RIP Peter O’Toole

Hollywood & acting legend Peter O’Toole has died at the age of 81. The Irish-born, British reared actor (who shares a birthday with me) died on Saturday in a London hospital. O’Toole was nominated for eight Oscars in his distinguished career, and was known as a bit of a hellraiser.  Born to Constance Jane Eliot (née Ferguson), a Scottish nurse, and Patrick Joseph “Spats” O’Toole, an Irish metal plater, football player, his family began a five-year tour of major racecourse towns in Northern England. Upon leaving school O’Toole obtained employment as a trainee journalist and photographer on the Yorkshire Evening Post, until he was called up for national service as a signaller in the Royal Navy. O’Toole began working in the theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearean actor at the Bristol Old Vic and with the English Stage Company, before making his television debut in 1954.

He first appeared on film in 1959 in a minor role in The Day They Robbed the Bank of England. O’Toole’s major break came when he was chosen to play T. E. Lawrence in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), after Marlon Brando proved unavailable and Albert Finney turned down the role.His performance was ranked number one in Premiere magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. The role earned him his first Oscar nomination, though he lost to Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. That established something of a pattern in O’Toole’s career. He would be nominated for eight Oscars, but never won until he was awarded an honorary one in 2003. He received seven further Oscar nominations – for Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968 ), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man(1980), My Favorite Year (1982) and Venus (2006) – and holds the record for the most Academy Award acting nominations without a win. He won four Golden Globes, a BAFTA and an Emmy, and was the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award in 2003. He won the Irish  Film & Television Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for King Priam in Troy (2004).

In 1959, he married Welsh actress Siân Phillips, with whom he had two daughters: actress Kate and Patricia. Peter and Siân were divorced in 1979. O’Toole and his girlfriend, model Karen Brownhad a son, Lorcan Patrick O’Toole (born 17 March 1983), now an actor, when O’Toole was fifty years old.

Peter Seamus O’Toole(2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013)

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