Peter O’Toole, the consummate English actor, whose charm and effortless grace endeared him to generations of film audiences, has died in a hospital in London after a long battle with stomach cancer, reports ABC News. He was 81
The actor may best be remembered for his role in Lawrence of Arabia, playing the titular character with a tongue in cheek confidence which netted O’Toole superstardom. He followed that up with with other key characters in The Lion in Winter; the swashbuckling alcoholic charismatic actor who becomes a deer in the headlights as he’s forced to accept performing on 1950’s live television in My Favorite Year; and especially The Stunt Man, in which if Robert De Niro hadn’t turned in an equally dazzling performance that same year in Raging Bull (which won him the Oscar), O’Toole would have netted Academy Gold. In fact, O’Toole never won a Best Actor Oscar Award proper, after being nominated for the Tinseltown prize eight times. In 2003, however, the honorary Oscar was bestowed upon the charismatic actor.
In his personal life, O’Toole had a randy swagger about him, a flamboyance which reached to the galaxies and beyond. He lived the life of decadence that many of his English contemporaries did as well: Richard Burton, Oliver Reed, and others of that alcohol-soaked and sex-fueled ilk. O’Toole had outlived all of them for the most part, and always wore the reputation of a “hellraiser,” even though he had given up drinking and carousing decades ago, following surgery in 1975. The work itself never suffered and he went from a young lion who trailblazed his way though plays like Hamlet on British stages to an elder statesman, a veteran of Hollywood, and one of its most legendary players. O’Toole’s death ends an era in the cinematic world, not only for the artistic void which will now surface, but for the decadent, reckless kind of lifestyle as well. Only a scant few like Peter O’Toole, could even elevate controlled, gentlemanly, and decidedly English recklessness to the highest apex.
RIP Peter O’Toole
August 2, 1932 – December 14, 2013