"Lawrence of Arabia" actor Peter O'Toole dies, aged 81

Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:19pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Andrew Osborn

LONDON (Reuters) - Actor Peter O'Toole, who shot to international fame in the film classic "Lawrence of Arabia", has died aged 81 in London after a long illness, his agent said on Sunday.

O'Toole, who survived a bout with stomach cancer in the 1970s but whose health had been damaged by years of heavy drinking and chain-smoking, died in a London hospital on Saturday, Steve Kenis, his agent, told Reuters.

"Peter O'Toole's family announced today that very sadly Peter died yesterday, peacefully in hospital. He had been ill for some time," Kenis said in a statement.

O'Toole appeared in many acclaimed films, but is best remembered for his lead role in David Lean's 1962 blockbuster "Lawrence of Arabia" in which he played T.E. Lawrence, the eccentric British army officer who fought with Arab irregular troops against Ottoman Turkish rule in World War One.

O'Toole's striking good looks and charm sustained him through a stage and film career of more than 50 years that swung wildly between triumph and disaster, garnering him eight Oscar nominations but, to the disgust of his admirers, no win.

The most-nominated actor never to win the award, he eventually and reluctantly accepted an honorary Oscar in 2003.

Before doing so, he composed a hand-written open letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Later describing his reluctance to accept the award, he wrote: "I was enchanted but said that as I was still in the game and might yet win the lovely bugger outright, would the Academy please defer the honor until I am 80?"   Continued...

Irish-born actor Peter O'Toole displays his cement-covered hands after placing his handprints in cement during hand and footprint ceremonies honoring him at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood April 30, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser