Monday, December 16, 2013

Remembering Peter O'Toole

Saturday, we lost one of the giants of film and theatre. The Irish born charismatic actor Peter O’Toole died peacefully in a London hospital. He was 81.

I first saw Peter O'Toole in 1962. It was his first major film role. He played T.E. Lawrence in "Lawrence of Arabia." His performance earned him the first of eight Academy Award nominations.

His second and third nominations soon followed with his 1964 portrayal of King Henry II in "Becket" alongside Richard Burton as Becket and his 1968 portrayal of Henry II again opposite Katharine Hepburn in the film "The Lion in Winter." The next year (1969) earned him his fourth nomination for his role as a shy English schoolteacher in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." In 1972 he portrayed the 14th Earl of Gurney in the movie "The Ruling Class," winning his fifth nomination. His sixth nomination came in 1980 in "The Stunt Man." His seventh came two years later in 1982 for an over-the-hill, alcoholic matinee idol in "My Favorite Year." In 2006 he earned his eighth best actor nomination in “Venus,” as a lecherous old actor relegated to playing feebleminded old men.

His eight nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role make him the most-nominated actor never to win an Academy Award. However, in 2003, the Academy honored him with an Honorary Academy Award for his entire body of work and his lifelong contribution to film.

Peter O’Toole was a genus, having a remarkable ability to convey a wide range of emotions both on the big screen and on the stage.

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