Peter O’Toole dies aged 81

Legendary 'Lawrence Of Arabia' actor passes away after battling illness

Peter O’Toole has passed away aged 81.

The legendary actor, best known for his starring role in the 1962 classic Lawrence Of Arabia, died on Saturday evening (December 14). As the BBC reports, he was being treated at Wellington Hospital in London after battling a long illness.

A host of celebrities from Prime Minister David Cameron to film critic Barry Norman have paid tribute to O’Toole, who was born in 1932. After winning plaudits for his work on the stage, including his acclaimed turn as Hamlet at the Bristol Old Vic in 1955, he became a worldwide star for his performance in Lawrence Of Arabia.

The role garnered him the first of eight Academy Award nominations, with O’Toole also receiving nods for his performances in 1964’s Beckett, The Lion In Winter and Goodbye, Mr Chips (both in 1968), The Ruling Class (1971), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favourite Year (1982) and Venus (2006).

Although he never took home the Best Actor statuette, O’Toole was given an honorary Oscar in 2003 – an accolade that he initially turned down – and quipped in his acceptance speech: “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot.”

O’Toole also won acclaim on the stage for his roles in various Shakespeare productions and, in particular, his performance in the 1989 play Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell. He had suggested that he would retire from acting in July last year, but it was subsequently revealed that he was planning on playing a Roman orator in the forthcoming film Katherine Of Alexandria.

Paying tribute to O’Toole, Cameron said: “My thoughts are with Peter O’Toole’s family and friends. His performance in my favourite film, Lawrence of Arabia, was stunning.” Irish President Michael D Higgins, meanwhile, said that “Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre.”

Film critic Norman described him as a “true movie star”, while actors including Stephen Fry, Eddie Marsan and Simon Pegg all paid tribute on Twitter.

O’Toole’s daughter, Kate, said she and her family were stunned “by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us”.