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It is always a sad day when someone passes away. For the family, friends, and fans of legendary actor Peter O’Toole, 14 December 2013 was a very sad day indeed.

Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia

Peter O’Toole died after a long illness at the age of 81. As an actor, he plied his craft brilliantly on stage, film, and television for more years than many of us have been alive.

Even as a youngster, I was mesmerized by O’Toole’s blue eyes. I didn’t know anything about what makes a great actor, nor did I have the vocabulary to express how charismatic I found him to be. I stared, and took in as much of his characters and the films’ stories as I could grasp at the time.

Over time, I grew to appreciate his talent for embodying his roles, where O’Toole the man, the actor, disappeared from view and British Army officer T.E. Lawrence (of Lawrence of Arabia) or King Henry II (of Becket and The Lion in Winter) was on screen in his stead.

For each of those roles and five others (including Arthur Chipping in Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Jack Gurney in The Ruling Class, Eli Cross in The Stunt Man, Allan Swann in My Favorite Year, and Maurice in Venus), O’Toole was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award, but won none.

In total, O’Toole was nominated for 67 awards and won 21, including a BAFTA, an Emmy, and four Golden Globes. For his contribution to film during a career that spanned more than half a century, he received an Honorary Oscar® in 2003, three years before his last Academy Award nomination for Venus.

Within his body of work are a few more of my O’Toole favorites — some nominated, some not, but gems all — including the romantic comedy How to Steal a Million, in which he starred opposite Audrey Hepburn as an art insurance investigator-turned-burglar (what some people won’t do for love), and Dean Spanley, a fantasy dramedy about a father-son relationship and the seemingly true tales of a reincarnated soul’s past life, costarring Jeremy Northam and Sam Neill.

And although seeing O’Toole guest star in an episode of Doctor Who will never come to pass now, watching him play the aged but no less frisky Lothario to David Tennant’s youthful one in Casanova is a hoot.

Like many others, I’m sure, I would have loved to have met Peter O’Toole, to have had a chat and a laugh, and to have gazed into those blue eyes up close and personal. Sadly, the possibility of such an encounter no longer exists. So, I will do what I have done for years: pick up a DVD or log in to a VOD account and watch this master actor inhabit a character like no other.



RIP Peter O’Toole 1932-2013
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