Friday 20 April 2018

Peter O'Toole: It’s goodbye to the last of the Sixties hellraisers

Barry Egan recalls meeting the late actor Peter O'Toole (1932 - 2013), who made a virtue of 'conduct unbecoming'

Peter O’Toole in 2007. Photo: Brian Farrell
Peter O’Toole in 2007. Photo: Brian Farrell
Peter O'Toole
Peter O’Toole with Richard Harris. Photo: Phil Shephard-Lewis
File photo dated 22/12/1965 of Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole as a sad couple on a park bench during during location shooting in Paris for the film in new comedy 'How to Steal a Million Dollars and Live Happily Ever After'.
Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole on the set of ‘How to Steal a Million’. Photo: Terry O'Neill
Peter O'Toole in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. Photo: Popperfoto
Boy scout Peter O'Toole, aged 16, plays the bagpipes at a Scout Jamboree in Listowel in 1948
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

He scribbled a promise in his boyhood journals: "I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony." It was an oath Peter O'Toole kept until his death at 81 last weekend.

Some, like his old friend Richard Burton, called him "the most original actor to come out of Britain since the war". (O'Toole played the brutish Henry II in the film Becket with Burton in 1964.) Others simply called him the next Laurence Olivier.

Time magazine famously referred to his character in David Lean's masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia -- where a mad-eyed O'Toole charged on a camel across the Sahara with the Arab armies to capture the port of Aqaba from the Turks -- as possessing a "look of messianic determination".

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