Peter Seamus O’Toole 2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013) was a British stage and film actor. Born and raised in Leeds, England, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and began working in the theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearean actor at the Bristol Old Vic and with the English Stage Company. In 1959 he made his West End debut in The Long and the Short and the Tall, and played the title role in Hamlet in the National Theatre’s first production in 1963. Making his film debut in 1959, O’Toole achieved international recognition playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) for which he received his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was nominated for this award another seven times – for playing King Henry II in both Becket (1964) and The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982), and Venus (2006) – and holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations for acting without a win. In 2002, O’Toole was awarded the Academy Honorary Award for his career achievements. He was additionally the recipient of four Golden Globe Awards, one BAFTA Award for Best British Actor and one Primetime Emmy Award. Other performances include What’s New Pussycat (1965), How to Steal a Million (1966), Supergirl (1984), and minor roles in The Last Emperor (1987) and Troy (2004). He also voiced Anton Ego, the restaurant critic in Pixar’s Ratatouille (2007).
As much as l was a fan of fellow hellraiser Harris we saw in the last episode, so too was l a huge fan of the quirkiness and complete and utter individuality of Peter o’Toole. I saw him in two films first before becoming a fan however which were The Day They Robbed the Bank of England 1960 and of course an infamous role of his Lawrence of Arabia 1962. The films that l really loved and did concrete my ‘fanhood’ were What’s New Pussycat 1965 and How to Steal a Million 1966.
I was saddened to hear of his death in 2013, but he had a ‘ good innings’ and l thoroughly enjoyed his career along the way. Below are 13 of my personal favourites of his – so how about you? Fan, not a fan or never heard of him if that is even possible?’
Lawrence of Arabia 1962
Lawrence, a lieutenant in the British Army, is asked by Colonel Brighton to moderately assess Faisal, their ally. Lawrence is impressed with Faisal and seeks his help to plan an attack on the enemy.
Lord Jim 1965
Naval officer Jim is stripped of his responsibilities when he abandons his ship, leaving the passengers to drown. Disheartened and filled with self-loathing, Jim seeks out to redeem his sins.
How to Steal a Million 1966
Charles Bonnet (Hugh Griffith) expresses his passion for art by forging masterpieces — and selling them at a hefty profit. The trouble starts when his reproduction of a prized sculpture winds up in a famous Paris museum. If experts determine that it is inauthentic, Bonnet’s reputation will be tarnished. That’s why his fetching daughter, Nicole (Audrey Hepburn), hires cat burglar Simon Dermott (Peter O’Toole) to steal the sculpture back before it’s too late.
The Night of the Generals 1967
German intelligence officer Major Grau investigates a prostitute’s killing in Warsaw during World War II. Proof makes him suspect three major Nazi generals, two of whom plot to kill Adolf Hitler.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips 1969
Arthur, a shy teacher, visits a music hall during his vacation. He meets Katherine, an exuberant singer and instantly fall in love with her. Will they unite despite their personality differences?
Murphy’s War 1971
An Irish seaman vows to settle the score with a U-boat that sank his ship off the Venezuelan coast. The sole survivor after the German sub has strafed the sea with machine-gun fire, he takes refuge in a mission and then discovers that the U-boat is still in hiding up river.
The Ruling Class 1972
When a paranoid schizophrenic inherits a fortune from his nobleman father, his relatives conspire to trick him and seize power.
The Stunt Man 1980
A young fugitive crashes into a movie set, accidentally leading to the stunt man’s death. But the movie’s director offers to help him on the condition that he takes the position of the stunt double.
Pygmalion is a 1983 American made-for-Showtime comedy film starring and produced by Margot Kidder as Eliza Doolittle and Peter O’Toole as Professor Henry Higgins.
Club Paradise 1986
Jack Moniker (Robin Williams) is a retired firefighter who teams up with reggae singer Ernest Reed (Jimmy Cliff) to open a tropical island resort. In addition to local eccentrics such as British layabout Anthony Cloyden Hayes (Peter O’Toole), Jack and Ernest are joined by tourists eager to stay at their resort, including the goofy, party-seeking duo of Barry (Eugene Levy) and Barry (Rick Moranis). Unfortunately, whiny customers and greedy land developers threaten to spoil the fun.
The Last Emperor 1987
Aisin Gioro Puyi, the last emperor of China, has a sheltered upbringing till his world gets turned upside down by the Chinese revolution, a subsequent exile and an inconspicuous end.
A respected but ageing actor spends his time between jobs meeting up with his friends Ian and Donald for tea and gossip in the local café. However, his life changes when Ian’s family land him with his grand-niece Jessie, ostensibly as Ian’s carer but in fact to distance her from a family crisis of her making. Maurice falls for her and takes her under his wing but what begins as a mismatched relationship, ends in a warm friendship.
Dean Spanley 2008
After attending a talk on reincarnation by a visiting swami (Art Malik), sickly Horatio Fisk (Peter O’Toole), who is still grieving over the death of his eldest son, and his youngest son, Henslowe (Jeremy Northam), meet the charismatic Dean Spanley (Sam Neill) and the businessman Wrather (Bryan Brown). Horatio and Dean become fast friends and meet up frequently for dinner. Dean, though, is no ordinary guest. He claims to be the reincarnation of a dog, which only intrigues Horatio more.
So there we go folks – Peter O’Toole – Fan or Not or did you not even know any of his work?