( b. Aug 02, 1932 Connemara, IRELAND - d. Dec 14, 2013 London, UNITED KINGDOM ) Male
Peter O'Toole was a charismatic, devil-may-care film actor who brought charm, wit and intelligence to the roles he played on the screen, as well as to his daily persona and often dissolute public life.
Naturally athletic, the young Peter took up swimming, boxing, rugby and cricket. After stints as a journalist, and a stay in the Royal Navy, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1952 to 1954 on a scholarship. His class included Albert Finney, Alan Bates and Brian Bedford. The experience of auditioning for RADA, Mr. O'Toole said later, "shamed me into getting properly trained as a actor."
From 1955 to 1958, he cut his teeth at the Old Vic, playing supporting roles in Shakespeare, Shaw and Restoration comedies. He played Jimmy Porter in a production of Look Back in Anger and Vladimir in Waiting for Godot. During the 1960 season of the Royal Shakespeare Company, he was Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and Thersites in Troilus and Cressida.
Following a decade-long apprenticeship on the stage, Mr. O'Toole was catapulted to international stardom at the age of 30 for playing the dashing title adventurer, T.E. Lawrence, in David Lean's sweeping 1962 epic "Lawrence of Arabia." He was given the role after Marlon Brando and Albert Finney turned it down. Part of the deal was a seven-year contract to producer Sam Spiegel (whom he loathed), and the filming consumed two years of his life. But the payoff was considerable. Overnight, he was regarded as one of the world's finest actors, and--thanks in part to blonde, blue-eyed good looks that were brought out spectacularly by Freddie Young's vibrant cinematography--a movie star of unparalleled magnetism.
He was nominated for an Academy Award for "Lawrence," the first of eight such nods. He never won, but was in 2003 given an honorary award for his body of work. Following his fame in "Lawrence of Arabia," he portrayed Hamlet in a National Theatre production directed by Laurence Olivier.
He followed up this victory with a series of stately film roles, including "Becket," "The Lion in Winter" (he played Henry II in both films) and a remake of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." To each he invariably brought not just formidable acting skill and a fulsome personality, but a self-deprecating, winking sense of humor. His star fell in the '70s as he stumbled through a series of unrewarding movies, but he recovered his reputation with bravura performances as a mad-with-power director in "The Stunt Man" (1980) and--in a bit of knowing self-mockery--a washed up film star slumming on television in "My Favorite Year" (1982).
Beginning in 1980, Mr. O'Toole occasionally returned to the stage. He was Macbeth at the Old Vic in 1980, and Henry Higgins in Pygmalion by on the West End (1984) and Broadway (1987)--his only Broadway appearance. He scored a singular success playing close to type as a self-destructive, drunkard journalist in Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, in separate West End productions in 1989, 1991 and 1999. The latter performance won him a 2000 Olivier Award.