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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 8 December, 2019

Legendary film star Peter O’Toole dies aged 81

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to the man he described as a friend and “one of the giants of film and theatre”.

Peter O'Toole in London in 1980.
Peter O'Toole in London in 1980.
Image: AP Photo/Staff/Caulkin

Updated 7.59pm

PETER O’TOOLE, ONE of the most gifted actors of his generation, has died in a London hospital at the age of 81.

The actor found fame as the lead role in Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 and was critically acclaimed during his career spanning five decades on stage and screen.

His agent said tonight that he had died on Saturday at the Wellington hospital in London following a long illness.

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to his friend and said the world has lost “one of the giants of film and theatre”.

O’Toole was nominated for eight Academy Awards during his career but never won, making him the ignominious record holder for the most nods without a win. He did however receive an honorary Academy Award in 2003.

His most recent nomination was for the 2006 British film Venus, also gaining nominations for Goodbye Mr Chips (1969), The Lion in Winter (1968) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

He worked up until last year when he announced he was retiring from acting as he no longer had the heart for it, saying: “I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell”.

O’Toole was at times claimed as an Irish actor but uncertainty exists over his actual place of birth. In his autobiography, he notes he was either born in Connemara or else in Leeds.

President Higgins said he had known O’Toole since 1969 and had spent time with him in Galway a decade later.

“Sabina and 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 enjoying his friendship and humour,” he said.

“He was unsurpassed for the grace he brought to every performance on and off the stage”.

(Video: MoviesHistory/YouTube)

Originally published 6.20pm

Read: Peter O’Toole retires at 79, says he no longer has the heart for it >

Read: Irish actor Peter O’Toole leaves his mark on Hollywood, literally >

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