Peter O’Toole has died, surprisingly at the age of 81, not 41 — and aren’t we lucky for the delay.

He rose to great fame as Lawrence of Arabia:

From Lawrence of Arabia, the officers’ bar scene:

When director David Lean was casting the lead in Lawrence Of Arabia in 1959, he favoured O’Toole, but producer Sam Spiegel had reservations because of his reputation.
Having seen his screen test, however, he had to admit they’d found their Lawrence.
Lawrence Of Arabia occupied O’Toole for two years, filming in seven different countries.

By the end of it, he’d lost 2st, received third-degree burns, sprained both ankles, torn ligaments in both his hip and thigh, dislocated his spine, broken his thumb, sprained his neck and been concussed twice.

But his extraordinary performance made him a star. Lawrence Of Arabia was a world-wide smash when it opened in 1962 and was hailed as one of cinema’s true masterpieces.

“I woke up one morning to find I was famous,” he said. “I bought a white Rolls-Royce and drove down Sunset Boulevard, wearing dark specs and a white suit, waving like the Queen Mum.”

“Nobody took any f***ing notice, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

There was only one Peter O’Toole, a wee insight into his essence:

On racetracks, green is considered unlucky. To be disobedient in a way that can’t be seen, I wear green socks. I have since I was fourteen.

Was he a great actor?  (Who cares ;):

Was O’Toole a great actor? Some said so – not least those who watched him grow up at the Bristol Old Vic in the 1950s. Did he sometimes stray into misguidedness or grotesquerie? Did he occasionally seem “unwell”? He is remembered for the disaster that was his Macbeth at the London Old Vic in 1980 – a performance that sold more steadily the more furiously it was debunked. But that was half the point to being O’Toole. He was a phenomenon and, night to night, moment to moment, you might shift your opinion as he zigzagged in the crosswinds of his own turbulent imagination. He coincided with the method, or realism in acting, but he ignored it.

Today, representing the family, his daughter Kate said (yes she was named after Katherine Hepburn, his queen in The Lion in Winter):

“His family are very appreciative and completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us, during this unhappy time.”

Kate adds, “Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts. In due course there will be a memorial filled with song and good cheer, as he would have wished.”

He’ll regret not being there even if he was the last man standing.

So O’Toole is the last surviving British reprobate. “The common denominator of all my friends is that they’re dead,” he said.

“There was a time when I felt like a perpendicular cuckoo clock, popping up and down in pulpits saying: ‘Fear no more the heat o’ the sun.’ They were dying like flies.”

But like all the other hellraisers, he has never once regretted the mistakes he made.

“I loved the drinking, and waking up in the morning to find I was in Mexico,” he said. “It was part and parcel of being an idiot.”

First clip via @SaintPetersblog