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Peter O'Toole

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Also Known As: Seamus Peter O'Toole Died: December 14, 2013
Born: August 2, 1932 Cause of Death: undisclosed illness
Birth Place: Connemara, Galway, IE Profession: actor, author, sailor, reporter, copy boy, messenger

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of cinema's greatest leading men, actor Peter O'Toole first came to international superstardom at age 30 for his role as British expatriate T.E. Lawrence in David Lean's epic masterpiece, "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), an unforgettable turn that kicked off a film career that spanned five decades and garnered eight Academy Award nominations for Best Actor. He was nothing short of masterful all throughout, delivering career-defining performances in "Becket" (1964), "Lord Jim" (1965) and "The Lion in Winter" (1968). Behind the scenes, of course, O'Toole cultivated a well-deserved reputation as a hard-drinking, two-fisted hell-raiser alongside his equally rough-and-tumble compatriots Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and Richard Burton. Despite the broken bones, trashed hotel rooms and splitting headaches, O'Toole delivered one quality turn after another in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1969) and "The Ruling Class" (1972), though he had a brush with infamy for his participation in the notorious "Caligula" (1979). Following more acclaim for "The Stunt Man" (1980) and "My Favorite Year" (1982), O'Toole receded into the background for supporting roles in "The Last Emperor" (1987), "King Ralph" (1991), and "Joan of Arc"...

One of cinema's greatest leading men, actor Peter O'Toole first came to international superstardom at age 30 for his role as British expatriate T.E. Lawrence in David Lean's epic masterpiece, "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), an unforgettable turn that kicked off a film career that spanned five decades and garnered eight Academy Award nominations for Best Actor. He was nothing short of masterful all throughout, delivering career-defining performances in "Becket" (1964), "Lord Jim" (1965) and "The Lion in Winter" (1968). Behind the scenes, of course, O'Toole cultivated a well-deserved reputation as a hard-drinking, two-fisted hell-raiser alongside his equally rough-and-tumble compatriots Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and Richard Burton. Despite the broken bones, trashed hotel rooms and splitting headaches, O'Toole delivered one quality turn after another in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1969) and "The Ruling Class" (1972), though he had a brush with infamy for his participation in the notorious "Caligula" (1979). Following more acclaim for "The Stunt Man" (1980) and "My Favorite Year" (1982), O'Toole receded into the background for supporting roles in "The Last Emperor" (1987), "King Ralph" (1991), and "Joan of Arc" (CBS, 1999). He went on to play Greek king Priam in "Troy" (2005) before earning his eighth and final Oscar nomination for his leading role in "Venus" (2006). Though he worked regularly, most notably as Pope Paul III on "The Tudors" (Showtime, 2007-2010), the actor lost his vigor to continue performing and announced his retirement in July 2012. Upon his death in December 2013, O'Toole left behind a legacy of extraordinary renown that few of any generation could hope to match.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Dean Spanley (2008)
3.
 Ratatouille (2007)
4.
 Stardust (2007)
5.
 Lassie (2006)
6.
 Venus (2006)
8.
 Troy (2004) King Priam Of Troy
9.
 Bright Young Things (2003) Colonel Blount
10.
 Rock My World (2002) Lord Foxley
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Leeds; family subsequently moved to London
:
First job, wrapping cartons in a warehouse
:
At 14, joined the <i>Yorkshire Evening News</i>; worked first as messenger and copy boy, and then reporter
1949:
Made amateur stage debut with Leeds Civic Theatre at age 17
:
Spent two years with Royal Navy as a seaman and decoder on a submarine
1952:
Appeared with Albert Finney in RADA production of "As You Like It"
1955:
Joined Bristol Old Vic company; first appeared in "The Matchmaker"; stayed three years and performed in 73 roles
1956:
Made London stage debut in "Major Barbara" with the Bristol Old Vic
1959:
Gained recognition for performance as a barrack-room lawyer in the London stage production of "The Long and the Short and the Tall"; part had been written for Finney, but when he suffered from appendicitis during rehearsals, O'Toole took over; it was announced he would repeat the role in the film, but it went to Laurence Harvey instead
1959:
Formed Keep Films with producer Jules Buck
1960:
Made film acting debut in "Kidnapped" (released in USA, 1960)
1960:
Joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company, Stratford-on-Avon
1962:
Rode to fame on the back of a camel, playing the title role in David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia"; picked up first of several Best Actor Academy Award nominations and subsequently referred to Lean as the biggest single influence in his adult life
1963:
Starred in the title role of the National Theatre Company's inaugural production of "Hamlet"
1964:
Delivered first of two Oscar-nominated turns as Henry II in "Becket"
1966:
Reteamed with "Lawrence" co-star Omar Sharif in "Night of the Generals"
1968:
Garnered third Best Actor Academy Award nomination as Henry II in "The Lion in Winter" opposite Katharine Hepburn's Eleanor of Acquitaine
1969:
Displayed his singing ability (or lack of it) opposite Petula Clark in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"; earned fourth Best Actor Oscar nominaton for his sensitive portrayal of the somewhat prissy and martinetish teacher; then-wife Sian Phillips stole all her scenes as the arch Ursula Mossbank
1972:
Starred in two more projects involving music, the hilarious, irreverent black comedy "The Ruling Class" (for which he earned an Oscar nod) and the abysmal adaptation of the popular musical "The Man of La Mancha"
1972:
Took a sabbatical from acting; lived on family property in the west of Ireland
1973:
Rejoined the Bristol Old Vic to play the title role in "Uncle Vanya"
1975:
Reportedly gave up drinking after an operation on his stomach in which part of his intestines were removed
1976:
Starred in the BBC-TV movie "Rogue Male"; cast included Alistair Sim and Harold Pinter
1978:
Savaged for his portrayal of "Macbeth" on the London stage, receiving reviews like "His performance suggests that he is taking some kind of personal revenge on the play" (<i>The Observer</i>); unfazed by the critics, completed the 14 week run, playing to mostly full houses thanks to the bad publicity
1979:
Co-starred with Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren in "Caligula"
1980:
Delivered a mesmerizing performance as the Christ-like director Eli Cross in "The Stunt Man," filmed in 1978 but put on shelf so as not to conflict with that year's "Hooper," starring Burt Reynolds as a stunt man; received sixth Academy Award nomination as Best Actor
1981:
Made American TV debut as the Roman general leading the siege at "Masada"; earned an Emmy nomination for his work in the ABC miniseries
1982:
Picked up seventh Best Actor Oscar nomination as alcoholic film star Alan Swann in "My Favorite Year"
1983:
First time as Henry Higgins in Showtime presentation of "Pygmalion"
1987:
Portrayed Reginald Johnston, tutor to the young Pu Yi in Bernardo Bertolucci's award-winning "The Last Emperor"
1987:
Starred on Broadway as Professor Higgins in "Pygmalion"
1989:
Underlined his reputation as one of the last great British stage actors with his performance in Keith Waterhouse's "Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell"
1990:
Again acted with Omar Sharif in fantasy drama "The Rainbow Thief"
1993:
Wrote first part ("The Child") of his three-part autobiography <i>Loitering With Intent</i>
1995:
Mounted a camel for the first time in 34 years and rode onstage when David Letterman hosted "The Late Show" (CBS) from London
1996:
Reunited with former RADA chums Richard Briers, Ronald Fraser, and Bryan Pringle in the P G Wodehouse story "Heavy Weathers" in "Masterpiece Theatre" (PBS)
1996:
Acted the part of the Emperor of Lilliput in the NBC miniseries "Gulliver's Travels"
1997:
Played Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in "Fairytale: A True Story"
1998:
Starred as Timothy Flyte in the film adaptation of Dean Koontz's "Phantoms"
1999:
Portrayed Bishop Cauchon in the CBS miniseries "Joan of Arc"; received Emmy Award
1999:
Returned to the London stage in revival of "Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell"; production prompted by the 1998 death of Bernard (a sometime columnist and drunken Soho veteran and friend; filmed for British TV
2002:
Guest starred opposite Richard Dreyfuss on the latter's short-lived TV series "The Education of Max Bickford" (CBS)
2002:
Appeared with Joan Plowright and Alicia Silverstone in the straight-to-video "Rock My World"
2002:
Landed leading role as an unscrupulous TV game show host in "The Final Curtain"
2003:
Cast in director Steven Fry's ensemble drama "Bright Young Things"
2003:
Awarded Honorary Oscar for his film work; requested that the Academy defer the award until his 80th birthday because he did not want to be perceived as out of the acting game; Academy proceeded with award, O'Toole agreed to collect
2003:
Co-starred in the television miniseries "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" (CBS); received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
2004:
Cast as Greek king Priam in director Wolfgang Petersen's epic "Troy"
2004:
Co-starred with Stephen Rea and Janet McTeer in the romantic drama "Romeo and Me," a love story set during World War II
2005:
Appeared in a rare television role as the older version of legendary 18th century Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova in the BBC drama serial "Casanova"
2006:
Portrayed a veteran English actor in director Roger Michell's "Venus"; received Golden Globe, SAG and Oscar nominations for Best Actor
2008:
Joined seconds season of the Showtime series "The Tudors" as Pope Paul III
2008:
Co-starred in family drama "Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage"
2012:
Featured alongside Andy Garcia in the war drama "For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada"
2012:
Announced retirement from acting
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

St Anne's Catholic School: -
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art: London , England - 1952 - 1954

Notes

At a party following the premiere of "Lawrence in Arabia" in December 1962, Noel Coward told him, "If you'd been any prettier, it would have been 'Florence of Arabia'."

An athletic six-footer, O'Toole once boxed, played rugby and was an expert swimmer. He remains an avid fly-fisherman and is passionate about cricket, which he has sometimes coached.

"In performance O'Toole's mock-heroic gestures, like the Emperor's New Clothes, seem to reveal rather than conceal a naked insecurity. His remarkable, almost feminine handsomeness of feature makes the disclosure of inadequacy doubly disturbing." --From "The Illustrated Who's Who of the Cinema" (MacMillan Publishing, New York 1983)

"It was funny about the movie ["Lawrence of Arabia"] Between its London premiere and its New York opening, it lost 20 minutes, which had been edited out by the producer, Sam Spiegal, an appalling man. It looked as if a swarm of rodents had nibbled it.

"Almost 30 years later, they dug up the missing 20 minutes, but without sound, so a group of us gathered in a studio to dub the dialogue in a 'restored' version. It was a thrilling moment for David [Lean], who was a master, and this was the chance for him to see his masterpiece as he meant it to be; but it was strange too, with Omar [Sharif] and Alec [Guinness] and I all looking at those young people on the screen and speaking their lines in voices that had changed from baritone to alto.

"They opened the restored version in New York, and, of course, they had all us ancients hobble out on stage and take a bow before the film was shown. I didn't have time to get back to the VIP seats in the rear, so I just took a seat in the front row and began to watch.

"I saw the scene where I'm learning to ride a camel, and suddenly, the movie house, all the people there, and everything that had happened in all the years since we made the movie were erased. I was right back there, on the desert. It was incredible." --Peter O'Toole to Chicago Tribune, November 6, 1997.

About acting in "Caligula" (as the Emperor Tiberius), a bit of soft porn produced by Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione: "Everyone was in it. Johnny Gielgud, Helen Mirren, Malcolm McDowell. Originally it was to be "Gore Vidal's Caligula". Gore realised about the week before the kick-off that something was up. He got very beady and went off in a huff, tapping his little crocodile-skin shoes.

"When I went on the set there were lots of rubber choppers everywhere and enormous blokes walking around on tiptoe covered in chiffon with big pricks on display. Johnny Gielgud came up to me in a muslin gown and said, 'Do you think we're in a blue film?' But we had a lovely, lovely time. I don't think I've given a funnier performance in my life." --O'Toole quoted in Neon, March 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Sian Phillips. Actor. Born in 1934; met while touring in "The Holiday" in 1958; married in December 1959 in Dublin; divorced O'Toole to marry actor Robin Sachs, 16 years her junior, on December 24, 1979; they separated in 1991.
companion:
Karen Brown. Model. Mother of Lorcan O'Toole; lived together c. 1982-88.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Patrick Joseph O'Toole. Bookmaker, card shark. Died in the 1970s; Irish Catholic; referred to as 'Spats' or 'The Captain'.
mother:
Constance Jane O'Toole. Died in the 1970s; from aristocratic Irish Protestant family.
daughter:
Kate O'Toole. Actor. Born in 1960; mother, Sian Phillips; carried on stage by Dame Peggy Ashcroft at the age of three months; acted in John Huston's "The Dead" (1987).
daughter:
Patricia O'Toole. Born in 1963; mother, Sian Phillips.
son:
Lorcan O'Toole. Born in 1983; mother, Karen Brown.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Peter O'Toole" W.H. Allen & Co.
"Peter O'Toole" New English Library
"Loitering With Intent: The Child"
"Loitering With Intent: The Apprentice"
"Private Faces: The Autobiography of Sian Phillips" Hodder & Stoughton
"Public Places: The Autobiography of Sian Phillips" Hodder & Stoughton
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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