Peter O’Toole …. aka Lawrence of Arabia … and many other characters!!


O’Toole, who died Saturday at age 81 after a long bout of illness, was fearsomely handsome, with burning blue eyes and a penchant for hard living which long outlived his decision to give up alcohol. Broadcaster Michael Parkinson told Sky News television it was hard to be too sad about his passing.


Blond, blue-eyed and wearing blazing white robes in Lawrence Of Arabia, Peter O’Toole was handsome enough — many said beautiful enough — to carry off the scene in which director David Lean simultaneously made stars of both his title character and his leading man.

The scene: a wrecked train, blown up by Lawrence and surrounded by his Bedouin followers, one of whom has just smashed a news photographer’s camera. O’Toole’s Lawrence explains that the man thinks the camera will steal his soul. The photographer asks if he can take Lawrence’s picture and tells him to “just walk.”

So he walks, as the men around him chant his name — and then, responding to their cheers, he leaps atop the train wreck, striding down its length as the wind whips his robes. Silhouetted in the sun, he might as well be a god.

Peter O’Toole died Saturday. He was 81.


The part of T.E. Lawrence — which at one point could have been Marlon Brando’s for the asking — earned O’Toole his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Within a few years he had two more nominations — both, oddly enough, for playing King Henry II, who battled Katharine Hepburn in Lion in Winter, and who thought he could outsmart Richard Burton in Becket.

O’Toole was always larger than life, whether playing dreamers and mad romantics on stage, where his classical training made him a matinee idol; or in public, where his drinking and carousing were legendary; or on screen, where he earned another Oscar nomination playing a hard-drinking matinee idol in My Favorite Year — one who liked to make an entrance, even if it meant swinging into a window from a building’s roof, as he remembers doing in one of his films.

When his handler cautions that that was a movie and this is real life, he pauses for a moment, then asks: “What is the difference?”


That may have seemed a reasonable question to O’Toole, whose off-screen drinking buddies included many of the great actors of his generation: Burton, Trevor Howard and Richard Harris. He outlasted them, despite a medical history that had people counting him out in his 40s.

He once told an interviewer that his only exercise was “walking behind the coffins of my friends who took exercise.” But he persevered. In the movie Venus, at age 75, he was charismatic as ever, playing a lusty old actor who realizes there are loose ends in his life he should tie up.

Saying goodbye to his ex-wife (played by Vanessa Redgrave), he notes with a laugh, “We won’t live forever.”


And after more or less clinching another Oscar nomination with that line, he did what he could to disprove it by making every remaining moment count. Twelve roles in the last seven years of his life — from animated food critic in Ratatouille, to Pope in The Tudors — exuberant every one.

Peter James O’Toole (2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013) was an Irish actor. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and 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 film debut in 1959.

He achieved stardom playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) for which he received his first Academy Award nomination. 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.

Peter O’Toole
Peter O'Toole -- LOA trailer.jpg

Publicity photo for Lawrence of Arabia
Born Peter Seamus O’Toole
(1932-08-02)2 August 1932
place of birth disputed, see Early life for details
Died 14 December 2013(2013-12-14) (aged 81)
London, England
Nationality Irish
Citizenship Ireland, United Kingdom
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor
Years active 1954–2012
Spouse(s) Siân Phillips (1959–1979)
Children 3; including Kate O’Toole
Academy Awards
Academy Honorary Award
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Supporting Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
1999 Joan of Arc
Golden Globe Awards
Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1964 Becket
1968 The Lion in Winter
Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1969 Goodbye, Mr. Chips
BAFTA Awards
Best Actor in a Leading Role
1962 Lawrence of Arabia

Actor Peter O’Toole, who shot to international fame in the film classic “Lawrence of Arabia”, has died aged 81 in London after a long illness, peacefully in London hospital on Saturday.  

O’Toole lost his faith as a teenager, although he always expressed positive sentiments regarding the life of Jesus Christ, and in particular the Sermon on the Mount. In a 2007 interview with The New York Times O’Toole said he prefers “an education and reading and facts” to faith. He added, ” No one can take Jesus away from me…there’s no doubt there was a historical figure of tremendous importance, with enormous notions. Such as peace.” Earlier in the interview, he announced, “I am a retired Christian.”

In 1972, O’Toole played a delusional character who believed he was Jesus in the film “The Ruling Class.” During the film, O’Toole’s character says, “When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself.”, according to Examiner.

The actor’s piercing blue eyes, tousled brown hair and 6-foot-3-inch (1.9 meter) frame made him an instant hit with women when he began his stage career in 1954. O’Toole’s first major film success came in the title role of T.E. Lawrence in “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962.


His role in the iconic film earned him the first of eight Academy Award nominations. Indeed, O’Toole was nominated for an Academy Award eight times, however he never won, which is a record for those nominated.

(Photo : AP)Peter O'Toole received an honorary Oscar in 2003.
(Photo : AP)Peter O’Toole received an honorary Oscar in 2003.

He was awarded an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement during the 75th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, March 23, 2003.

Daughter Kate O’Toole thanked the public for what she described as an outpouring of love for the late actor.


On fame after Lawrence of Arabia
“I woke up one morning to find I was famous. Bought a white Rolls-Royce and drove down Sunset Boulevard wearing dark specs and a white suit, waving like the Queen Mum. Nobody took any f—ing notice, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”

On drinking
I did quite enjoy the days when one went for a beer at one’s local in Paris and woke up in Corsica.”

“It was around 1985 before I heard the news of President Kennedy’s assassination.”

On drinking with Richards Burton and Harris
“I do not regret one drop. We were young people who’d been children throughout the war – well, you can imagine what it felt like in 1945 to be free – not to be bombed, not to be rationed, not to be restricted. There was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. We weren’t solitary, boring drinkers, sipping vodka alone in a room. No, no, no: we went out on the town, baby, and we did our drinking in public!”

On being uncommon
“I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony.” (Note written in his boyhood journals). 


On theatre
“I don’t approve of theatre directors… On came a load of children from the university who’d had an enthusiasm for amateur drama. [laughs haughtily] Like these clowns, Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn and all this bunch of clowns. I won’t speak to them. When you’ve earned your living on the stage for 10, 15 years, then come and tell me how to earn mine. Go on the stage and earn your living for a dozen years, and get some humility.”

“Acting is just being a man. Being human. Not forcing it. Some make it their entire life. Big mistake. Laurence Olivier fell into that category. He was a tiny, strange, vain f—er.”

“If you go to the West End theatres now, it’s a graveyard. Lots of musicals, they’re cheerful. But the plays? God almighty.”


On Ireland

“Nicest asses in the world, Ireland. Irish-women still are carrying water on their heads and carrying their husbands home from pubs, and such things are the greatest posture builders in the world.”

On Spain
“Pontefract, with scorpions.”


On ambience
“I can’t stand light. I hate weather. My idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another.”

On death
“The common denominator of all my friends is that they’re dead. There was a time when I felt like a perpendicular cuckoo clock, popping up and down in pulpits saying: ‘Fear no more the heat o’ the sun.’ They were dying like flies.” 

On death (Kenneth Tynan interviewing O’Toole in Playboy in 1964)
Tynan: Are you afraid of dying? O’Toole: Petrified.
Tynan: Why? O’Toole: Because there’s no future in it.
Tynan: When did you last think you were about to die? O’Toole: About four o’clock this morning.


On women
“I’ve never looked for women. When I was a teenager, perhaps. But they are looking for us, and we [men] must learn that very quickly. They decide. We just turn up. Never mind the superficialities – tall and handsome and all that. Just turn up.”

On Troy and its director, Wolfgang Petersen
“That kraut, what a clown he was… When it was all over, I watched 15 minutes of the finished film and then walked out.”


On beauty
“People have always talked about beauty. It has been an obsession throughout millennia but it doesn’t mean a bloody thing. When I was a young boy I was pretty and I was called Bubbles. One soon learned to handle oneself under those circumstances or else go down. I put a cigarette in my mouth to make myself look a bit more butch. But it all means nothing. As I have said to many a drama teacher over the years, pity the pretty. Into a room walks a beautiful girl or into a room walks a beautiful man and everyone thinks they’ve got it made. Well they ain’t. In fact it can be much more difficult.”

On the era of the Angry Young Man:
“The revivals of Look Back in Anger have been execrated. Well, it was never very good. I went to see it – dreary little production, drearily done. It’s all PR. A PR put out a flyer and referred to John Osborne as an ‘angry young man’. It was one of those phrases, everybody used it – I was called an ‘angry young actor’. God! I had a rebellious nature, of course. But I wasn’t particularly angry about anything. I was quite cheerful!”


On his own background (he grew up in Leeds, and his father was an Irish bookie):
“I’m not working-class. I come from the criminal classes.”

On sport
“I became a professional cricket teacher about 20 years ago. I had a son born to me when I was 50, and I thought, he needs someone to bowl to him.”

On the last time he played cricket, at his favorite grounds in Devon: 

“The grounds are behind a church – they’re beautiful – and there’s a river. The thing to do at Lustleigh is to strike the ball into the river. I knew I was finished – I could hardly see the bloody ball – but I went bang! And the ball went boom, into the river, in my favourite little cricket field, and I said: Pedro, get out now. And I did.”


Source/related articles:






Lawrence Of Arabia – Official® Trailer


Published on Aug 5, 2013

Release Date: 10 December 1962

Director David Lean follows the heroic true-life odyssey of T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) in this dramatic portrait of the famed British officer’s journey to the Middle East. Assigned to Arabia during World War I, Lawrence courageously unites the warring Arab factions into a strong guerrilla front and leads them to brilliant victories in treacherous desert battlefields where they eventually defeat the ruling Turkish Empire.

Cast: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Wolfit

Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: David Lean
Screenwriter: Robert Bolt, Michael Wilson
Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama

We ALL are ONE!!




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