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Peter O'Toole

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Peter O'Toole

Nominated seven times for Best Actor Oscars, Peter O'Toole is one of the greatest classic actors ever to grace the silver screen.  In his more than 40-year career in film, he has proven his gifts in drama, comedy, tragedy, romance and even a few musicals, consistently impressing audiences with his prolific talents and good looks.  In 2003, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him an honorary Oscar for having "provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters."  That he has.


Although not his first film, O'Toole earned his first Oscar nomination for his performance in the title role of David Lean's World War I desert epic, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962).  This Academy Award-winning Best Picture of the year made O'Toole an international star overnight and remains one of his most memorable films.

O'Toole and Burton in BECKET

Two years later, O'Toole earned further acclaim for his performance as King Henry II opposite Richard Burton's Thomas Becket in BECKET (1964), an adaptation of the play by Jean Anouilh about the volatile friendship and political relationship between the medieval English king and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Also featuring English Shakespearean stage legend John Gielgud, BECKET earned twelve Oscar nominations including Best Actor nods for both O'Toole and Burton as well as a Best Picture nomination.  BECKET lost out in both categories to MY FAIR LADY (1964) however, and its English star Rex Harrison.

Video Clip:

Click here "An idea" with Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton (a .AVI file courtesy MPI Home Video).

(For help opening the above file, visit the plug-ins page.)

Memorable Quotations:

  • "I'm suddenly very intelligent. It probably comes from making love to that French girl last night." --as King Henry II in BECKET (1964).
  • "There. That's the Great Seal of England. Don't lose it. Without the seal, there's no more England, and we'll all have to pack up and go back to Normandy." --as King Henry II in BECKET (1964).
  • "Becket is the only intelligent man in my kingdom, and he's against me!" --as King Henry II in BECKET (1964).
  • Click here"You're the boss.  Just do as I tell you." --as Simon Dermott in HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (1966) (a .WAV file).
  • "For someone who started lying just recently, you're showing a real flair." --as Simon Dermott in HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (1966).
  • "I marvel at you after all these years, the democratic drawbridge going down for anyone. " --as King Henry II in THE LION IN WINTER (1968).
  • "I haven't kept the Great Bitch in the keep for ten years out of passionate attachment." --as King Henry II in THE LION IN WINTER (1968).
  • "Sleep, and dream of me with croutons -- Henri à la mode!" --as King Henry II in THE LION IN WINTER (1968).
O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn in HOW TO STEAL A MILLION

Taking a temporary break from period dramas, O'Toole scored a huge hit with Audrey Hepburn in William Wyler's romantic comedy and crime caper, HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (1966).  In perhaps my favorite of O'Toole's performances, he plays a "society burglar" who helps Hepburn steal a fake statue from a heavily guarded French art museum.  No Oscar nominations; just a lot of fun.


Click here "Main Title" (clip) by John Williams (a .MP3 file).


A very different kind of comedy but another of my absolute favorite movies, THE LION IN WINTER (1968), starred O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn as (once again) King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, respectively, and both earned Oscar nominations for their outstanding performances. (Hepburn won the Best Actress statuette, but O'Toole again came up empty.)

Medieval family feuding at its finest, THE LION IN WINTER marked the screen debuts of Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton and also features an Oscar-winning score by John Barry.

Music Clips from THE LION IN WINTER (1968):

Click here"Main Title" (clip) by John Barry (a .MP3 file courtesy Sony/Columbia).
Click here"Eleanor's Arrival" (clip) by John Barry (a .MP3 file courtesy Sony/Columbia).
Click here"Media Vita in Morte Sumus" (clip) by John Barry (a .MP3 file courtesy Sony/Columbia).

(For help opening any of the multimedia files, visit the plug-ins page.)

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Last updated: October 19, 2010.
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