Actor Peter O’Toole, who achieved stardom in the Oscar-winning epic Lawrence Of Arabia, has died at the age of 81, his agent has confirmed.
The acclaimed leading man, who received an honorary Academy Award in 2003 for his body of work, died yesterday at the Wellington hospital in London after a long illness, his agent Steve Kenis said.
“He was one of a kind in the very best sense and a giant in his field,” Mr Kenis said.
O'Toole's daughter, actress Kate O'Toole, said: "His family are very appreciative and completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us, during this unhappy time. Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts,''
“In due course there will be a memorial filled with song and good cheer, as he would have wished.
“We will be happy to speak to you all then but in the meantime if you could give Peter O’Toole the respect he deserves and allow us to grieve privately we’d appreciate it.
“Thank you all again for your beautiful tributes – keep them coming.”
O’Toole retired from showbusiness last year, saying in a statement that it was time to ”chuck in the sponge”.
An eight-time Academy Award nominee who never won Hollywood’s top acting honour, O’Toole shot to screen stardom 50 years ago in the title role of Lawrence Of Arabia, which earned seven Oscars, including best picture and director for David Lean.
O’Toole’s grand performance as British adventurer T.E. Lawrence brought him his first best-actor nomination but set him on an unenviable path of Oscar futility.
His eight losses without a win is a record among actors.
The honours stacked up quickly as O’Toole received Oscar nominations for 1964’s Becket, 1968’s The Lion In Winter, 1969’s Goodbye, Mr Chips, 1972’s The Ruling Class, 1980’s The Stunt Man and 1982’s My Favourite Year.
In the latter film, O’Toole played a dissolute actor preoccupied with drink and debauchery, seemingly a tailor-made role for a star known in his early years for epic carousing with such fellow party animals as Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Peter Finch.
O’Toole went into acting after serving in the Royal Navy, studying at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
His early stage successes included the lead in Hamlet and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.
No living person is sure whether his birthplace was Connemara, Dublin, or Leeds.