Robert Oliver Reed was born on 13 February 1938 in Wimbledon, London, England.
Reed began his acting career as an uncredited extra in films. He played a bouncer in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) for Hammer Films with whom he would become associated; the director was Terence Fisher, who would give him his first significant role in Hammer’s Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960). Reed’s first starring role came when Hammer cast him as the central character in Terence Fisher’s The Curse of the Werewolf (1961).
Reed died from a heart attack during a break from filming Gladiator (2000) in Valletta, Malta, on the afternoon of 2 May 1999, he was 61.