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.