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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Farewell to Peter O'Toole

Legendary actor and bon-vivant Peter O'Toole died Sunday, December 15, at the age of 81, reported his agent this weekend.

O'Toole spent his early life traveling with his parents around the British Isles to various racetracks, following his father's work as a horse racing bookmaker.

It wasn't until after service in the Royal Navy that he pursued an acting career by training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, after being rejected from the Abby Theatre program in Dublin for not speaking Irish.

O'Toole gained praise for his work in Shakespearean productions, but became a name in film for his breakout role in Lawrence of Arabia. This film made him an icon of film acting, and became a template for great acting in film.

O'Toole as the title character in
Lawrence of Arabia
With 94 film credits over his 60 year career, O'Toole proved he was not a one character performer in such roles as Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Lion in Winter, and Man of La Mancha, a musical cinematic telling of the story of Don Quixote where he sang alongside James Coco and Sophia Loren.

Another iconic role as Don Quixote
He continued working all the way until 2012, when he announced he was retiring, with notable roles in The Tudors as Pope John Paul III, and as the voice of critic Anton Ego in Ratatouille.

O'Toole adding class to King Ralph
alongside John Goodman

In the film My Favorite Year, O'Toole played a character that echoed some of his real life experiences - an actor prone to drinking, womanizing, and generally having a good time. He was so known for drinking that he almost died in 1976 when a stomach problem was misdiagnosed as being related to his drinking, when in fact it was stomach cancer. After that, however, even a drink would have killed him, and he stayed sober for the remainder of his life.

Art imitating life with Mark Linn-Baker
in My Favorite Year
He completed two autobiographies, and was in the midst of completing a third wherein he covers what he dubbed "the meat" of his film and acting career. He won a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2003 after a record 7 nominations without a win, to which he quipped "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride my foot!" He was offered a knighthood in the 1980s, but turned it down for personal and political reasons.

Peter O'Toole is survived by two daughters and a son. He left a legacy of acting and whit. Of life, O'Toole is quoted as saying "For me, life has either been a wake, or a wedding".

Read more about Peter O'Toole's colorful life in this article from The Daily Mail.

With research from and


This interview with David Letterman gave Mr. O'Toole the chance to write his own epitaph. A fitting way to remember a man who lived his life as he wanted, and to the fullest:

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