British Actor Peter O’Toole, acclaimed actor who had enjoyed instant success as Lawrence of Arabia and had received eight different nominations for an Academy Award, passed away Saturday according to a statement from his agent Steve Kenis. He was 81.
In the same press release, O’Toole’s daughter Kate said that a memorial service would be planned shortly and conducted in a way that she believed would have pleased her father.
In 1962, O’Toole received his first nomination for Lawrence of Arabia. The actor received his last nomination in 2006 for the movie Venus. Sadly, O’Toole held a record for receiving the most nominations without ever winning. However, he did receive an honorary Academy Award in 2003.
Seamus Peter O’Toole was born August 2, 1932 to Patrick and Constance O’Toole. After a brief teenage interest in the field of journalism and a time of enlistment with the navy, O’Toole got an audition for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and received a scholarship.
Peter O’Toole received international stardom for his role as T.E. Lawrence, the fictional British soldier and astute scholar from World War I who led the Arabs in a revolt against the Turkish people. His portrayal of the mythical hero earned him his first nomination for an Oscar.
In 1964, O’Toole won his second nomination for an Oscar by playing opposite Richard Burton in the movie Becket. Burton played the title character while O’Toole played the role of King Henry II. O’Toole played the British monarch again in 1968 starring with Katherine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter. For this, O’Toole received his third Oscar nomination.
Five more nominations followed for 1968’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips, 1971’s The Ruling Class, 1980’s The Stunt Man, 1982’s My Favorite Year and 2006’s Venus.
Though O’Toole gave up drinking in 1975, he held a reputation for decades as being the unique combination of a non-renegade and a hell-raiser. However, the actor never did give up smoking. He was noted for smoking a particular unfiltered brand of cigarette, Gauloises, in an ebony cigarette holder. He was curiously known for having a fondness for green socks, billowing cots and long scarves gave him an elitist air.
O’Toole announced his retirement from acting in 2012 when he was just a month shy of turning 80. At that time, O’Toole said he wanted to work on the third installment of his personal memoirs.
O’Toole once said that there were few good parts in acting but that he always tried to only take the roles that he felt fell into that category. He said that this attitude did cause some financial pressures because waiting for the right part could take a really long time. Whenever a good part did turn up, O’Toole said he always gave it his very best.
O’Toole took the starring role in 1980’s Macbeth which was panned severely by the critics. However, the brutal treatment by film reviewers brought out large audiences due to curiosity seeking.
O’Toole won notable success on the stage in 1989 in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell. The play was about an old friend of O’Toole’s who was famous for his idleness and prowess with women. Bernard wrote a weekly column, “Low Life” in Spectator magazine whenever he was sober.
O’Toole received an honorary Academy Award in 2003 for My Favorite Year.
Peter O’Toole passes away at 81 and is survived by two daughters, Kate and Pat and one son, Lorcan.
By Rick Hope