Rex Reed

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Rex Reed
BornRex Taylor Reed
(1938-10-02) October 2, 1938 (age 84)
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
OccupationFilm critic, writer
Alma materLouisiana State University
Years active1967–present

Rex Taylor Reed (born October 2, 1938) is an American film critic, journalist, and media personality. Raised throughout the Southern United States and educated at Louisiana State University, Reed moved to New York City in the early 1960s to begin his career, writing about popular culture, art, and celebrities for a number of newspapers and magazines. He became a public figure in his own right, making regular appearances on television and occasionally acting in films throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Reed has been a longtime writer for The New York Observer, where he authors the "Talk of the Town" column. He is known for his blunt style and contrarian tastes, and some of his writing has garnered criticism for containing factual errors or disparaging remarks about actors.[1]

Early life[edit]

Reed was born on October 2, 1938, in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of Jewell (née Smith) and James M. Reed, an oil company supervisor.[2][3] In an interview with The New York Times, Reed stated: "My mother came from a family of 10 in Oklahoma, her second cousins were the Dalton Gang. And when my grandfather was a little boy, he was rocked by Jesse James on his knee."[1] Due to his father's profession, the family moved throughout the American South during Reed's childhood.[1]

He earned his journalism degree from Louisiana State University in 1960.[4] There, he began writing film and play reviews, not only for the university's newspaper, The Daily Reveille, but also for the Baton Rouge newspaper, The Morning Advocate. He moved to New York City after graduating from LSU, hoping to find success as an actor. Instead, he was hired to work at the publicity department of 20th Century Fox. In 1969, he said his job there was to "write those puffy things about Elvis Presley and—you know—Fabian, and tell everybody how great they were when I wouldn't be caught dead seeing their movies myself. [...] Cleopatra came along and rocked the company financially. We were saving on rubber bands and paying Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to float down the Nile while everybody back at Fox was taking salary cuts, and I was the first one to go—the little guy at the $75 salary, the most dispensable item in the company. I was fired." Later in the decade, he provided many interviews for The New York Times and New York, which at the time was the Sunday magazine of the New York Herald Tribune. In 1966, the year in which the Herald Tribune folded, he was hired as one of the music critics for HiFi/Stereo Review (now Sound & Vision), a position at which he remained until early 1973.[5]


Film and TV appearances[edit]

Reed has acted occasionally, such as in the movie version of Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge (1970). Reed also appeared in the films Superman (1978, as himself), Inchon (1981) and Irreconcilable Differences (1984). He appeared frequently as a judge on the TV game show The Gong Show in the late 1970s. Reed additionally served on the jury at the 21st Berlin International Film Festival in 1971,[6] and guest-voiced as himself on the animated series The Critic.

Rex Reed appears in the 2009 documentary For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism explaining how important film critics were in the 1970s, and complaining about the proliferation of unqualified critical voices on the Internet.[7]


Before his current job as film critic for The New York Observer, Reed was a film critic for Vogue, GQ, The New York Times, and Women's Wear Daily. For thirteen years, he was an arts critic for the New York Daily News, and for five years was the film critic for the New York Post. Reed was not given a ticket to the world premiere of Last Tango in Paris at the 1972 New York Film Festival as the festival considered him a columnist for the New York Daily News, rather than a regular film critic, as well as describing him as "[not] a friend of the festival".[8] He is a member of New York Film Critics Circle and, because his reviews appear on the Internet, a member of New York Film Critics Online. He is the author of eight books, including Do You Sleep in the Nude?, Conversations in the Raw, People Are Crazy Here, and Valentines & Vitriol.

On October 24, 1974, Reed, reviewing Frank Sinatra's performance at Madison Square Garden, called him "a Woolworth rhinestone" and wrote that "his public image is uglier than a first-degree burn, his appearance is sloppier than Porky Pig; his manners are more appalling than a subway sandhog's and his ego bigger than the Sahara (the desert, not the hotel in Las Vegas, although either comparison applies). All of which might be tolerable if he could still sing. But the saddest part of all is the hardest part to face about this once-great idol now living on former glory: the grim truth is that Frank Sinatra has had it. His voice has been manhandled beyond recognition, bringing with its parched croak only a painful memory of burned-out yesterdays."[9] Years later, Reed recalled that Sinatra "was sloppy" and "looked like he'd slept in his clothes. Sinatra was mad at me, but what did he do? He lost 25 pounds!"[10]

In 1986, after Marlee Matlin won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God, Reed wrote that Matlin had won because of a "pity vote", and that a deaf person playing a deaf character was not really acting.[11]

Rex Reed subjected Marisa Tomei (pictured, at the 81st Academy Awards in 2009) to a conspiracy theory regarding her win of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in My Cousin Vinny.

After Marisa Tomei won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1992 for her work in My Cousin Vinny, Reed said publicly that she had not actually won the award, and that presenter Jack Palance had accidentally read the wrong name off the card he was reading.[12] When it was pointed out that the card had only one name on it, Reed changed his theory to say that Palance had read the wrong name off the Teleprompter, and claimed the Academy went along with it because they would have been embarrassed to admit that mistake in front of a huge viewing audience. Reed was publicly rebutted by the accounting firm Price Waterhouse, who said that if a presenter ever announced the wrong winner, a PwC representative would go on stage and state that the wrong result had been announced, before either stating the correct result or giving the information to someone on stage to correct it.[13][14] Roger Ebert said that Reed's conspiracy theories were false and unfair to Tomei and that Reed owed her an apology.[15] When La La Land was incorrectly announced as the 2016 Best Picture winner instead of the actual winner, Moonlight, Price Waterhouse's actions to correct the mistake were exactly what they'd outlined when rebutting Reed's conspiracy theory. Many observers used this occasion to strongly criticize Reed for having been thoroughly exposed as a liar.[citation needed]

In a 2005 review of the South Korean movie Oldboy, Reed wrote, "What else can you expect from a nation weaned on kimchi, a mixture of raw garlic and cabbage buried underground until it rots, dug up from the grave and then served in earthenware pots sold at the Seoul airport as souvenirs?" The Village Voice, which reported that "online forums erupted in protest" at the review, then mocked Reed by imagining him applying similar logic to films from other countries.[16]

Rex Reed was widely criticized for his comments about the weight of Melissa McCarthy (photographed in 2012) in his review of Identity Thief.

In a 2013 review of Identity Thief, Reed made several references to Melissa McCarthy's weight, referring to her as "tractor-sized", "humongous", "obese", and a "hippo".[17][18] Film critic Richard Roeper said, "This just smacks of mean-spirited name-calling in lieu of genuine criticism."[19] The review was referenced at the 85th Academy Awards on February 24, 2013, by the host, Seth MacFarlane, who joked that Reed would review Adele for singing "Skyfall" at the ceremony.[20] In a column for The Huffington Post, Candy Spelling likened Reed's review to bullying.[21] Reed stood by his comments and stated his objection to the use of serious health problems such as obesity as comedy talking points. He dismissed the outrage as being orchestrated for publicity, but praised McCarthy for not getting involved in the matter, calling her "completely classy".[22]

In a 2017 review of The Shape of Water, he referred to people with disabilities as "defective creatures" and Sally Hawkins' mute character as "mentally handicapped".[23]

Factual errors in reviews[edit]

Reed's 2012 review for The Cabin in the Woods[24] contained significant factual inaccuracies in his summary of the film, and exhibited a dismissive attitude towards anyone who disagreed with his negative opinion. L Magazine's Henry Stewart noted: "his review is literally about 50 percent inaccurate—factually, objectively wrong." His professionalism was also called into question when, in addition to the factual inaccuracies, some felt he was needlessly insulting and mean-spirited towards those who enjoyed the film.[25][26]

In 2013, Reed reviewed V/H/S/2, despite walking out of the film within its first 20 minutes.[27][28] As a result, his review was brief and incorrectly summarized Jason Eisener's segment of the horror anthology. Some felt that Reed was unprofessional, with journalist Sam Adams stating that Reed was "making a mockery of a noble profession while intelligent critics scramble for crumbs all around him".[29][30]

In 2017, Reed's review of The Shape of Water incorrectly referred to the film's writer and director Guillermo del Toro as "Benecio del Toro" (presumably based on the name of actor Benicio del Toro), and also wrote that del Toro was from Spain; neither Guillermo nor Benicio del Toro is from Spain.[31][32]

The same year he included the film Get Out on his list of 10 Worst Films of 2017,[33] and later sardonically stated in a CBS Sunday Morning interview, "I didn't care if all the black men are turned into robots." A writer on Sunday Morning's website noted that there were no actual robots in the film.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Reed lives in a two-bedroom apartment at The Dakota apartment building in New York City,[35] which he bought for $30,000 in 1969.[1]

In 2018, Reed stated, "Love is not something that I've been really good at. I think people are intimidated by people with opinions. How do you go start looking for a wife or a boyfriend or a significant other? It's too late. It would be nice, though, to find somebody who's really handy with a wheelchair, because that day is coming".[1]

Shoplifting arrest and clearing[edit]

In February 2000, Reed was arrested for shoplifting after leaving a Tower Records in Manhattan with compact discs by Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee, and Carmen McRae in his jacket pockets. Reed, who had just purchased two other CDs, says he forgot about the other three CDs and his offer to pay for them was refused. The charges were later dropped.[36] According to Reed, several days after the arrest, Peggy Lee sent him her entire catalog of CDs, because "she was so thrilled I wanted one of her CDs enough to put myself through so much hell".[37]


  • Reed, Rex (1968). Do You Sleep In The Nude?. London: Allen. ISBN 0-491-00043-X.
  • Reed, Rex (1969). Conversations In The Raw. New York: World. ISBN 0-491-00043-X.
  • Reed, Rex (1974). People Are Crazy Here. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-440-07365-0.
  • Reed, Rex (1977). Valentines & Vitriol. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-440-09336-8.
  • Reed, Rex (1986). Personal Effects. New York: Jove Books. ISBN 0-441-66220-X.
  • Reed, Rex (1992). Rex Reed's Guide to Movies on TV and Video, 1992-1993. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-36206-9.


Year Title Role Notes
1967 Hurry Sundown Farmer Uncredited
1970 Myra Breckinridge Young Man
1972 The ABC Comedy Hour Episode: Hellzapoppin
1974 The Rehearsal Actor
1978 Superman Himself
1979 An Almost Perfect Affair Himself Uncredited
1981 Inchon Longfellow
1984 Irreconcilable Differences Entertainment Editor
1994-1995 The Critic Himself Voice, 2 episodes


  1. ^ a b c d e Williams, Alex (January 10, 2018). "Rex Reed Bangs a Gong on the Mediocrity of Modern Life". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  2. ^ "Rex Reed Biography (1938-)". October 2, 1938. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  3. ^ "Rex Reed". Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006
  4. ^ "Rex Reed". New York Critics Film Circle.
  6. ^ "Berlinale 1971: Juries". Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  7. ^ "For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (2009) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies.
  8. ^ "No 'Tango' Tix So Reed Raps Fest". Variety. October 11, 1972. p. 7.
  9. ^ "Frankly Speaking, Enough is Enough". New York Daily News. October 24, 1974. p. Leisure, 7.
  10. ^ Goldman, Andrew (March 21, 2022). "Why Rex Reed Thinks Melissa McCarthy Owes Him A Thank You: The Answer on 'The Originals' Podcast". Los Angeles. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  11. ^ Goodison, Donna (May 23, 2019). "Actress Marlee Matlin: Courage Plus Dreams Equals Success". CRN. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  12. ^ PRACHI GUPTA (February 8, 2013). "Rex Reed: A career of offensiveness". Salon.
  13. ^ Young, Josh (March 6, 2002). "Return Tomei". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  14. ^ "FACT CHECK: Was Marisa Tomei Awarded an Oscar by Mistake?". January 17, 2000.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 6, 2008). "The Questions That Will Not Die | Movie Answer Man".
  16. ^ Park, Ed; Lim, Dennis (April 19, 2005). "Rex is Comedy". The Village Voice.
  17. ^ Reed, Rex. "Declined: In Identity Thief, Bateman's Bankable Billing Can't Lift This Flick out of the Red". New York Observer. New York City: Observer Media. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  18. ^ "Critic calls Melissa McCarthy 'tractor-sized', 'hippo' in review of new film". Today. February 7, 2013.
  19. ^ "Melissa McCarthy Identity Thief Review Is "Mean-Spirited," Says Film Critic Richard Roeper". Us Weekly. February 8, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
  20. ^ Grant, Drew (February 25, 2013). "Rex Reed Got a Shout-Out in Last Night's Oscar Telecast". New York Observer. New York City: Observer Media. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  21. ^ Spelling, Candy (February 19, 2013). "15 Minutes of Fame". The Huffington Post. New York City: Huffington Post Media Group.
  22. ^ Seth Abramovitch (February 13, 2013). "Rex Reed Defends Melissa McCarthy Remarks: 'Don't Make Me the Villain'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  23. ^ "Review: Sally Hawkins Sinks in del Toro's 'The Shape of Water' - Obse…". The New York Observer. December 20, 2017. Archived from the original on December 20, 2017.
  24. ^ "The Cabin in the Woods Is a Pixelated Nightmare".
  25. ^ Henry Stewart (April 12, 2012). "How I lost my Respect for Rex Reed". The L Magazine.
  26. ^ FRED BETZNER (July 6, 2012). "Unprofessional Inaccuracies in Rex Reed's Review of Cabin in the Woods". Archived from the original on July 22, 2012.
  27. ^ "Rex Reed 'V/H/S 2' Review: Controversial Critic Slams Movie He Didn't Finish". The Huffington Post. July 10, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  28. ^ Sean O'Neal (July 10, 2013). "Rex Reed reviews movie he only watched for 20 minutes, presumably just before shoving head up ass". The A.V. Club. The Onion.
  29. ^ Steve Barton (July 10, 2013). "Rex Reed, V/H/S/2, and Journalism 101 - Dread Central". Dread Central. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  30. ^ Adams, Sam (July 10, 2013). "Rex Reed Still World's Worst Film Critic". Indiewire. Archived from the original on July 10, 2013.
  31. ^ Vivian Kane (December 20, 2017). "No Really, How Does Film Critic/Human Disaster Rex Reed Still Have a Job?". The Mary Sue.
  32. ^ Sharf, Zack (December 20, 2017). "Rex Reed's Negative 'The Shape of Water' Review Goes Viral After Crediting Benicio del Toro as Director". IndieWire. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  33. ^ "Rex Reed's 10 Best Movies and 10 Worst Movies of 2017". Observer. December 26, 2017.
  34. ^ "Rex Reed: A bold-faced-name life". Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  35. ^ Tribune Media Services via The Buffalo News, June 9, 2006
  36. ^ "Rex Reed blames his arrest on fever of forgetfulness", USA Today, February 17, 2000
  37. ^ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 26, 2000

External links[edit]