Sad To See You Leaving 2013: Peter O’Toole

by Charlie_East_West on December 26, 2013


Peter O’Toole was one of the great film stars of all time. He was also one of the greatest hedonists of all time.

He achieved global superstar status from playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) for which he received his first Academy Award nomination. He received a further seven Oscar nominations – for Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982) and Venus (2006) – and holds the record for the most Academy Award acting nominations without a win – which fits perfectly with his iconoclastic and irreverent personality.

He also won four Golden Globes, a BAFTA and an Emmy, and eventually, became the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award in 2003. O’Toole was also recognised for his countless critically acclaimed theatrical performances.

Peter O’Toole was not just a titan of an actor, he was a titan of a hellraiser. He, along with Richard Burton, Oliver Reed and his long term drinking parter in crime Richard Harris – became part of a thespian hellraising establishment – blessed with an ability to put away brilliant acting performances with world class drinking. He became the thinking man’s raconteur.

At one point, O’Toole and Harris were engaged in a spot of friendly rivalry for the affections of the same woman. After a night of hefty drinking, they went their separate ways, only to bump into each other 20 minutes later outside the girl’s block of flats. A deal was then struck between both men. O’Toole would try to smooth-talk his way in over the intercom, while Harris would climb the drainpipe up to the sixth floor and try to attract her attention that way. The first to get to the bedroom would be the winner.

Richard Harris later recalled the story:- “I nearly killed myself with my mountaineering efforts, but eventually I reached her balcony and peered in. Peter had that moment walked into the room to claim his prize. As they headed to the bedroom, he looked back and saw my dishevelled figure and winked. I nearly fell to the ground just from laughing.”

The greatest drunken escapade quote of all time comes from Peter O’Toole – “I did quite enjoy the days when one went for a beer at one’s local in Paris and woke up in Corsica.

The greatest anti-fitness quote of all time comes from Peter O’Toole – “The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise.”

And finally, one of the many apocryphal stories that I hope is true about the great man:- Peter O’Toole once went out for a boozy lunch with pals and by the evening they decided to take in a play. O’Toole took his seat, only to bolt towards the stage when the curtain went up. He had a part in the show.

The great man has just recently departed us. A true anti-hero both in life and film. One of the last great buccaneers.

Peter O’Toole RIP 1932-2013.

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