Peter O’Toole Dead at 81: Watch Some of His Greatest Scenes

Peter O'Toole rehearsing for the stage play 'Baal,' which premiered in 1963. (Photo: AP)

Peter O’Toole rehearsing for the stage play ‘Baal,’ which premiered in 1963. (Photo: AP)

Peter O’Toole—the Irish stage and screen actor who earned massive acclaim in Britain and around the world; an eight-time Oscar nominee who went winless beyond an honorary award; a quarrelsome, hard-drinking enfant terrible; and a male beauty rarely glimpsed in the cinema— has died aged 81 in London after a long illness.

BBC News has been gathering tributes and remembrances from celebrities and figures like British Prime Minister David Cameron, who released a statement: “My thoughts are with Peter O’Toole’s family and friends. His performance in my favorite film, Lawrence of Arabia, was stunning.”

And it was 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia that made him into a global icon, netting him his first Oscar nomination. In a career of towering performances, it’s the role for which he’ll always be best remembered. “The role seemed tailor-made for the then 30-year-old actor and thrust him into the superstar bracket, where he was to remain for the rest of his life,” writes BBC NEWS in their obituary of the actor. For a lesser talent, it would have been easy to become dwarfed by David Lean‘s widescreen setpieces, but O’Toole’s charisma as British adventurer T.E. Lawrence more than filled the screen:

Here are a few more clips of O’Toole’s best work:

Becket, 1964 – co-starring Richard Burton

Dancing and stripping off his shirt in What’s New, Pussycat? in 1965

The Lion in Winter, 1968 – opposite Katharine Hepburn

Goodbye, Mr. Chips, 1969 – opposite singer Petula Clark

The Ruling Class, 1972 – the primal scream

Man of La Mancha, 1972 – “The Impossible Dream” with Sophia Loren

The Stunt Man, 1980 – playing the megalomaniac film director Eli Cross

And the full trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BesLJgU0ZBs

My Favorite Year, 1982 – O’Toole playing drunk, displaying glorious gifts of physical comedy

The Last Emperor, 1987

O’Toole accepting his honorary Oscar in 2003 from Meryl Streep

Venus, 2006 – reciting Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18″ in the film that garnered his final Oscar nomination

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHwI-ra05pM

What’s your favorite Peter O’Toole performance? Tell us below:

See more:
“The Heart For It Has Gone Out Of Me” – Peter O’Toole Retires
Taylor and Burton: Oh, the Movies They Made – A Top Five List

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself—he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri—he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.
View all posts by Kevin Wicks.