Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Irish actor Peter O’Toole waves goodbye!

Don’t worry. This is not an obituary. It seems that Peter O’Toole, now 80, has decided to lay down his metaphorical trowel and retire from the boards. ”It’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to …

Wed, Jul 11, 2012, 15:09

   

Don’t worry. This is not an obituary. It seems that Peter O’Toole, now 80, has decided to lay down his metaphorical trowel and retire from the boards. ”It’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s stay,” he said. “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.”

Way to dress like a guest murderer in Columbo.

For goodness sake, Peter. You still have the chance to break the greatest duck in Oscar history. As everybody knows, Mr O’Toole holds the record for most number of acting nods without a win: he has been disappointed on eight occasions. But they love oldies now. This year, at 83, Christopher Plummer became the oldest male actor ever to win an Academy Award. Max Von Sydow, who sat disappointed in the auditorium, was the same age. I reckon that, if some bright spark finds an awards-worthy role, Peter could be lured back to the sound stage.

Until then, we can continue worrying about his nationality. The status of O’Toole’s Irishness has long been a subject of controversy. Actually, that’s not quite true. His dad was Irish, so he is absolutely entitled to hold a harp-bedecked passport and identify himself with the tricolour. What remains in dispute is the place of his birth. For many years, he claimed that he was born in “Connemara”, but there was always a suspicion that he came into the world in Leeds. Such is the uncertainty that minor edit wars have taken place on Wikipedia with malcontents repeatedly changing “Irish actor” to “British actor”. Anyway, if he wants to be Irish, we are pleased to have him. He may, in later years, have become too fond of prime ham, but O’Toole has always added greatly to the gaity of nations. Seek him out in Peter Medak’s underappreciated The Ruling Class. It’s one of the great anti-1960s flicks.

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