Peter O’Toole has Died. Actor Peter O’Toole died on Saturday December 14, 2013 at the age of 81. What the actor died of has not been released yet. This has been a month of notable people passing away: first Paul Walker, then Nelson Mandela, and now Peter O’Toole. Peter O’Toole’s career spanned 54-years on television, film, and the theater stage. During the span of his career, Peter O’Toole was nominated for eight Academy Awards (Lawrence of Arabia, Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, and Venus) but never took home the Oscar statute. That all changed in 2003, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestowed upon him an honorary award.
The backstory to that honorary Oscar:
After going 0-for-7 with 1982?s My Favorite Year, the nominations stopped (even though O’Toole didn’t), and in 2003 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science‘s Board of Governors finally decided to right a wrong and award an Honorary Oscar to the then-70-year-old O’Toole ”whose remarkable talents have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters”. To the Board’s surprise, particularly for a man who knew the agony of defeat seven times, he became the first person in memory to turn it down by writing a letter to the Academy that said in part, “I am still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright. Would the Academy please defer the honor until I am 80?” Then-Academy President Frank Pierson replied that the award was not for retirement but to celebrate a remarkable career and he pointed out stars like Paul Newman and Henry Fonda were given Honorary Oscars and went on to actually win one the very next year. O’Toole was finally convinced to accept, and attended the ceremony. As he received the statuette from Meryl Streep he won big laughs saying “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride my foot! I have my very own Oscar now to be with me ’til death do us part.”
Peter Seamus O’Toole was born on August 2, 1932 in Connemara, Ireland in County Galway. The current President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, had this to say about O’Toole and his passing:
I have heard with great sadness of the passing of Peter O’Toole this weekend. Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre.
In a long list of leading roles on stage and in film, Peter brought an extraordinary standard to bear as an actor. He had a deep interest in literature and a love of Shakespearean Sonnets in particular.
While he was nominated as Best Actor for an Oscar eight times, and received a special Oscar from his peers, for his contribution to film, he was deeply committed to the stage.
Those who saw him play leading roles on the screen from Lawrence in 1962, or through the role of Henry II in Becket, and The Lion in Winter, or through the dozens of films, will recognise a lifetime devoted to the art form of the camera.
Yet others may have have seen him on stage in London, New York, or Dublin where he performed at the Abbey with the late Donal McCann in Godot or at the Gaiety in the plays of Shaw and O’Casey. His performance in Shaw’s plays was outstanding.
I was privileged to know him as a friend since 1969. I spent part of 1979 in Clifden where we met almost daily and all of us who knew him in the West will miss his warm humour and generous friendship.
To Kate, Pat, Lorcan and Sian my deepest sympathy. Sabina and I and our Children will miss him, as will all those who saw him on screen or stage or had the privilege, as I had, of having his friendship and humour.
He was unsurpassed for the grace he brought to every performance on and off the stage.
Peter O’Toole will be missed. I saw him many times in film and basically grew up with the actor. His most famous film was the last DVD I purchased, the “Superbit” of Lawrence of Arabia. I wish he had lived to 100.
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