Oscar-nominated actor Peter O’Toole died yesterday, his agent confirmed Sunday. He was 81. Often called the Hamlet of his generation, his death comes only about a year after retiring from a 54-year career in both stage and film highlighted by his turn as T.E. Lawrence in David Lean’s 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia, which won seven Oscars including Best Picture. The beloved actor was nominated for eight Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in his lifetime, including a nod for the Lawrence role that defined his career. In July 2012, he wrote a poignant note to the world, stating, “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. My professional acting life, stage and screen, has brought me public support, emotional fulfillment and material comfort. It has brought me together with fine people, good companions with whom I’ve shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits. However, it’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s stay. So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell.”
Peter Seamus O’Toole was born on August 2, 1932 in Connemara, Ireland in County Galway. After a stint in the Royal Navy, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and debuted on television in 1954 before breaking out in Lawrence of Arabia, earning the first of eight career Oscar nods. After that he was nominated 7 more times, including for Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stunt Man, and My Favorite Year. He was last nominated for an Oscar in 2007 for the movie Venus. O’Toole also provided the voice of Anton Ego (the hard-nosed food reviewer) in Pixar’s Ratatouille. He was the most nominated actor never to receive an Oscar, but the Academy remedied that by presenting him with an honorary Oscar in 2003.
Related: Peter O’Toole Announces Retirement From Acting: “The Heart Has Gone Out Of Me”
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins memorialized O’Toole in a statement via the actor’s agent, Steve Kenis:
In a long list of leading roles on stage and in film, Peter brought an extraordinary standard to bear as an actor. He had a deep interest in literature and a love of Shakespearean Sonnets in particular.
While he was nominated as Best Actor for an Oscar eight times, and received a special Oscar from his peers, for his contribution to film, he was deeply committed to the stage. (more…)