(LONDON) — Irish actor Peter O’Toole, best known for his role as T.E. Lawrence in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, has died at the age of 81. O’Toole died “peacefully” Saturday, after having been ill “for some time, his agent confirmed to ABC News Radio.
While a series of serious illnesses in the 1970s, partly caused by his heavy drinking, threatened to destroy O’Toole’s career, he was able to recover, and made a comeback in films like The Stunt Man and My Favorite Year. Both those films earned him Academy Award nominations, two of the eight he would receive in his career. In fact, he held the record for most acting nominations without a win.
O’Toole was eventually honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 2003 Academy Awards, which he graciously accepted, joking during his acceptance speech, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot.” He also won three Golden Globe awards and an Emmy.
O’Toole was most recently nominated for an Oscar for his role in the 2006 film Venus. In 2007, he lent his voice to the animated Disney/Pixar hit Ratatouille. He also appeared in the popular Showtime series The Tudors.
In July of 2012, he announced that he was retiring from acting, saying, “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.” He said he planned to spend his retirement working on a third volume of his memoirs.
In a statement, his daughter Kate O’Toole said the family is “completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us, during this unhappy time.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Chandrika Narayan, CNN