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

I think it’s pretty clear that you could not engage in these – for lack of a better word - ”antics”  unless you were regularly fueled by a tremendous amount of alcohol. There is an anecdote from Lionel Bart about visiting Rachel, who was performing in a play and wandered onstage very drunk one night. He reported:

“I knocked on her dressing room door, very nervous.’Come in,’ she said – you could hear how pissed she was. I told her I thought her conduct was disgraceful. “Do you think I’m drunk?’ she said. ‘Darling, I’ve tripped over the empties outside,’ I said. I had a huge bundle of money with me, from the box-office, or somewhere. I shoved it at her. ‘If I were you, Rachel, I’d take this and catch the folk while they’re still outside and offer them their money back – for you were fucking awful.’ Well, home I go, very choked, and get into bed, and about 2:00 in the morning the phone rings. It’s Rex. Blazing angry. ‘I hear you’ve been bloody rude to my wife. What did you say to her, you little homosexual runt?’ Well, I got really angry. ‘Here,’ I shouted at him down the phone, ‘who the hell are you calling little?’ ”

I know the 1960′s were somehow supposed to be a gentler time, but, often, when you read stories about events in that era, you feel that you’ve stumbled into a Jackie Susann novel insofar as everyone is drunk and being really mean to one another.

Rex Harrison may have publicly seemed completely on board with Rachel’s shenanigans, but most sources say that, while he could certainly curse out a table full of people with the best of them, he was somewhat private and . . . dignified? I think dignity is the code word for “he wasn’t outrageously drunk in restaurants or when performing.” Yelling “crab murderers!” at people – I think it wore on him after a while.

rachel roberts rex harrison

Happier times

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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?