Was Churchill an Alcoholic?

Was Churchill an Alcoholic?

The ques­tion fre­quent­ly aris­es, was Churchill an alco­holic? Cer­tain­ly his own accounts of his prowess (“I have tak­en more out of alco­hol than alco­hol has tak­en out of me”), and his fre­quent depic­tion as a red-nosed drunk by ene­mies from Goebbels to mod­ern­day scoffers, lends one to believe that he drank heavily.

The truth, as Richard Geshke puts it in a com­mu­ni­ca­tion on ChurchillChat, is that he was “a con­stant sip­per: “I nev­er heard any sto­ries of a drunk Churchill.”

There is just one val­i­dat­ed sto­ry: Dan­ny Man­der, one of WSC’s body­guards at Teheran, recalls escort­ing a well-lubri­cat­ed Churchill and Antho­ny Eden home after a lengthy series of toasts with the Rus­sians. But Man­der is care­ful to note they were not “falling down drunk,” just singing songs and feel­ing good.

Churchill’s famous 1946 retort to Bessie Brad­dock MP, “…and you are very ugly, but tomor­row I shall be sober and you shall still be very ugly”), adapt­ed from a W.C. Fields film, was fired off because, accord­ing to an eye­wit­ness, he was not drunk (leav­ing the House of Com­mons after a late night ses­sion), just tired and wob­bly. (In the 1934 film It’s a Gift, the W. C. Fields char­ac­ter, when told he is drunk, responds: “Yeah, and you’re crazy. But I’ll be sober tomor­row and you’ll be crazy the rest of your life.”)

Two amus­ing quips on the sub­ject are Prof. War­ren Kimball’s: “Churchill was not an alcoholic—no alco­holic could drink that much”; and Sir John Colville’s obser­va­tion that what he start­ed sip­ping ear­ly in the day was a trace of whisky dilut­ed by a full glass of water: “whisky-flavoured mouthwash.”

2 thoughts on “Was Churchill an Alcoholic?

  1. that said he nev­er­the­less drank more than the aver­age it seems . . did eise how­er drank too by the way

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