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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 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:

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

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

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By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.