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Tributes are paid to a screen legend

Tributes are paid to a screen legend

TRIBUTES have been paid to the screen legend Peter O’Toole who has passed away at the age of 81.

Mr. O’Toole had enjoyed a long career in which he enjoyed success on both stage and screen.

Born in County Galway, he was brought up in England where his father, a bookmaker, had settled. The young O’Toole had first wanted to be a journalist but was drawn into acting by his love of the theatre. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts where his contemporaries included Richard Harris, Alan Bates and Albert Finney.

After several years at the Bristol Old Vic, he began to win small parts in several television and film productions in the early 1960s before being cast in the role which was to win him international fame — playing the British military hero T.E. Lawrence in David Lean’s Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), see below.

His stunning performance in the movie won him a best-actor Oscar nomination, but he missed out on the award. In the years that followed he was to be nominated on six more occasions for an Academy Award, but was never successful. The nominations had followed his performances in Becket (1964), The Lion In Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980) and My Favorite Year (1982), see below.

His failure to win an Oscar baffled his fans across the world. His disappointment was to be partly assuaged when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to give him an honorary Oscar in 2003. But it almost did not happen after the actor himself asked the Academy to delay the honour until he was 80, saying: “I am still in the game and might win the bugger outright”.

However, after accepting the award he told the audience: “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, my foot. I have my very own Oscar now to be with me ’til death us do part” (see below).

Despite a brush with serious illness in the 1970s he battled back to fitness to continue his career, although many of the roles he was offered failed to provide the depth of those he had played in earlier years. 

He did find time to return to the stage. Among these shows was Jeffery Bernard Is Unwell (see below).

In 1987, he turned down the offer of a Knighthood, apparently for personal and political reasons.

In 2012, Mr. O’Toole announced his retirement from acting. He said at the time: “’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”.

However, he came out of retirement to play Gallus in the film Katherine Of Alexandria which is expected to be released in 2014.

Mr. O’Toole passed away in a hospital in London where had been admitted for treatment for what was described as a long illness. He is survived by daughters Kate and Patricia and son Lorcan.

In a statement Kate O’Toole said the family had been “completely overwhelmed” by the outpouring of love and affection for her father.

She added: “In due course there will be a memorial filled with song and good cheer, as he would have wished.”

The many tributes to the actor were led by Irish President Michael D. Higgins who said: “Ireland the world has lost one of the giants of film and theatre. In a long list of leading roles on stage and film, Peter brought an extraordinary standard to bear as an actor.”

To see Mr. O’Toole in an excerpt from Lawrence Of Arabia, click here.

To see an excerpt from My Favorite Year, click here.

To see Mr. O’Toole’s acceptance speech on receiving his Honorary Oscar, click here.

To view Mr. O’Toole’s appearance on Letterman, click here.

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