Actor Peter O'Toole, best known for his work in the 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia, passed away today at the age of 81. No cause of death was given at this time. Here's what his daughter, Kate O'Toole, had to say in a statement.
"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. 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. We will be happy to speak to you all then but in the meantime if you could give Peter O'Toole the respect he deserves and allow us to grieve privately we'd appreciate it. Thank you all again for your beautiful tributes - keep them coming."
Michael D. Higgins, the President of Ireland and friend to the late actor, also released the following statement.
"I have heard with great sadness of the passing of Peter O'Toole this weekend. Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre.
In a long list of leading roles on stage and in film, Peter brought an extraordinary standard to bear as an actor. He had a deep interest in literature and a love of Shakespearean Sonnets in particular.
While he was nominated as Best Actor for an Oscar eight times, and received a special Oscar from his peers, for his contribution to film, he was deeply committed to the stage.
Those who saw him play leading roles on the screen from Lawrence of Arabia in 1962, or through the role of Henry II in Becket, and The Lion in Winter, or through the dozens of films, will recognize a lifetime devoted to the art form of the camera.
Yet others may have have seen him on stage in London, New York, or Dublin where he performed at the Abbey with the late Donal McCann in Godot or at the Gaiety in the plays of Shaw and O'Casey. His performance in Shaw's plays was outstanding.
I was privileged to know him as a friend since 1969. I spent part of 1979 in Clifden where we met almost daily and all of us who knew him in the West will miss his warm humour and generous friendship.
To Kate, Pat, Lorcan and Sian my deepest sympathy. Sabinaand I and our Children will miss him, as will all those who saw him on screen or stage or had the privilege, as I had, of having his friendship and humour.
He was unsurpassed for the grace he brought to every performance on and off the stage."
The actor was born in Connemara, Country Galway, Ireland in 1932 and was raised in Leeds, England. He attended the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he performed with classmates such as Albert Finney, Alan Bates and Richard Harris. After performing on the stage at the Bristol Old Vic for several years, the actor made his feature film debut in 1960 with Kidnapped. Just two years later, director David Lean selected him to play the iconic T.E. Lawrence in the epic masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia, which earned him the first of his eight Oscar nominations for Best Actor. He was also nominated for roles in Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982) and Venus (2006). He also received an honorary Oscar in 2003 for his achievements.
In July 2012, the actor released a poignant statement, announcing his retirement from acting, which you can read below.
"It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won't come back. My professional acting life, stage and screen, has brought me public support, emotional fulfillment and material comfort. It has brought me together with fine people, good companions with whom I've shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits. However, it's my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one's stay. So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell."
The actor is survived by daughters Pat O'Toole, Kate O'Toole and his son Lorcan O'Toole.