The utter legend that is Peter O'Toole has announced his retirement from acting at the age of 79, saying, "I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell." I have been in love with Mr O'Toole since his lithe, bambi eyed gorgeousness in How To Steal A Million. The combination of him, Audrey, Paris and the wonderful plot make it one of my favourite films of all time. If you haven't seen it, I demand that you do, right now. I also found him creepily attractive in Venus especially when he recites Shakespeare to the chavvy teenage girl (Sonnet 18, "Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day"). In an interview with National Public Radio in December 2006, O'Toole revealed that he knows all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets. A self-described romantic, he regards the sonnets as among the finest collection of English poems, reading them daily...alas not to me.
I found this and had to share it...Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris at the rugby. Do watch til the end. I plan to grow old like this.
Before he gave up drinking for health reasons, the Lawrence of Arabia thesp ( also wonderful, but put aside a rainy afternoon, it's nearly four hours long) was famous for the unbridled excess he enjoyed with his cohorts, Richard Harris, Richard Burton and Oliver Reed. To celebrate a career like none other and one of of my great loves, here are a few of the great man's finest off-stage moments, some of which sound too good to be true...
* After being cast as a cockney sergeant in The Long and the Short and the Tall, which opened in London in 1959, O'Toole was understudied by Michael Caine, who he took out one night to a restaurant. Caine awoke in a strange flat and asked O'Toole what the time was. He allegedly replied, "Never mind what time it is, what f***ing day is it?" Evidently it was 5pm. Two days later.
* Due to his erratic driving, a number of people refused to be a passenger in O'Toole's car. He attempted to drive his future wife, actress Sian Phillips, to Rome for a last-minute holiday. They ended up in Yugoslavia.
* When filming 1960's Kidnapped, he became friends with the Australian actor Peter Finch, also a fond boozer. When they were refused a drink after closing time during a session at an Irish pub, they wrote a cheque to buy the pub so they could have another drink. Having sobered up the next day, they rushed back to cancel their purchase.
* They ended up befriending the landlord, even attending his funeral. While sobbing as the casket was lowered, the pair soon realised they were at the wrong funeral. Their pal was being buried 100 yards away.
* While filming a scene on a lake for 1968's The Lion In Winter, O'Toole caught his finger in a boating accident, taking the tip off. Back on shore, he dipped the detached part into a glass of brandy then pushed it back on, wrapping it in a poultice. Removing the bandage weeks later, he realised he had put it on the wrong way and blamed the brandy for his mishap.
* When an assistant went to fetch the actor from his dressing room on the set of 1968's Great Catherine, he found no sign of life but a television blaring out horse racing that was going on nearby. The camera zoomed in, and there was O'Toole, cheering on the steeds. A car was sent to bring him back to work.
* In the 1970s, he reportedly went out for lunch with friends, accompanied by several bottles of wine. Later on that evening the group decided to take in a play but when they got to their seats, O'Toole realised he was supposed to be in the show.
* O'Toole regularly had to break into his house because of his refusal to carry keys (he never carried a wallet or wore a watch either). He had to explain to police, on more than one occasion, why he was climbing through windows.
Mr O'Toole, I salute you.