Entertainment News

  • 16 December 2013, 14:01

Peter O'Toole: Lawrence Of Arabia Star Dies

Actor Peter O'Toole, who shot to fame in the Oscar-winning epic Lawrence of Arabia, has died, aged 81.

The acclaimed leading man died on Friday at the Wellington hospital in London after along illness, his agent Steve Kenis said.

"He was one of a kind in the very best sense and a giant in his field," Mr Kenis said.

O'Tooleenjoyed a long stage and film career and was nominated for an Oscar eight times. He did not win but received a special Oscar from his peers for his contribution to film.

He was best known for his 1962 role in the epic David Lean film Lawrence Of Arabia.

After O'Toole's first best-actor nomination for British adventurer TE Lawrence followed Oscar nominations for 1964's Becket, 1968's The Lion In Winter, 1969's Goodbye, Mr Chips, 1972's The Ruling Class, 1980's The Stunt Man and 1982's My Favourite Year.

In the latter film, O'Toole played a dissolute actor preoccupied with drink and debauchery, seemingly a tailor-made role for a star known in his early years for epic carousing with such fellow party animals as Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Peter Finch.

O'Toole's last Oscar nomination was for Best Actor in the 2006 movie Venus. He won an honorary Oscar in 2003 for his numerous memorable roles.

He went into acting after serving in the Royal Navy, studying at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

His early stage successes included the lead in Hamlet and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

However, he did win four Golden Globes, a Bafta and an Emmy.

The Irish president Michael D Higgins, a personal friend, paid tribute, saying: "I have heard with great sadness of the passing of Peter O'Toole this weekend. Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre.

"In a long list of leading roles on stage and in film, Peter brought an extraordinary standard to bear as an actor.

"He was unsurpassed for the grace he brought to every performance on and off the stage."

His daughter, Kate O'Toole, said: "His family are very appreciative and completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us, during this unhappy time. Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts."

Asking for time to grieve privately, she said: "In due course there will be a memorial filled with song and good cheer, as he would have wished.

"Thank you all again for your beautiful tributes - keep them coming."

O'Toole announced his retirement from acting in July 2012, saying: "It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. To retire from films and stage.

"The heart for it has gone out of me. It won't come back."

He said his career had brought him "public support, emotional fulfilment and material comfort".

He said: "It has brought me together with fine people, good companions with whom I've shared the inevitable lot of all actors - flops and hits."

O'Toole was married to the actress Sian Phillips for 20 years until 1979. They had two children, Kate and Patricia. He later had a son, Lorcan, by Karen Brown.

Seamus Peter O'Toole was born on August 2, 1932 but his place of birth remains a mystery. No living person is sure whether it was Connemara, Dublin, or Leeds, where he was brought up.

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