The last of the great hell-raising Celtic rebel actors died over the weekend. Peter O’Toole died at the age of 81 after suffering from an unspecified disease.
Peter O”Toole belonged to the post-war cadre of actors who grew up loving the British theatre but made it big in Hollywood. He stood alongside Richard Burton, Richard Harris and others. They drank, womanised and fought like the drunken labourers who worked on building sites. Yet they could also play sophisticated and tender roles which mad them popular with the artistic fraternity.
Peter O’Toole famously said that he and his cohorts ”…did in public what everyone did in private….”. He has the record for being nominated 8 times for an Oscar and never winning. He went on to say that he was ”….always the bridesmaid but never the bride…”. He finally got an honorary Oscar as a consolation.
His greatest role was perhaps Lawrence of Arabia where he played the part of T.E. Lawrence in such a way that confirmed his rather conflicting personal attributes and the film deserved the title of epic. He again had a major smash when he played the role of Jeffrey Bernard in Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell a play written by Keith Waterhouse. the play was about a real life character and journalist who wrote about the low life’s of Soho and Fitzrovia and the drunken artistic crowd that collided with it. The title refers to the notice that was placed in the magazine when Jeffrey Bernard was too drunk to write.
As a great Shakespearean actor Peter O’Toole was a expert on Shakespeare an was famous for knowing all 118 sonnets. Although his greatest moment should have been his greatest downfall. He played Macbeth on stage and was so panned by the critics that the show became a raging success with the audience flocking to see how bad the play and the role he played was.
Due to his political philosophy Peter O’Toole refused a knighthood and at his death he leaves a partner and 3 children,