Peter O'Toole

On this date in 1932, Peter O’Toole was born in Connemara, Ireland. When he was 16, he began working at the Yorkshire Evening News, but his journalism career was cut short when he was drafted into the Navy. O’Toole later attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he began acting in the theater. Starting in 1955, he spent three years apprenticing as a Shakespearean actor with Bristol Old Vic, a prominent theater company in Bristol, England, where he performed in over 70 productions. O’Toole acted in his first film, “The Savage Innocents,” in 1960. The role that brought him to fame was his portrayal of T.E. Lawrence in the 1962 classic “Lawrence of Arabia.” O’Toole has since starred in many other notable films, including “Becket” (1964), “The Lion in Winter” (1968), “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1969) and “The Stunt Man” (1980). He received eight Best Actor Oscar nominations, and in 2003 was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Oscar. O’Toole was married to actress Siân Phillips for about 20 years and had two children with her, actress Kate O’Toole, born in 1960, and Patricia O’Toole, born in 1963. He also has a son, Lorcan, born in 1983.

O’Toole described himself as a “retired Christian” to The New York Times in 2007, as well as during an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS in 2008. He told The New York Times that he prefers “an education and reading and facts” to faith. He added to Charlie Rose that he still reads the bible due to his love of language. In 1972, O’Toole played a delusional character who believed he was Jesus in the film “The Ruling Class.” During the film, O’Toole’s character says, “When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself.”

“I am a retired Christian.” 

—“Papal Robes, and Deference, Fit O’Toole Snugly,” The New York Times, July 26, 2007

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

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