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Peter O'Toole

Peter O'Toole
The Savannah Film Festival, 2004 Born Peter Seamus O’Toole
August 2, 1932(1932-08-02) (age 75)
Connemara, Ireland, or [1][2]
Leeds, West Yorkshire, EnglandYears active 1956-present Spouse(s) Siân Phillips(1959-1976) Awards won Academy AwardsAcademy Honorary Award
2003 Lifetime Achievement BAFTA AwardsBest Actor in a Leading Role
1962 Lawrence of ArabiaEmmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor - Mini-series/Movie
1999 Joan of ArcGolden Globe AwardsMost Promising Newcomer - Male
Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
1964 Becket
1968 The Lion in Winter
Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1969 Goodbye, Mr. ChipsLaurence Olivier AwardsBest Actor
1989 Jeffrey Bernard is UnwellIrish Film and Television AwardsBest Supporting Actor in Film/TV
2004 TroyOther Awards NBR Award for Best Actor
1969 Goodbye, Mr. Chips
1972 The Ruling Class ; Man of La Mancha

Peter Seamus O'Toole[2] (born August 2, 1932) is an eight-time Academy Award-nominated Irish actor. He has received three Golden Globes and an Emmy Award. He was awarded an honorary Oscar for his body of work in 2003.



Early life

O'Toole was born in 1932, with some sources giving his birthplace as Connemara, County Galway, Ireland, and others as Leeds, in West Yorkshire, England, where he also grew up. O'Toole himself is not certain of his birthplace or date, noting in his autobiography that while he accepts August 2 as his birthdate, he has conflicting birth certificates in both countries, with the Irish one giving a June, 1932 birthdate.[2] O'Toole is the son of Constance Jane (née Ferguson), a Scottish-born nurse, and Patrick Joseph O'Toole, an Irish bookmaker.[3][4] When O'Toole was one year old, the O’Tooles began a five-year tour of major racetrack towns in northern England. Peter O'Toole went to a Catholic School for seven or eight years, where he was "implored" to become right-handed. “I used to be scared stiff of the nuns: their whole denial of womanhood—the black dresses and the shaving of the hair—was so horrible, so terrifying,” he later commented. “Of course, that's all been stopped. They're sipping gin and tonic in the Dublin pubs now, and a couple of them flashed their pretty ankles at me just the other day.”[5]

O'Toole later took pride in his Irish ancestry, even to the point of apparently always wearing at least one item of green clothing - usually his socks.[6]

O'Toole was called up for National Service in Britain. As reported in a radio interview in 2006 on NPR, he was asked by an officer whether he had something he'd always wanted to do. His reply was that he'd always wanted to try being either a poet or an actor. O'Toole attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) (1952–1954) on a scholarship after being rejected by the Abbey Theatre's Drama School in Dublin by the then director Ernest Blythe, because he couldn't speak Irish. At RADA, he was in the same class as Albert Finney, Richard Harris, Alan Bates and Brian Bedford. O'Toole described this as "the most remarkable class the academy ever had, though we weren't reckoned for much at the time. We were all considered dotty".[7]


O'Toole began working in the theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearean actor at the Bristol Old Vic and with the English Stage Company, before making his television debut in 1954 and a very minor film debut in 1959. O'Toole's major break came when he was chosen to play T.E. Lawrence in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962), after Marlon Brando proved unavailable and Albert Finney turned down the role.[8] His performance was ranked number one in Premiere magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. The role introduced him to U.S. audiences and earned him the first of his eight nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

O'Toole is also one of a handful of actors to be Oscar-nominated for playing the same role in two different films; he played King Henry II in both 1964's Becket and 1968's The Lion in Winter. O'Toole played Hamlet under Laurence Olivier's direction in the premiere production of the Royal National Theatre in 1963. He has also appeared in Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock at Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, fulfilling a lifetime ambition when taking to the stage of the Irish capital's Abbey Theatre in 1970 to play in Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, alongside the stage actor Donal McCann. His 1980 performance as Macbeth is often considered one of the greatest disasters in theatre history, but he has redeemed his theatrical reputation with his performances as John Tanner in Man and Superman and Henry Higgins in Pygmalion, and won a Laurence Olivier Award for his performance in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell (1989).

O'Toole won an Emmy Award for his role in the 1999 mini-series Joan of Arc. In 2004, O'Toole played King Priam in the summer blockbuster Troy. In 2005, he appeared on television as the older version of legendary 18th century Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova in the BBC drama serial Casanova. O'Toole's role was mainly to frame the drama, telling the story of his life to serving maid Edith (Rose Byrne). The younger Casanova seen for most of the action was played by David Tennant, who had to wear contact lenses to match his brown eyes to O'Toole's blue.

He was once again nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Maurice in the 2006 film Venus, directed by Roger Michell, his eighth such nomination. Most recently, O'Toole co-stars in the Pixar animated film, Ratatouille, an animated film about a rat with dreams of becoming the greatest chef in Paris. Jeffrey M. Anderson of Combustible Celluloid praised O'Toole's performance in Ratatouille, "Peter O'Toole's performance as the critic Anton Ego is worthy of another Oscar nomination."

O'Toole has recently joined the cast of Showtime's hit drama series The Tudors. He will portray Pope Paul III. Season 2 of the series is scheduled to air in March 2008.

Personal life

In a BBC Radio interview in January 2007, O'Toole said that he had studied women for a very long time, had given it his best try, but knew "nothing". In 1960, he married Welsh actress, Siân Phillips, with whom he had two daughters, Kate O'Toole, born 1961 (an award-winning actress and resident of Clifden, Ireland) and Patricia; the couple divorced in 1979. Ms Phillips later revealed in two autobiographies that O'Toole had subjected her to mental cruelty - largely fuelled by drinking - and was subject to bouts of extreme jealousy when she finally left him for a younger lover.[9]

He and his ex-girlfriend, model Karen Brown, had a son, Lorcan Patrick O'Toole (born March 14, 1983), born when Peter was in his fifties. Lorcan, now an actor, was a pupil at Harrow School, boarding at West Acre from 1996.

Severe illness almost ended his life in the late 1970s. Due to his heavy drinking, he underwent surgery in 1976 to have his pancreas and a large portion of his stomach removed, which resulted in insulin dependent diabetes. O'Toole eventually recovered and returned to work, although he found it harder to get parts in films, resulting in more work for television and occasional stage roles. However, he gave a star turn in 1987's much-garlanded The Last Emperor. He has resided in Clifden, County Galway, Ireland since 1963 and at the height of his career maintained homes in Dublin, London and Paris (at the Ritz), but now only keeps his home in London. While studying at RADA in the early 1950s he was active in protesting British involvement in the Korean War. Later in the 1960s he was an active opponent of the Vietnam War.

He is perhaps the only one of his "London" acting contemporaries not to be knighted. While a glaring omission at first glance, it is one that, according to London's Daily Mail in 2006, is one of his own making.[citation needed] According to the paper's Richard Kay, he was offered an honorary knighthood in 1987, but turned it down for personal and political reasons.

In an NPR interview in December 2006, O'Toole revealed that he knows all 154 Shakespeare sonnets. A self-described romantic, O'Toole regards the sonnets as among the finest collection of English poems. He reads them daily. In the movie Venus, he recites Sonnet 18, "Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day". O'Toole has written two books. Loitering With Intent: The Child chronicles his childhood in the years leading up to World War II and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1992. His second, Loitering With Intent: The Apprentice, is about his years spent training with a cadre of friends at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The books have been praised by critics such as Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote: "A cascade of language, a rumbling tumbling riot of words, a pub soliloquy to an invisible but imaginable audience, and the more captivating for it. O'Toole as raconteur is grand company." O'Toole is taking the rest of 2007 to finish his third installment. This book will have (as he described it) "the meat", meaning highlights from his stage and filmmaking career.

O'Toole is a noted fan of rugby and used to attend Five Nations matches with friends and fellow rugby fans Richard Harris and Richard Burton. He is also a lifelong player, coach and enthusiast of cricket. O'Toole is licensed to teach and coach cricket to children as young as ten. O'Toole is a fan of the football club Sunderland AFC. During an interview with DJ Chris Evans on his show TFI Friday, he was asked about his soccer allegiances and snarled 'Sunderland!' as if blighted by the experience.

O'Toole has been interviewed more than three times by Charlie Rose on The Charlie Rose Show. In the last year interview January 17, 2007, O'Toole said that the actor who had influenced him the most was Eric Porter. He also said that the difference between actors of yesterday and today are that actors of his generation were trained for "theatre, theatre, theatre." He also believes that the challenge for the actor is "to use his imagination to link to his emotion" and that "good parts make good actors." However, in other venues (including the DVD commentary for Becket), O'Toole has also credited Donald Wolfit as being his most important mentor. In an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on January 11, 2007, O'Toole said that the actor he most enjoyed working with was his close friend, actress Katharine Hepburn. They made the movie The Lion in Winter. He played King Henry II to her Eleanor of Aquitaine.

O'Toole remains close friends with his Lawrence of Arabia co-star Omar Sharif and his RADA classmate Albert Finney.

Academy Award nominations

O'Toole has been nominated eight times for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, making him the most-nominated actor never to win the award.


In 2003, the Academy honoured him with an Academy Honorary Award for his entire body of work and his lifelong contribution to film.[10] O'Toole initially balked about accepting, and wrote the Academy a letter saying he was "still in the game" and would like more time to "win the lovely bugger outright."[citation needed] The Academy informed him that they would bestow the award whether he wanted it or not. Further, as he related on The Charlie Rose Show in January 2007, his children admonished him, saying that it was the highest honor one could receive in the filmmaking industry. And so, O'Toole agreed to appear at the ceremony and receive his Honorary Oscar. It was presented to him by Meryl Streep, who has the most Oscar nominations of any actor (14).



Year Film Role Notes

Augustus, Caesar, Augustus

1960 KidnappedRobin MacGregor The Day They Robbed the Bank of EnglandCaptain Fitch The Savage InnocentsFirst Trooper 1962 Lawrence of ArabiaT.E. Lawrence1964 BecketHenry II1965 Lord JimLord Jim What's New Pussycat?Michael James The Sandpiper(voice) 1966 How to Steal a MillionSimon Dermott The Bible: In the Beginning... The Three Angels 1967 The Night of the GeneralsGeneral Tanz Casino RoyalePiper (uncredited) 1968 The Lion in WinterHenry IIGreat Catherine Capt. Charles Edstaston 1969 Goodbye, Mr. ChipsArthur Chipping 1970 Country DanceSir Charles Ferguson 1971 Murphy's WarMurphy 1972 Under Milk WoodCaptain Tom Cat The Ruling ClassJack Gurney, 14th Earl of Gurney Man of La ManchaDon Quixote de La Mancha/Miguel de Cervantes/Alonso Quijana 1975 RosebudLarry Martin Man FridayRobinson Crusoe 1976 FoxtrotLiviu Rogue MaleSir Robert Thorndyke 1978 Power PlayColonel Zeller 1979 Zulu DawnLord Chelmsford CaligulaTiberius Caesar1980 The Stunt ManEli Cross 1982 My Favorite YearAlan Swann 1983 Sherlock Holmes and the Valley of Fear Sherlock Holmes(voice) Sherlock Holmes and a Study in Scarlet Sherlock Holmes (voice) Sherlock Holmes and the Sign of Four Sherlock Holmes (voice) 1984 SupergirlZaltar 1985 CreatorHarry 1986 Club ParadiseGovernor Anthony Cloyden Hayes 1987 The Last EmperorReginald Johnston1988 High SpiritsPeter Plunkett 1989 As Long as It's Love Prof. Yan McShoul 1990 The Rainbow Thief Prince Meleagre Wings of Fame Cesar Valentin The Nutcracker PrincePantaloon (voice) 1991 King RalphSir Cedric Charles Willingham 1992 Rebecca's Daughters Lord Sarn Isabelle EberhardtMaj. Lyautey 1993 The Seventh CoinEmil Saber 1997 FairyTale: A True StoryArthur Conan Doyle1998 PhantomsDr. Timothy Flyte 1999 The ManorMr. Ravenscroft Molokai: The Story of Father Damien William Williamson 2002 Global HeresyLord Charles Foxley The Final CurtainJ.J. Curtis 2003 Bright Young ThingsColonel Blount 2004 TroyPriam2005 LassieThe Duke 2006 VenusMaurice One Night with the KingSamuel, the Prophet 2007 RatatouilleAnton Ego (voice) StardustLord of Stormhold 2008 Thomas Kinkade's Home for ChristmasGlen Wessler awaiting release Dean Spanley Fisk Senior post-production


Year TV Role Notes 1956 The Scarlet PimpernelFirst Soldier TV show (1 episode) 1961 RendezvousJohn TV show (3 episodes) 1980 Strumpet CityJim Larkin TV show 1981 MasadaGeneral Cornelius Flavius Silva miniseries1982 Man and SupermanJack Tanner TV movie 1983 PygmalionProfessor Henry Higgins TV movie Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville Curse Sherlock Holmes (voice) TV movie SvengaliAnton Bosnyak TV movie 1984 KimLama TV movie 1986 The Ray Bradbury TheaterJohn Hapmton TV show (1 episode) 1987 The Dark AngelUncle Silas TV movie 1990 Crossing to Freedom John Sidney Howard TV movie 1992 CivviesBarry Newman TV movie 1994 Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III Sam Trump miniseries1995 Heavy WeatherClarence, Earl of Emsworth TV movie 1996 Gulliver's TravelsEmperor of Lilliput TV movie 1998 Coming HomeColonel Carey-Lewis TV movie 1999 Joan of ArcBishop Cauchon Won EmmyJeffrey Bernard is UnwellJeffrey Bernard TV movie 2002 The Education of Max BickfordSidney McKnight TV show (1 episode) 2003 Hitler: The Rise of EvilPresident Paul von Hindenberg TV movie Imperium: AugustusAugustus Caesar TV movie 2005 CasanovaOlder Casanova TV movie 2008 The TudorsPope Paul III TV show Iron Road Relic miniseries

Stage appearances

1955-58 Bristol Old Vic

1959 Royal Court Theatre

1960 Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford

1963 National Theatre


1966 Gaiety Theatre, Dublin

1969 Abbey Theatre, Dublin

1973-74 Bristol Old Vic

1978 Toronto, Washington, and Chicago



  1. ^ O'Toole's birthplace is unclear as two birth certificates exist. Although he, himself is uncertain, most sources list Connemara.
  2. ^ a b c O'Toole, Peter, Loitering With Intent, London: Macmillan London Ltd., 1992, p. 10
  3. ^ Peter O'Toole Biography. filmreference (2008). Retrieved on 2008-04-04.
  4. ^ Frank Murphy. "Peter O'Toole, A winner in waiting", The Irish World, 31 January 2007. Retrieved on 2008-04-04
  5. ^ Alan Waldman. "Tribute to Peter O'Toole", Retrieved on 2008-04-04
  6. ^ Linda Green. "All about Peter", Theatre, Musicals and Actors Web, 22 December 2006. Retrieved on 2008-04-04
  7. ^ Guy Flatley (24 July 2007). The Rule of O'Toole. MovieCrazed. Retrieved on 2008-04-04.
  8. ^ "Peter O’Toole". Encyclopædia Britannica. (2008). Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved on 2008-04-04
  9. ^ Nathan Southern (2008). Peter O'Toole: Overview. All Movie Guide. MSN Movies. Retrieved on 2008-04-04.
  10. ^ Peter O'Toole Biography. Yahoo Movies (2007). Retrieved on 2008-04-04.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Peter O'Toole Awards Preceded by
Peter Finch
for No Love for JohnnieBAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
for Lawrence of ArabiaSucceeded by
Dirk Bogarde
for The ServantPreceded by
Sidney Poitier
for Lilies of the FieldGolden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
for BecketSucceeded by
Omar Sharif
for Doctor ZhivagoPreceded by
Rod Steiger
for In the Heat of the NightGolden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
for The Lion in WinterSucceeded by
John Wayne
for True GritPreceded by
Ron Moody
for Oliver!Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
for Goodbye, Mr. ChipsSucceeded by
Albert Finney
for ScroogePreceded by
Sidney Poitier, Robert RedfordAcademy Honorary Award
2003 Succeeded by
Blake Edwards
v • d • ePrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor - Miniseries or a Movie

Scott Jacoby (1972) · Marlon Brando (1979) · George Grizzard (1980) · David Warner (1981) · Laurence Olivier (1982) · Richard Kiley (1983) · Art Carney (1984) · Karl Malden (1985) · John Malkovich (1986) · Dabney Coleman (1987) · John Shea (1988) · Derek Jacobi (1989) · Vincent Gardenia (1990) · James Earl Jones (1991) · Hume Cronyn (1992) · Beau Bridges (1993) · Michael A. Goorjian (1994) · Donald Sutherland (1995) · Tom Hulce (1996) · Beau Bridges (1997) · George C. Scott (1998) · Peter O'Toole (1999) · Hank Azaria (2000)

Complete list: (1972-2000) · (2001-present)

PersondataNAME O'Toole, Peter Seamus ALTERNATIVE NAMES O'Toole, Peter James (birth name) SHORT DESCRIPTION actor DATE OF BIRTH 2 August1932PLACE OF BIRTH Connemara, County Galway, Ireland? DATE OF DEATH living PLACE OF DEATH
Categories: 1932 births | Living people | Academy Honorary Award recipients | BAFTA winners (people) | Best Drama Actor Golden Globe (film) winners | Best Musical or Comedy Actor Golden Globe (film) winners | Emmy Award winners | Irish film actors | Irish stage actors | Irish television actors | People from County Galway | People from Leeds | British people of Irish descent | Royal National Theatre Company members | Royal Shakespeare Company members | Shakespearean actorsHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since February 2007

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