Conventional wisdom has long held that drinking makes you cool. Proof positive: it turns out that some of the most intelligent, talented and all-around badass celebrities of ye oldene tymes were also some of the drunkest. Here’s a list of some of the most impressive humans who ever got schwasty.
The archetypal man’s man did nothing halfway, and that goes double for his drinking. Hemingway boozed his way through two world wars, moved to Canada and then Paris to escape Prohibition, and taught his twelve-year-old son to drink like a fish. He had whiskey and absinthe for breakfast and drank before, during, and after his frequent hunting expeditions. Hemingway didn’t try to keep his drinking a secret, by any stretch; instead he proclaimed loudly in For Whom the Bell Tolls, “To drink is nothing. It is to be drunk that is important.” Kind of an odd statement from a man whose drink of choice was the mojito.
Arguably the best prime minister Great Britain has ever seen, Churchill was also one of the most legendary tanks of his time. As a young man living in the colonies, he started adding whiskey to dirty drinking water to mask the taste. He retained this habit even upon returning to England, and would sip from a glass of Johnnie Walker and water every morning. A doctor once prescribed him “the use of alcoholic spirits especially at mealtimes,” and he would often consume “two or three Scotches, several glasses of Champagne, at least two brandies, and a highball” by evening. But all that liquor didn’t dull his wit; when accused by a fellow Member of Parliament of being “disgustingly drunk” he retorted by calling her disgustingly ugly, continuing, "But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly." Zing!
Mega-heartthrob of stage and screen and grandfather of rom-com princess Drew, John Barrymore has some drunk stories that would put Lindsay Lohan to shame. Touring with his theater company during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, Barrymore confined himself to his hotel room with and drank for the duration of the ordeal, which lasted four days. His drinking habits were so well known that audiences would come to his lesser plays just to watch him fall down during the show. He’s rumored to have mistaken a potted plant for a urinal during one of his benders, and, another time, to have wandered into the ladies’ room by mistake. A startled woman caught him in the act, exclaiming, “How dare you! This is for ladies!” Barrymore wheeled around midstream, johnson in hand, and bellowed “And so, madam, is this!”
Breaking into the boys’ club of twentieth-century American intelligentsia, Parker proved that what’s good for the gander is good for the Grey Goose. Renowned for her acerbic wit, she was an early contributor to the New Yorker as well as a poet, playwright, screenwriter and short-story writer. Not content to be a mere writer and gadfly, Parker was a vocal activist for the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and the civil rights movement; she even bequeathed her estate to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation. When she wasn’t kicking racist ass, she was usually imbibing, but she was well acquainted with her limits, quipping: “I like to have a martini/Two at the very most/At three I’m under the table/At four I’m under my host.” A characteristically witty summation of what every girl learns in college.