Actor Peter OToole dies after prolonged sickness

Renowned actor Peter O’Toole who hit the international scene with his 1962 film epic Lawrence of Arabia, died over the weekend in a London hospital.

He was 81. His death, which was confirmed by his agent, came after a prolonged, unspecified illness. He is survived by his children Kate O'Toole, Lorcan O'Toole, and Patricia O'Toole.

During his long career, O’Toole received eight Academy Award nominations. However, he didn’t win any. In 2003, he settled for an honorary Oscar, which he accepted with customary relish.

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. My foot,” he said, clutching the Oscar for lifetime achievement.

His first Oscar nomination was for his portrayal of T.E. Lawrence, the British archaeologist, soldier and adventurer who led Arab tribesmen against the Ottoman Turks during World War I. The legend that grew up around Lawrence’s exploits became a perfect creative vehicle for filmmaker David Lean.

O’Toole, who at 6-foot-2 was almost a foot taller than the enigmatic Lawrence, nevertheless seemed to capture perfectly the tortured inner life of a charismatic but conflicted rebel leader.

The film’s sublime cinematography rendered its star as a towering, gaunt Anglo-Saxon outlier who has a chiseled beauty and piercing, azure eyes. O’Toole’s acting helped make the film a classic and placed the actor in a pantheon of beloved, roguish British and Irish actors of the postwar era.

Apart from Lawrence, he received Oscar nominations for his leading roles in Becket (1964), “he Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1968), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980) and My Favorite Year (1982). His final Oscar nomination came in 2006, when he played an aging lothario in Venus.

Perhaps the nadir of his professional career came with a 1980 production of Macbeth that was panned so roundly it drew audiences to see how bad it was. Overwrought and hammy, his performance prompted one critic to write that Mr. O’Toole “delivers every line with a monotonous tenor bark.” Another Shakespearean actor accused Mr. O’Toole of “not trusting the author, in one of his greatest plays.”

O’Toole never fully embraced the Hollywood culture and was identified instead with a flamboyant, theatrical and hard-drinking cohort of stage and screen stars who included Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Peter Finch. O’Toole spoke with exquisite diction and careful delivery — every word seemed to have been savored.

He told The Washington Post in a 1978 interview that “my passion is language. The most satisfying thing for me is having worked with fine writers.” His voice evoked a very cultured British manner, although he was claimed by Ireland as a favorite son, and he identified himself as an Irishman. Peter Seamus O’Toole was born Aug. 2, 1932, although where is not definitively known; he said Peter Seamus O’Toole was born Aug. 2, 1932, although where is not definitively known; he said his birthplace was either Connemara in the western part of Ireland or the northern English city of Leeds, where he grew up. His father, Patrick “Spats” O’Toole, was an Irish bookmaker, and his mother, Constance Jane Eliot, a Scottish nurse.

As a teenager in the 1940s, O’Toole worked as a copy boy for an evening newspaper, but soon left and worked in the civic theater in Leeds before fulfilling his compulsory military service as a Royal Navy signalman.

As a teenager in the 1940s, O’Toole worked as a copy boy for an evening newspaper, but soon left and worked in the civic theater in Leeds before fulfilling his compulsory military service as a Royal Navy signalman.

His marriage to actress Sian Phillips ended in divorce. He is survived by two daughters from that marriage, Pat O’Toole and Kate O’Toole, and by his son, Lorcan O’Toole, by Karen Brown.

He later studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and joined the Old Vic Theatre in Bristol, where he became noticed as an actor of extraordinary presence in spite of his youth and inexperience.

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