Born 1932, British stage and film actor of Irish descent Peter O’Toole made his West End debut in The Long and the Short and the Tall in 1959, and played the title role in Hamlet in the National Theatre’s first production in 1963. Excelling on the London stage, he was known as a “hellraiser” off it.
Making his film debut in 1959, O’Toole achieved international recognition playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) for which he received his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was nominated for this award another seven times – for playing King Henry II in both Becket (1964) and 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 nominations for acting without a win.
In 2002, O’Toole was awarded the Academy Honorary Award for his career achievements. He was additionally the recipient of four Golden Globe Awards, one BAFTA Award for Best British Actor and one Primetime Emmy Award.
O’Toole retired from acting in July 2012 due to a recurrence of stomach cancer. He died in 2013 at Wellington Hospital in St John’s Wood, London, at the age of 81.
O’Toole has appeared on lists of greatest actors from publications in England and Ireland. In 2020, he was listed at number 4 on The Irish Times list of Ireland’s greatest film actors.
Take a look at these vintage photos to see portrait of young Peter O’Toole in the 1950s and 1960s.