Hollywood Legend and 'Lawrence of Arabia' Star Peter O'Toole Dies at 81

Peter O'Toole first took to the stage at the young age of 17, and today, the actor has died at the age of 81 in a hospital in London. The actor, who was best known for his role in Lawrence of Arabia, quit acting last year, saying: "I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell." But fans of O'Toole's will be unable to commit to dry-eyes in the news of his passing.

The Irish actor recieved eight Oscar nominations over the course of his long career, and in 2003, O'Toole received an honorary Academy Award. However, he he initially refused to accept for a very specific reason. In a letter to the Academy, O'Toole asked them to please delay giving him the award until he turned 80, because the actor was "still in the game and might win the bugger outright". (Anyone who uses the word "bugger" surely has our Oscar vote!)

In the 1970s, O'Toole overcame a cancer diagnosis, an illness following a hard-partying decade with other Hollywood heartthrobs in the 1960s. “We heralded the ‘60s,” he once said. “Me, [Richard] Burton, Richard Harris; we did in public what everyone else did in private then, and does for show now. We drank in public, we knew about pot.”

In a statement from Ireland's president Michael D. Higgins, he said of the actor:

In a long list of leading roles on stage and in film, Peter brought an extraordinary standard to bear as an actor. He had a deep interest in literature and a love of Shakespearean sonnets in particular...I was privileged to know him as a friend since 1969. I spent part of 1979 in Clifden where we met almost daily and all of us who knew him in the West will miss his warm humour and generous friendship.

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