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Monday, December 16, 2013

"I am not an actor. I'm a movie star!" - Peter O'Toole as Alan Swann in "My Favorite Year"

Peter O'Toole, considered by many the embodiment of the post-World War Two British actor who combined classical training with intense emotion, died December 14 at the age of 81.

Born to Irish parents in Northern England (although he would in later years claim the Emerald Isle his birthplace), Peter Seamus O'Toole originally apprenticed to be a newspaper reporter before being drafted into military service. In 1952 he entered London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Among his classmates were future stars Alan Bates and Albert Finney. After nearly a decade of stage and television work O'Toole was tapped by director David Lean to star in his epic "Lawrence of Arabia." (in Merrick Library's DVD collection).

Peter O'Toole's portrayal of the controversial T.E, Lawrence won him a Golden Globe Award as New Star of the Year. He would capture three more Golden Globes for his work in "Becket" (playing opposite drinking buddy Richard Burton), "The Lion in Winter" and a musical version of James Hilton's novel "Goodbye Mister Chips."

O'Toole would be nominated eight times for an Academy Award. The last was for the 2006 film "Venus" (among the Merrick DVDs), portraying an aging actor in love with a woman fifty years his junior. He would be given a Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 2003.  In recent years O'Toole was also praised for his voice work as food critic Anton Ego in the 2007 animated comedy "Ratatouille." (also among the Merrick DVDs).

In 1982 Peter O'Toole portrayed carousing former matinee idol Alan Swann in the film comedy "My Favorite Year." Forced to appear in a live 1950s television show to settle accounts with the IRS, Swann at one point panics and utters this now famous line: "I'm not an actor. I'm a movie star!" Three decades after that utterance, many film fans consider Peter Seamus O'Toole to be both.

In addition to the films already cited, Merrick Library also showcases Mr. O'Toole's talents in the following DVDs:

The Tudors: Season Two

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