Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Remembering Peter O'Toole

Oh how I adored him!

His acting was flawless, and before the drinking and hard living ravaged him, so were his looks.

But never mind, he was fabulous, beginning with Lawrence of Arabia straight on till Venus.
My personal favourite was he and Katherine Hepburn duking it out in The Lion in Winter.

What a life, what a talent.  I thought - he's the last of those rascals who eschewed political correctness for living a BIG LIFE, not all of it pretty, but no apologies, thank you very much.

I am not the only one to think that and found this article in The Guardian.

Raise a glass to Peter O'Toole, last of the 60s hellraisers

The actor was one of a generation of hard-drinking stars who gloried in their wild exploits and lost weekends
Peter O'Toole laughing outside pub
Peter O'Toole at the Coach and Horses pub in Soho at the time of his stage triumph in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, playing the title role of Bernard, his old drinking buddy. Photograph: Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standa/Rex
Peter O'Toole was the last of the hell-raising actors who ushered in the swinging 60s and was almost as famous for his drinking as for his dazzling eyes
As with his peers and sometime drinking buddies Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed, much of his best work seems to have been done under the influence.

"We heralded the 60s," he once said. "Me, 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."
Both Burton and O'Toole won Oscar nominations for Becket but said they were drunk throughout most of the shooting.

While shooting The Lion in Winter, O'Toole cut off the top of his finger in a boating accident. He dropped the finger in some brandy before pushing it back into place and wrapping with a bandage. Removing the bandage off weeks later he found he'd put it back the wrong way round.

Rising with a new generation of actors, O'Toole's drinking buddies included men who would go on to become acting legends in their own right. Michael Caine was his understudy for the 1959 play The Long and the Short and the Tall at the Royal Court Theatre. One night after the show O'Toole invited the then unknown actor out for dinner.

"Was there a wildest weekend that you remember?" chat show host Jay Leno once asked Caine. "There was a wildest weekend that I don't remember," Caine replied, referring to what followed.
Caine said that after the dinner he had woken up in a strange flat. The last thing he remembered was eating a plate of eggs and chips. "What time is it?" asked Caine. "Never mind what time it is," said O'Toole. "What fucking day is it?" It turned out that it was five o'clock in the afternoon two days later.
Back at the theatre, the stage manager informed the pair they had been banned from the restaurant for life. Caine wondered what they had done. "Never ask what you did. It's better not to know," said O'Toole.

O'Toole and Peter Finch, the Australian actor and another heavy drinker, were once refused a drink in a pub in Ireland because it was after closing time. The stars wrote out a cheque to buy the pub. The landlord never cashed it and the three became friends.

After the landlord's death O'Toole and Finch were invited to the funeral and stood sobbing as their friend was lowered into the ground only to realise that they were at the wrong funeral – their friend was being buried 100 yards away.

Even before he was famous, O'Toole was generating classic drinking tales. As a drama student he lived on a barge which sank after too many people came to one of his parties.

In later life the star had to give up drinking due to ill health but the greatest acting triumph of his later years was playing another notorious drunk, and O'Toole drinking buddy, Spectator columnist Jeffrey Bernard in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell.

"I loved the drinking, and waking up in the morning to find I was in Mexico," O'Toole said in Robert Sellers' book Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed. "It was part and parcel of being an idiot."

He once famously said:

The good parts are the people who don't make do.
They're the interesting people. Lear doesn't make do.

Neither did you, Peter. Neither did you...


  1. My God, he was excruciatingly handsome when he was young.
    That story about Michael Caine had me giggling away, there was something about 'plate of eggs and chips' said in Micahel Caine's voices that is so funny!

    1. I love Michael Caine! I have never understood why people put pictures of people in obituaries when they are old and full of rack and ruin! I used lovely pictures of my parents, when they were younger and healthier, because I am sure that they loved those days! Peter O'Toole was drop dead gorgeous, wasn't he??? We won't see his like again - an erudite bad boy!

  2. What stories he had to tell; a live well lived!

  3. I love the funeral story. He was a looker and obviously quite a drinker.

    1. I think it you looked up alcohol in the dictionary you might find his photo!

  4. They bred them a little different back then no? He was an actor and a character in his own right which I loved. Lion in Winter is also one of my faves - my english teacher let us watch it which I am thankful for. RIP Mr O'Toole.

    1. I loved him during those years - so virile!

  5. I've never heard the finger story! Whoa...

    He's lucky he lived as long as he did! Those eyes.

  6. Mmmm I am not sure what to write it... I have very mixed feeling about people who have heavy drinking habits having had an alcoholic grandfather... Whenever I laugh to those kind of stories, it is a forced laugh... It seems I can't step back.

    1. Steph - I can certainly relate - I am sure we all have alcoholics in our families. I am sure his children have somewhat different perspectives. However, I think it was a certain type that got bred like that, they marched around trying to live like the giants people told them they were!

  7. I had no idea he was so handsome, the story of the finger is crazy!
    I read that in later years, once he was sober, he had full custody of his son (born 1983) and really enjoyed the role of parent, I guess he reformed his idiotic ways in the end!

    1. I had read that too. And yet, there is something oddly invigorating to me about that era. I would not want to live it in real life, but still...


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