Skip to main content
Select Source:

O'Toole, Peter 1932–

O'TOOLE, Peter 1932


PERSONAL


Full name Peter Seamus (some sources cite Seamus Peter) O'Toole; born August 2, 1932, in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland; son of Patrick Joseph (a bookmaker) and Constance Jane (maiden name, Ferguson) O'Toole; married Sian Phillips (an actress), December, 1959 (divorced, 1979); children: (with Phillips) Katherine "Kate" (an actress), Patricia; (with model Karen Brown) Lorcan. Education: Trained for the stage at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, 195254. Avocational Interests: Coaching cricket, fly fishing.


Addresses: Manager Johnnie Planco, Untitled Entertainment, 23 East 22nd St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10010.


Career: Actor, producer, and director. Bristol Old Vic Company, member of company, 195558, associate director, 1980; Keep Films Ltd., partner, beginning 1959. Royal Alexandra Theatre, artistic director for U.S. tour, 1978. Yorkshire Evening News, began as a messenger and copy boy, c. 1946, became reporter. Military service: Royal Navy, served for two years, including as a radio operator and decoder on a submarine.

Member: Garrick Club.


Awards, Honors: Named actor of the year by London critics, 1959, for The Long and the Short and the Tall; Film Award, best British actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Academy Award nomination, best actor, Golden Globe Award nomination, most promising male newcomer, and nomination for Golden Laurel Award, top male dramatic performance, all 1963, for Lawrence of Arabia; Golden Laurel Award, top new male personality, 1963; Grammy Award nomination, documentary, spoken word, or drama recording, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1964, for Dialogue Highlights from "Becket "; Academy Award nomination, best actor, Golden Globe Award, best motion picture actor in a drama, Film Award nomination, best British actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and nomination for Golden Laurel Award, best male dramatic performance, all 1965, for Becket; nomination for Golden Laurel Award, male star, 1965; Academy Award nomination, best actor, and Golden Globe Award, best actor in a dramatic film, both 1969, for The Lion in Winter; National Board of Review Award, best actor, Academy Award nomination, best actor, Golden Globe Award, best actor in a musical or comedy film, and David di Donatello Award, best foreign actor, all 1970, for Goodbye, Mr. Chips; nomination for Golden Laurel Award, 1970; National Board of Review Award, best actor, 1972, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actor in a musical or comedy, 1973, both for Man of La Mancha; National Board of Review Award, best actor, 1972, and Academy Award nomination, best actor, 1973, both for The Ruling Class; Academy Award nomination, best actor, National Society of Film Critics Award, best actor, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actor in a drama, all 1981, for The Stunt Man; Emmy Award nomination, best actor in a limited series or special, 1981, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, 1982, both for Masada; Academy Award nomination, best actor, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best actor in a motion picture comedy or musical, 1983, both for My Favorite Year; tied for Annual CableACE Award, best actor in a drama series, National Cable Television Association, 1986, for "Banshee," Ray Bradbury Theatre; decorated Commander des Arts et des Lettres, 1988; David di Donatello Award, best supporting actor, 1988, and Film Award nomination, best actor in a supporting role, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1989, both for The Last Emperor; Variety Club Award, best stage actor, 1992, for Our Song; Emmy Award, outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or movie, 1999, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best supporting actor in a series, miniseries, or motion picture made for television, 2000, both for Joan of Arc; Special Laurence Olivier Award, outstanding achievement, Society of West End Theatre, 2000; Best Actor Award, CherbourgOcteville Festival of Irish and British Film, 2002, for The Final Curtain; DVD Premiere Award nomination, best actor, 2003, for Global Heresy; Honorary Academy Award, 2003.


CREDITS


Film Appearances:

Robin Oig MacGregor, Kidnapped, 1959, Buena Vista, 1960.

Captain Fitch, The Day They Robbed the Bank of England, MetroGoldwynMayer, 1960.

First trooper, The Savage Innocents (also known as Les dents du diable and Ombre bianche ), Paramount, 1961.

Thomas E. Lawrence (title role), Lawrence of Arabia, Columbia, 1962.

King Henry II, Becket, Paramount, 1964.

Title role, Lord Jim, Columbia, 1965.

Michael James, What's New Pussycat? (also known as Quoi de neuf, Pussycat? ), United Artists, 1965.

(Uncredited) Voice, The Sandpiper, MetroGoldwynMayer, 1965.

The three angels, The Bible ... in the Beginning (also known as The Bible and La Bibbia ), Twentieth CenturyFox, 1966.

Simon Dermott, How to Steal a Million (also known as How to Steal a Million Dollars and Live Happily Ever After ), Twentieth CenturyFox, 1966.

General Tanz, The Night of the Generals (also known as La nuit des generaux ), Columbia, 1967.

(Uncredited) Piper, Casino Royale (also known as Charles K. Feldman's Casino Royale ), Columbia, 1967.

King Henry II, The Lion in Winter, Avco Embassy, 1968.

Captain Charles Edstaston, Great Catherine, Warner Bros., 1968.

Arthur Chipping, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, MetroGoldwynMayer, 1969.

Sir Charles Henry Arbuthot Pinkerton Ferguson, Brotherly Love (also known as Country Dance and The Same Skin ), MetroGoldwynMayer, 1970.

Murphy, Murphy's War, Paramount, 1971.

Miguel de Cervantes, Don QuixoteQuijana, and Alonso Quijano, Man of La Mancha (also known as L'uomo della Mancha ), United Artists, 1972.

Jack Arnold Alexander Tancred Gurney, 14th Earl of Gurney, The Ruling Class, Avco Embassy, 1972.

Captain Cat, Under Milk Wood, Altura, 1973.

Liviu, Foxtrot (also known as The Far Side of Paradise and The Other Side of Paradise ), New World, 1975.

Robinson Crusoe, Man Friday, Avco Embassy, 1975.

Larry Martin, Rosebud, United Artists, 1975.

Colonel Zeller, Power Play (also known as Operation Overthrow, State of Shock, Coup d'Etat, and Le jeu de la puissance ), Robert Cooper, 1978.

Emperor Tiberius Caesar, Caligula (also known as Caligula, My Son, Caligola, and Io, Caligola ), PAC, 1979.

Lord Chelmsford, Zulu Dawn, Warner Bros., 1979.

Eli Cross, The Stunt Man, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1981.

Alan Swann, My Favorite Year, MetroGoldwynMayer, 1982.

Voice of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and a Study in Scarlet (animated), 1983.

Voice of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville Curse (animated), 1983.

Voice of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and the Sign of Four (animated), 1983.

Voice of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and the Valley of Fear (animated), 1983.

Zaltar, Supergirl (also known as Supergirl: The Movie ), TriStar, 1984.

Buried Alive, Aquarius, 1984.

Dr. Harry Wolper, Creator (also known as The Big Picture ), Universal, 1985.

Governor Anthony Cloyden Hayes, Club Paradise, Warner Bros., 1986.

Reginald F. "R. J." Johnston, The Last Emperor (also known as Le dernier empereur and L'ultimo imperatore ), Columbia, 1987.

Peter Plunkett, High Spirits, TriStar, 1989.

Professor Yan McShoul, On a Moonlit Night (also known as As Long As It's Love, Claire, Crystal or Ash, Fire or Wind, As Long As It's Love, and In una notte di chiaro di luna ), 1989.

Cesar Valentin, Wings of Fame, 1990.

Prince Meleagre, The Rainbow Thief, 1990.

Voice of Pantaloon, The Nutcracker Prince (animated), Warner Bros., 1990.

Lord Willingham, King Ralph, Universal, 1991.

Major Lyautey, Isabelle Eberhardt, 1991.

Lord Sarn, Rebecca's Daughters, 1992.

Emil Saber, The Seventh Coin (also known as Worlds Apart ), Hemdale Releasing, 1993.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Fairy Tale: A True Story (also known as Fairy Tale and Illumination ), Paramount, 1997.

Dr. Timothy Flyte, Dean Koontz' Phantoms (also known as Phantoms ), Dimension Films/Miramax, 1998.

Mr. Ravenscroft, The Manor, Falcon, 1999.

William Williamson, Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (also known as Damiaan and Father Damien ), Unapix Entertainment, 1999.

Lord Foxley, Global Heresy (also known as Rock My World and Au coeur du rock ), GFT Entertainment, 2002.

Colonel Blount, Bright Young Things, Icon, 2003.


Also appeared in Helena, Hidden Talent, The Pit and the Pendulum, and Wings of Fame.


Film Work:

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Lord Jim, Columbia, 1965.

Producer, Great Catherine, Warner Bros., 1968.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Jim Larkin, Strumpet City, RTE, 1979.

General Cornelius Flavius Silva, Masada (also known as The Antagonists ), ABC, 1981.

Sam Trump, John Jakes' Heaven and Hell: North and South, Book III (also known as Heaven and Hell: North and South, Book III and North and South III ), ABC, 1994.

Emperor of Lilliput, Gulliver's Travels, NBC, 1996.

Colonel CareyLewis, Coming Home (also known as Heimkehr and Rosamunde PilcherHeimkehr ), 1998.

Bishop Cauchon, Joan of Arc (also known as Jeanne d'Arc ), CBS, 1999.

President Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler: The Rise of Evil, CBS, 2003.

Augustus, Augustus (also known as Imperium ), 2003.


Television Appearances; Movies:

Captain Robert Thorndyke, Rogue Male, BBC, 1976.

Anton Bosnyak, Svengali, CBS, 1983.

Professor Henry Higgins, Pygmalion, Showtime, 1983.

Lama, Kim, CBS, 1984.

John Sidney Howard, Crossing to Freedom (also known as Pied Piper and The Red Piper ), CBS, 1990.

Barry Newman, Civvies, 1992.

J. J. Curtis, The Final Curtain, Starz!, 2002.

Interviewee, AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Heroes & Villains (also known as AFI's 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains: America's Greatest Screen Characters ), CBS, 2003.


Television Appearances; Specials:

Present Laughter, ABC, 1968.

Starring Katharine Hepburn, 1981.

Jack Tanner, Man and Superman, 1982.

Host, Is There One Who Understands Me? The World of James Joyce (also known as The World of James Joyce ), 1982.

Himself and Zaltar, Supergirl: The Making of the Movie, ABC, 1985.

Uncle Silas Ruthyn, The Dark Angel (also known as Uncle Silas ), BBC, 1988, then on Mystery!, PBS, 1991.

Himself, The 18th Annual American Film Institute Life Achievement Award: A Salute to Sir David Lean (also known as The American Film Institute Salute to David Lean ), ABC, 1990.

"Peter O'Toole," South Bank Show, Bravo, 1993.

Clarence Earl of Emsworth, Heavy Weather (also known as P. G. Wodehouse's Heavy Weather ), 1995, then on Mobil Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1996.

Interviewee, The Best of Hollywood (also known as 50 Years: The Best of Hollywood ), 1998.

Title role, Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, 1999.

Interviewee, The John Thaw Story, 2002.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Presenter, The 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 1981.

The 75th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2003.


Television Appearances; Episodic:

Guest, The American Sportsman, 1982.

Monitor, NBC, 1983.

John Hampton, "Banshee," Ray Bradbury Theater, HBO, 1986.

Guest, "Wetten, dass...? aus Kiel," Wetten, dass...?, 1987.

Champlin on Film, Bravo, 1989.

Guest, Late Night with David Letterman, CBS, 1995.

Guest, TFI Friday, Channel 4, 1996.

"One More Time," The Education of Max Bickford, CBS, 2002.


Also appeared as first soldier, "A Tale of Two Pigtails," The Scarlet Pimpernel.


Television Work; Specials:

Producer and director, Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, 1999.


Stage Appearances:

Cabman, The Matchmaker, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, London, 1955.

Corvino, Volpone, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1955.

Peter Shirley, Major Barbara, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1956.

Duke of Cornwall, King Lear, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1956.

Hebert, The Empty Chair, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1956.

Bullock, The Recruiting Officer, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1956.

Maupa, The Queen and the Rebels, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1956.

Cardinal Malko Barberini, Lamp at Midnight, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1956.

Lodovico, Othello, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1956.

Baron Parsnip, The Sleeping Beauty, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1956.

Mr. Jaggers, Great Expectations, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1957.

Alfred Doolittle, Pygmalion, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1957.

Lysander, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1957.

Jimmy Porter, Look Back in Anger, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1957.

Uncle Gustave, Oh, My Papa!, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1957, then Garrick Theatre, London, 1957.

The Angel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1957.

The General, Romanoff and Juliet, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1957.

Mrs. Millie Baba, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1957.

John Tanner, Man and Superman, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1958.

Title role, Hamlet, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1958.

Paddy, The Pier, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1958.

Jupiter, Amphitryon 38, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1958.

Private Banforth, The Long and the Short and the Tall, Royal Court Theatre, then New Theatre, both London, 1959.

Shylock, The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company, StatforduponAvon, England, 1960.

Petruchio, The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company, StatforduponAvon, 1960.

Thersites, Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company, StatforduponAvon, 1960.

Title role, Baal, Phoenix Theatre, London, 1963.

Title role, Hamlet, National Theatre Company, Old Vic Theatre, London, 1963.

Peter, Ride a Cock Horse, Piccadilly Theatre, London, 1965.

Captain Jack Boyle, Juno and the Paycock, Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, Ireland, 1966.

Pictures in the Hallway, Gaiety Theatre, 1966.

John Tanner, Man and Superman, Gaiety Theatre, 1969.

Vladimir, Waiting for Godot, Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1969.

Happy Days, Abbey Theatre, 1969.

Title role, Uncle Vanya, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1973.

D'Arcy Tuck, Plunder, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1973.

Judgement, Bristol Old Vic Company, 1973.

King Magnus, The Apple Cart, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1974.

Solo reader, Justice, Bristol Old Vic Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1974.

DeadEyed Dicks, Dublin Festival Theatre, Dublin, 1976.

Macbeth, Old Vic Theatre, 1978.

Present Laughter, Chicago, IL, 1978.

Man and Superman, Haymarket Theatre, London, 19821983.

Professor Henry Higgins, Pygmalion, Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 1984.

The Apple Cart, Haymarket Theatre, 1986.

Professor Henry Higgins, Pygmalion, Plymouth Theatre, New York City, 1987.

Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford, England, then New York City, both 1987.

Title role, Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, Apollo Theatre, London, 1989, then Shaftesbury Theatre, 1991.

Roger Piper, Our Song, The Apollo Theatre, London, 1992.

Title role, Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, London, 1999.


Made stage debut at Civic Theatre, Leeds, England, 1949.


Major Tours:

Roger Muir, The Holiday, British cities, 1958.

Present Laughter, Royal Alexandra Theatre, U.S. cities, 1978.

Uncle Vanya, Royal Alexandra Theatre, U.S. cities, 1978.


RECORDINGS


Videos:

Himself, The Sinister Saga of Making "The Stunt Man, " 2000.


Albums:

Contributor to various soundtrack recordings, including Dialogue Highlights from "Becket, " c. 1964.


WRITINGS


Other:

Loitering with Intent (autobiography), Hyperion, Volume 1: The Child, 1993, Volume 2: The Apprentice, 1997.


OTHER SOURCES


Books:

Freedland, Michael, Peter O'Toole, W. H. Allen and Co., 1983.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1996.

O'Toole, Peter, Loitering with Intent (autobiography), Hyperion, Volume 1: The Child, 1993, Volume 2: The Apprentice, 1997.

Phillips, Sian, Private Faces: The Autobiography of Sian Phillips, Hodder & Stoughton, 1999.

Phillips, Sian, Public Places: The Autobiography of Sian Phillips, Hodder & Stoughton, 2001.

Wapshott, Nicholas, Peter O'Toole, New English Library, 1983.


Periodicals:

Entertainment Weekly, April 13, 2001, pp. 3239.

Guardian, March 19, 2003.

Newsweek, March 24, 2003, p. 54.

Other:

"Peter O'Toole," South Bank Show (television special), Bravo, 1993.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"O'Toole, Peter 1932–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"O'Toole, Peter 1932–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/otoole-peter-1932

"O'Toole, Peter 1932–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved June 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/otoole-peter-1932

O'Toole, Peter

O'TOOLE, Peter



Nationality: Irish. Born: Peter Seamus O'Toole in Connemara, Ireland, 2 August 1932; grew up in Leeds, Yorkshire. Education: Attended St. Anne's convent school, Leeds. Military Service: British Submarine Service, 1950–52: signalman and decoder. Family: Married 1) the actress Sian Phillips, 1959 (divorced 1979), daughters: Kate and Pat; 2) Karen Brown, 1983 (divorced), child: Lorcan. Career: Worked as journalist for Yorkshire Evening News; 1952–54—attended Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London; 1954–58—member of the Bristol Old Vic company: debut in The Matchmaker, 1955; 1959—on West End stage in The Long and the Short and the Tall; 1960—film debut in Kidnapped; in repertory at Stratford-upon-Avon Royal Shakespeare Theatre; later stage work includes roles in Macbeth, London, 1980, and Man and Superman, London, 1982; appeared in TV mini-series Masada, 1981, and John Jakes' Heaven and Hell: North and South, Part III, 1994. Awards: Best British Actor, British Academy, for Lawrence of Arabia, 1962; Best Actor, U.S. National Society of Film Critics, for The Stunt Man, 1980; also several Italian awards. Address: 98 Heath Street, London NW3, England.

Films as Actor:

1960

Kidnapped (Stevenson) (as Robin MacGregor); The Savage Innocents (Ombre Bianche) (Nicholas Ray) (as 1st Trooper); The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (Guillermin) (as Captain Fitch)

1962

Lawrence of Arabia (Lean) (title role)

1964

Becket (Glenville) (as King Henry II)

1965

What's New Pussycat? (Clive Donner) (as Michael James); Lord Jim (Richard Brooks) (title role); The Sandpiper (Minnelli) (as voice)

1966

The Bible . . . in the Beginning (The Bible; La Bibbia) (Huston) (as the Three Angels); How to Steal a Million (Wyler) (as Simon Dermott)

1967

Night of the Generals (Litvak) (as General Tanz); Casino Royale (Huston and others) (as Piper)

1968

Great Catherine (Flemyng) (as Captain Charles Edstaston); The Lion in Winter (Harvey) (as Henry II)

1969

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Wood) (as Arthur Chipping); Country Dance (Brotherly Love) (J. Lee Thompson) (as Sir Charles Henry Arbuthnot Pinkerton Ferguson)

1971

Murphy's War (Yates) (as Murphy)

1972

The Ruling Class (Medak) (as Jack, 14th Earl of Gurney); Man of La Mancha (Hiller) (as Cervantes/Don Quixote)

1973

Under Milk Wood (Sinclair) (as Captain Cat)

1975

Man Friday (Gold) (as Robinson Crusoe); Rosebud (Preminger) (as Larry Martin); Foxtrot (The Other Side of Paradise) (Ripstein); Rogue Male (Clive Donner—for TV) (as The Earl)

1978

Power Play (Burke) (as Col. Zeller)

1979

Zulu Dawn (Hickox) (as Lord Chelmsford)

1980

The Stunt Man (Rush) (as Eli Cross); Caligula (Brass—produced in 1977) (as Tiberius)

1982

My Favorite Year (Benjamin) (as Alan Swann); The Antagonists (Sagal—for TV)

1983

Svengali (Harvey—for TV); Pygmalion (Cooke—for TV) (as Henry Higgins)

1984

Supergirl (Szwarc) (as Zaltar); Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville Curse (Graham) (as voice); Kim (Davies—for TV)

1985

Creator (Passer) (as Harry)

1986

Club Paradise (Ramis) (as Gov. Anthony Croyden Hayes)

1987

The Last Emperor (Bertolucci) (as Reginald Johnston)

1988

High Spirits (Neil Jordan) (as Peter Plunkett)

1989

In una notta di chiaro di luna (On a Moonlit Night) (Wertmüller); Dark Angel (Hammond—for TV)

1990

Wings of Fame (Votocëk) (as Cesar Valentin); The Rainbow Thief (Jodorowsky) (as Prince Meleagre); Isabelle Eberhardt (Pringle) (as Major Lyautey); The Nutcracker Prince (Schibli) (as voice of Pantaloon); The Pied Piper (Crossing to Freedom) (Norman Stone—for TV) (as John Sidney Howard)

1991

King Ralph (Ward) (as Willingham)

1992

Rebecca's Daughters (Francis) (as Lord Sarn); The Seventh Coin (Soref) (as Emil Saber)

1996

Gulliver's Travels (Sturridge—for TV) (as Emperor of Lilliput)

1997

Fairy Tale: A True Story (Sturridge) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

1998

Phantoms (Chappelle) (as Timothy Flyte); Coming Home (Giles Foster) (as Colonel Carey-Lewis)

1999

The Manor (Berris) (as Mr. Ravenscroft); Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (Cox) (as William Williamson); Joan of Arc (Duguay—for TV) (Bishop Cauchon)

Publications


By O'TOOLE: books—

Loitering with Intent: The Child, London, 1992.

Loitering with Intent: The Apprentice, New York, 1996.


By O'TOOLE: articles—

"Interview: Peter O'Toole," in Playboy (Chicago), September 1965.

Interview with J. Buck, in Inter/View (New York), October 1972.

"O'Toole Ascending," interview with J. McBride, in Film Comment (New York), March-April 1981.


On O'TOOLE: books—

Freedland, Michael, Peter O'Toole: A Biography, New York, 1982.

Wapshott, Nicholas, Peter O'Toole: A Biography, Sevenoaks, Kent, 1983.


On O'TOOLE: articles—

Current Biography 1968, New York, 1968.

McGillivray, David, "Peter O'Toole," in Focus on Film (London), Summer 1972.

Houghton, M., "Slow Motion O'Toole," in Films in Review (New York), March 1985.


* * *

Losing themselves in the hollows of Peter O'Toole's craggy face in piddling television escapism such as Gulliver's Travels, his fans can flash backward to the more salubrious time when he was a blond god capable of standing astride a David Lean epic. Reduced to appearing in stentorian show-and-tell cameos, O'Toole has become a sort of John Barrymore for the nineties.

A promising light on London's West End and a potential matinee idol in minor films, O'Toole beat out Brando and Albert Finney for the coveted role of Lawrence of Arabia and breathed magnetic life-force into that enigmatic figure. Burnished by the sun and bundled up smashingly in a burnoose, a star was born. Like a lover with a fixation on piercing blue eyes, the camera could not get enough of him, but the ravishing-looking O'Toole was never interested in stripped-to-the-waist love god superstardom.

Despite forays into the fading Hollywood studio system, O'Toole never seemed comfortable twinkling at leading ladies in What's New Pussycat? or How to Steal a Million. Only when he brought passion to a role did he seem like a star. A shockingly changeable Henry II in Becket was resoundingly more forceful than any of the Anouilh's stage play interpreters such as Olivier and Anthony Quinn; O'Toole followed this regal triumph with a robust revisit to the same king in The Lion in Winter, even if that stage comedy was misinterpreted on film as a melodrama. Oddly touching in two deteriorative musicals made bearable by his genius (Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Man of La Mancha), he compensated for commonplace flops in the seventies by balancing them with exemplary turns such as his perfectly nuanced hit man who just misses assassinating Der Fuhrer in Rogue Male, and as the nutty Earl of Gurney, who believes he is Christ but whose psychological cure transforms him into Jack the Ripper. Consummately hilarious and unsettling, this rabid satire is the movie Clockwork Orange pretends to be. A self-proclaimed vocational drinker as well as actor, O'Toole never set much store by his movie star visage and did not look back when character roles started rolling in. He superbly incarnated the concept of the film director as mini-God in the masterpiece, The Stunt Man, and was a comedic cyclone as the dipsomaniac has-been Alan Swann, pulling himself together for his biggest fan in the charming My Favorite Year.

Since that peak, the life seems to have been boiled out of him. As his physical decline became more and more pronounced, O'Toole retreated to self-parody which may be copacetic with Supergirl but certainly does not sit too well with Henry Higgins in Pygmalion. One still hopes inspiration will fire him up for more than showy displays of mellifluousness. Unapologetic about the way he has lived his life, the hell-raising Irishman may rebound with performances that do not rely on vocal tricks and mannerisms; after all, he is a man brave enough to have continued performing Macbeth after being savaged by the London critics. Even his ruined grandeur is spectacular and belongs to another risk-taking age when larger-than-life personalities ruled the stage and screen. Unfortunately, the nagging doubt persists that this flamboyant star's passion for acting may be as ravaged as his once-considerable physical beauty.

—Robert Pardi

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"O'Toole, Peter." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"O'Toole, Peter." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/otoole-peter

"O'Toole, Peter." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved June 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/otoole-peter

O'Toole, Peter

Peter O'Toole (Peter Seamus O'Toole), 1932–2013, British actor, b. Connemara, Ireland, grad. Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London (1955). A classical stage actor, he appeared (1955–58) with the Bristol Old Vic, debuted in London in 1956, and played a variety of Shakespearean roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Tall, handsome, and charismatic, he made his screen debut in The Savage Innocents (1959) and catapulted to stardom with his portrayal of T. E. Lawrence in David Lean's desert epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He was a major star of the 1960s and early 70s, winning praise for performances in motion pictures ranging from historical drama to high comedy. Among his outstanding films are Becket (1964), Lord Jim (1965), The Lion in Winter (1968), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982), The Last Emperor (1987), Fairytale—A True Story (1997), and Venus (2003). He also appeared in a number of television dramas.

See his autobiography (2 vol., 1993–97); biographies by M. Freedland (1982) and N. Wapshott (1983).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"O'Toole, Peter." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"O'Toole, Peter." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/otoole-peter

"O'Toole, Peter." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/otoole-peter

OToole, Peter

O'Toole, Peter (1932– ) Irish stage and film actor. O'Toole's stage performances (1955) as Shylock and Hamlet were exhilarating. He gained an Academy nomination for best actor in his film debut in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Other Oscar nominations include Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye Mr Chips (1969), and The Ruling Class (1972). O'Toole's career revived with further nominated performances in The Stunt Man (1980) and My Favorite Year (1982).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"OToole, Peter." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"OToole, Peter." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/otoole-peter

"OToole, Peter." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved June 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/otoole-peter