R.I.P. Peter O’Toole

16 December 2013

Legendary actor dies at 81.

Peter O’Toole, the acclaimed actor, has died aged 81. In a career spanning decades, O’Toole came to be known as one of the most respected and admired actors of his generation, appearing on stage and screen in a string of classic roles.

He appeared in almost a hundred films, but he will forever be defined for his starring role as T.E. Lawrence, the heroic British colonel, in David Lean’s stunning adventure epic Lawrence of Arabia.

Other memorable films included Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye Mr Chips, Stuntman, The Last Emperor, and Venus.

Born in Ireland in 1932, the young O’Toole grew up in northern England, but never forgot his Irish roots.

As a younger man, he was also known as something of a hellraiser, enjoying a  life of fast living and heavy drinking with celebrity friends including Richard Burton.

He experienced illness and misfortune during the 1970s, suffering from stomach cancer and diabetes, and a near-fatal blood disorder. But he recovered and his acting career rarely paused. He had only announced his retirement in July last year.

He gained the unfortunate honour of being the most nominated actor to never win an Oscar, with eight nominations and no wins. The Academy sought to rectify this in 2003, offering an honorary award which he initially turned down.

In a handwritten note, he rejected the statue, claiming he was “still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright” - so requested that “the Academy please defer the honour until I am 80”.

After chastisement from his children, he relented and said in his acceptance speech: “I wish the Academy to know that I am as delighted as I am honored. And I am honored. The magic of movies enraptured me when I was a child.“

“As I totter into antiquity, movie magic enraptures me still.”

As a tribute to Peter O'Toole, Sky Movies Greats will be showing Lawrence of Arabia at 8pm on Tuesday 17th December.