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Peter O'Toole

Peter O'Toole (born August 2, 1932) is a famous Irish film actor.

Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole

He was born Peter Seamus O'Toole in County Galway, Ireland, and was raised in Leeds, England. He left school at an early age and became a journalist, working at the Yorkshire Evening News. But after National Service he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (1952-54) on a scholarship. He worked in theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearean actor at the Bristol Old Vic and with the English Stage Company, before making his television debut in 1954 and a very minor film debut in 1959. In 1958 he married actress Siān Phillips; they divorced in 1979.

O'Toole's major break came when he was chosen to play Lawrence in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962), after Albert Finney turned down the role. His performance introduced him to US audiences and earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. His subsequent film choices have ranged from superb to mediocre (with a couple of clinkers tossed in for good measure).

Severe illness related to his heavy drinking almost ended his life in the late 1970s, but he recovered and returned to work, although he found it harder to get in films, resulting in more work for television and occasional stage roles.

After Lawrence of Arabia, O'Toole received six more nominations for the Best Actor Oscar but never won the award. In 2003, the Academy bestowed upon him the Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime achievements in film. O'Toole initially balked about accepting and wrote the academy a letter saying he was "still in the game" and would like more time to "win the lovely bugger outright." In the end, O'Toole relented and agreed to appear at the ceremony and pick up his Oscar.

O'Toole also has the distinction of being the only actor ever nominated for Academy Awards for playing the same character in two different films; he played King Henry II in both 1964's Becket and 1968's The Lion in Winter. He is tied with Becket costar Richard Burton for most nominations for an acting Oscar (7) without winning.

In 1984, he was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award as "Worst Actor" for his role in the abysmal Supergirl.

Selected Filmography

With Petula Clark in Goodbye, Mr. Chips, his first and only attempt at a musical
With Petula Clark in Goodbye, Mr. Chips, his first and only attempt at a musical

Stage Appearances

  • Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell (1989)

External link

Site focusing specifically on Peter O'Toole:

  • The Unofficial Peter O'Toole Pages - devoted to the life and work of the noted Irish actor.

Last updated: 02-20-2005 20:11:59