.’ When I heard that spoiling-for-a fight sound coming from her, I knew it was time to get the hell out of the way.”

At another time, at 21 Club, someone ordered soft shell crabs and she shouted, “Fish murderers, crab murderers!” In 21 Club. Have you been to 21? It is an astonishing restaurant in New York where you feel an immediate need to begin whispering, in spite of the fact that it is decorated like a third tier Applebee’s. Seemingly the crab killer thing was a persistent refrain. Anyhow, after that outburst she ordered two raw eggs and ate them at the table, dribbling their yolks down her front. As protest? Sure.


This is how you protest. By killing this talking egg.

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    • mel

      I heard she took barbiturates and drank something caustic and it propelled her through a glass divider. Pretty sad way to go.

      • Jennifer Wright

        She actually took pills, and, because she was worried about throwing them up, then ate an English muffin. But yes, it was very sad.

    • Candace

      “Rex was known as “Sexy Rexy” as a result of his many love affairs, marriages and divorces”
      Wait, really? I’ve always thought he was called that because he was dreamy. Am I the only one?

      • Jennifer Wright

        I remember as a little girl thinking that I wanted a man just like Henry Higgins, and it is a relief to know I am not the only one who felt that.

    • Fabel

      After that headline, I’m glad to see you put the dog masturbation story on page 1. I thought I was going to have to wait!

    • randinewton


    • Sabrina

      That picture.

    • sbsn

      Not your best article. I stopped reading half way through.

      • Naomi Kashinsky

        Wow. How incredibly constructive.

    • robinrd

      Actually, Rachel Roberts has been friends, especially with Sybil, since 1951 when she, Sybil, and Richard were acting in a Shakespeare Festival in Stratford-opon-Avon. Rachel also appeared with Richard in two BBC plays before Cleopatra.

    • JJJ

      Jennifer, Though her life certainly seems a tragedy, her own making, of course… I fail to see any connection between her and the other “Shelved Dolls” you have chosen to write about. Other women have contributed somehow to society, historically…somehow, perhaps just being an infamous iconic, cult like figure….however, I cannot seem to find one ounce how this tragic washed up “actress” contributed to anything? Her journals seem the “feel sorry for myself” sort. Other than being Rex Harrison’s eccentric, alcoholic ex-wife (and a brief menial actress)…is there something that I missed? The juicer story would be that of Rex Harrison, as he was really the star, and makes one wonder what frame of mind he was really in when he chose to marry such a pathetic woman. She really wasn’t even beautiful, compared even to Burton’s ex Sybil.

      Sad that so many of the celebrity men of that era chose to marry such narcissistic selfish women…..makes one wonder about the men themselves.

      I have enjoyed reading your articles and hope there are more in the works, thank you for sharing!

    • PSG

      Reading the accounts of her behavior, are we -sure- there wasn’t an ample supply of drugs being ingested along with the alcohol?

    • Hunkel

      That’s Elizabeth and Mike Todd. You know that right?