RIP, Peter O’Toole

There was very little he was in, cinematically, that he didn’t make so much better than it would have been without him. Even the crap films, of which, alas, there were a fair number in the 1980s. But then again, there was also My Favorite Year. Which was so good. If you’ve not seen it, see it. See it now.

52 Comments on “RIP, Peter O’Toole”

  1. One of my favorite actors so many films, and since I’ve a particular weakness for “caper” films, my favorite of Mr O’Toole’s was “How to Steal a Million,” co-starring with Audrey Hepburn. A stylish bit of fluff, that film, made wonderful by the talent and charm of two real pros. And, as you say…”My Favorite Year.”

    I’d put Mr O’Toole into the same category as Cary Grant — the only two of their kind — two actors whose good looks and immense personal charm concealed vast talent from the casual onlooker, and from Hollywood’s Academy, too. I must go and watch one of his movies now.

  2. I had the chance to shake his hand at a book signing, and he had the bluest eyes I have ever seen, as well as a very warm smile, as he thanked me for purchasing his book and being a fan.

  3. I did not see Lawrence of Arabia until I was well into my adulthood and only after wondering why everyone was so ga -ga over it.

    I get it. I got it.

  4. My warmest memory of Peter O’Toole is in “Goodbye Mr. Chips.” Rest in peace, and thanks for all the great films.

  5. Richard Rush’s “The Stunt Man” (1980) was the first date for my (now) wife and I. Peter O’Toole playing a madcap director is magnificent.

  6. Oh. “Man Friday”. “What’s New, Pussycat”. Oh, and “King Ralph”. And “How To Steal A Million”. Much fun in very different movies. Thank you, Mr. O’Toole. Farewell.

  7. “My dear fellow, what I choose to do with my schlong is my business.”

    Words to live by. R.I.P., Mr. O’Toole.

  8. So much great work to choose from, but I’ve always had a soft spot for The Lion in Winter. Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. What else is there to say?

  9. Eleanor: Did you ever love me?
    Henry: No.
    Eleanor: Good. That make this much pleasanter.

  10. Got to agree – Peter O’Toole was always worth watching & My Favourite Year is a much under-rated stroke of genius. Us Brits of a certain age (ok old) also have a fondness for The Ruling Class movie – sublime madness!

  11. I first saw Lawrence of Arabia when I was 9 and didn’t understand all of the politics, but was so suitably and thoroughly impressed that I looked up everything I could on Lawrence and dragged my dad to see it a second time, two years later (on the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake as it turned out.).

    “It damn well hurts!”

    “Certainly it hurts.”

    “Well, what’s the trick then?”

    “The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.”

  12. I am amazed at how few people have seen, and how little mention there is of, “My Favorite Year”. It is as entertaining a movie as you could ask for and Mr. O’toole is just wonderful in it. He does shine in some bad movies but sparkles in great roles.

  13. Loved him in Lion in Winter. Thought he perfectly embodied a man in his late 50’s: just watch one of the first scenes when he’s lumbering up a hill, stiff-legged and kind of staggering. Then I found out he was one of the youngest members of the cast, older only than the young woman playing Princess Alix and the young man playing Prince John.


  14. Thank you for this post. I gasped when I saw the news this morning – yes, even though he was elderly and had been ill for a while. I don’t think I saw any of the clunkers he was in, and his non-clunkers could leave me in a trance. “The Lion in Winter” is one of my favorite movies of all time. “The Stunt Man,” which didn’t do as well as it should have, for some reason did *very* well in Seattle, so I was able to see it multiple times; it remains my favorite trickster movie.

  15. I developed a mad crush on Peter O’Toole when I first saw How to Steal A Million. It blossomed into full on love after the Lion in Winter. The Ruling Class is wonderful, and I agree with our host that Creator is saved by the talents of this fine actor. Heck, I even loved Murphy’s War. I loved how he seemed to devour a role – he could be swooningly romantic, rakishly bad, convincingly mad, and dashingly chivalrous; sometimes all in the same character.

  16. Tom Laughlin, of the Billy Jack movies in the ’70’s, also died last week, at age 82. He is survived by his wife of 60 years–quite unusual for Hollywood.

  17. My Favorite Year is one of my favorite movies too. The fight scene near the end is a classic.

  18. As I read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, O’Toole was there at my side. Smiling, helping me understand the politics, and being enigmatic. I never had a better companion.

  19. “The Lion in Winter” is my favorite movie of all time, followed closely by “My Favorite Year”. It’s a very sad day for stage and screen. RIP, Mr. O’Toole, you will be missed. :-(

  20. “My Favorite Year” was the first of his films that I saw (I suspect that’s the case for a lot of folks in my age range).

    (Also, R.I.P., Tom Laughlin. Not in the same league, but an actor and writer who entertained me and channeled some righteous anger).

  21. “Becket”, “The Lion in Winter”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, and “My Favorite Year” are all favorites. And, even though I’m under no illusions that it’s, y’know, good, I do have a soft spot for “Club Paradise”, too.

  22. Oh, dear. “Lawrence of Arabia” was the first movie I ever remember taking myself to see, making my own way to the theater and buying my own ticket to sit in a half-empty movie house (it was an early afternoon show) and stare at the screen in stunned awe. When the movie was over, I wanted to go right back in and see it again–the first time I’d ever felt that way, too. RIP, Mr. O’Toole. You have left us a remarkable legacy.

  23. “What’s New Pussycat” – Crazy fun.

    “My Favorite Year” – Great fun.

    “Lawrence of Arabia” – Great movie.

    All on my list of favorites. Well done Mr. O’Toole. You will be missed.

  24. I can’t remember if I saw him first in Beckett or Lion in Winter. Both wonderful! He made mediocre movies like Club Paradise sparkle as well, but My Favorite Year is indeed my favorite. Because why?

    Lil (Selma Diamond): This (restroom) is for ladies only!
    Alan Swann (O’Toole, zipping): So is this ma’am, but every now and then I have to run a little water through it.

  25. Peter O’Toole was one of those people you could not believe was mortal. So sad and strange he is gone.

    When I think of Tom Laughlin, I really can only remember this from the great Paul Simon:
    I want three scoops: vanilla, chocolate and stawberry.
    If the world was more like this ice cream cone, Billy Paul wouldn’t have to kill so many people.

  26. When I was twelve, my father took me to see “Lawrence of Arabia” when it was re-released. I still haven’t thanked him properly for that; it was one of the most amazing movies I’ve ever seen. And O’Toole was one of the most amazing actors, ever.

  27. I think the tweet from pourmecoffee said it perfectly:

    “World now significantly less suave. RIP Peter O’Toole.”

  28. The Lion in Winter is my fav holiday film and will be extra poignant this year. Also, The Ruling Class! One of the funniest films ever made. Was on Hulu a few months ago: y’all should watch it.

  29. I loved My Favorite Year and all the other movies mentioned and I went to see Caligula because he was in it. That was a surprise!

  30. Peter O’Toole playing Peter O’Toole in a movie about Peter O’Toole… that sums up “My Favorite Year” in one sentence, and explains to the uninitiated exactly why it was such a fun movie!

    The Afterlife is now a better place than it was last month.

  31. Saw Lawrence of Arabia at the old Macarthur Theater in DC. BIg, wide, screen. Man, what a great movie. They still don’t make HDTVs big enough for it.

    “Creator” was a fun, fluffy, little movie.

  32. From the Lion in Winter:

    Henry: You know, I hope we never die!

    Eleanor: So do I.

    Henry: Do you think there’s any chance of it?

    -Not for either of them.

  33. Costumer: “Hey! This [the women’s restroom] is for ladies only!”

    Alan Swann: (unzipping) “This, too is for ladies only. But occsionally, I need to run a little water through it.”

  34. I watch The Lion in Winter every Christmas. It reminds me of my family Christmases growing up.

    It will have special significance this year (as I believe someone said upthread).

    I didn’t know he was younger than most of the cast! That’s amazing.

  35. When I first heard, I posted the following: “Normally, I don’t watch the remake of The Lion in Winter because it’s a made-for-TV remake, but tonight I didn’t watch it in honor of Peter O’Toole.”

  36. His voice work as the food critic Anton Ego in Ratatouille was wonderful, too

    Oh. My. God. I never made the connection. I found myself mostly annoyed throughout Ratatouille, so maybe I wasn’t paying attention. But how could I have missed that voice….

  37. Xtifer, I was pleasantly surprised by the remake of The Lion in Winter. Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of Henry is, of course, very different from O’Toole’s, but I found it excellent. I wasn’t impressed by Glenn Close as Eleanor, but she wasn’t embarrassing, just miscast perhaps. I forget who played Alais, but she showed spirit that the one in the movie didn’t. I always thought that was a wasted role, because Alais is nothing but a pawn, and however many times she makes noises about being troublesome, she never is. She doesn’t advance the plot at all. But the one in the remake at least makes you think she might. The movie version is one of my favorite movies ever (despite some pretty ridiculous dialogue that works only if delivered by strong actors). I have seen it numerous times, and I have studied the screenplay for plot development. I never thought I would like the TV remake, but I ended up buying a used DVD of it to watch again.

  38. “Lawrence of Arabia” was the first movie I ever saw, and Tiny Lurkertype imprinted on him like a baby goose. I have seen great films with him (Lion in Winter, My Favorite Year, Stunt Man), and terrible ones, and enjoyed him in all of them.

    I shall wassail for him. “World now significantly less suave” indeed.

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