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’Lawrence of Arabia’ star Peter O’Toole dead at 81

  • FILE In this  Monday, Jan. 22, 2007 file photo, British actor Peter O'Toole arrives for the British premiere of his latest film 'Venus' at a central London cinema, Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died, it was announced on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. He was 81.  (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

    FILE In this Monday, Jan. 22, 2007 file photo, British actor Peter O'Toole arrives for the British premiere of his latest film 'Venus' at a central London cinema, Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died, it was announced on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. He was 81. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

  • FILE - In this March 23, 2003 file photo, Actor Peter O'Toole accepts his honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during the 75th annual Academy Awards telecast in Los Angeles. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

    FILE - In this March 23, 2003 file photo, Actor Peter O'Toole accepts his honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during the 75th annual Academy Awards telecast in Los Angeles. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

  • FILE - In this April 11, 2011 file photo, Actor Peter O’Toole places his handprints in cement as he is honored during the TCM Classic Film Festival at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.  O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

    FILE - In this April 11, 2011 file photo, Actor Peter O’Toole places his handprints in cement as he is honored during the TCM Classic Film Festival at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

  • FILE - This 1965 file photo released by 20th Century Fox shows actor Peter O'Toole in a scene from "How to Steal a Million Dollars and Live Happily Ever After."  O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century-Fox)

    FILE - This 1965 file photo released by 20th Century Fox shows actor Peter O'Toole in a scene from "How to Steal a Million Dollars and Live Happily Ever After." O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century-Fox)

  • FILE - In this undated photo Actor Peter O'Toole is shown.  O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/File)

    FILE - In this undated photo Actor Peter O'Toole is shown. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/File)

  • FILE - In this Dec. 23, 1980 file photo, actor Peter O'Toole smokes during an interview at his London home. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin, file)

    FILE - In this Dec. 23, 1980 file photo, actor Peter O'Toole smokes during an interview at his London home. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin, file)

  • FILE - In this March 23, 2003 file photo, Peter O'Toole appears backstage without his Oscar after receiving the Academy Award's Honorary Award during the 75th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles.  O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

    FILE - In this March 23, 2003 file photo, Peter O'Toole appears backstage without his Oscar after receiving the Academy Award's Honorary Award during the 75th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • FILE In this  Monday, Jan. 22, 2007 file photo, British actor Peter O'Toole arrives for the British premiere of his latest film 'Venus' at a central London cinema, Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died, it was announced on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. He was 81.  (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
  • FILE - In this March 23, 2003 file photo, Actor Peter O'Toole accepts his honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during the 75th annual Academy Awards telecast in Los Angeles. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
  • FILE - In this April 11, 2011 file photo, Actor Peter O’Toole places his handprints in cement as he is honored during the TCM Classic Film Festival at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.  O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)
  • FILE - This 1965 file photo released by 20th Century Fox shows actor Peter O'Toole in a scene from "How to Steal a Million Dollars and Live Happily Ever After."  O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century-Fox)
  • FILE - In this undated photo Actor Peter O'Toole is shown.  O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/File)
  • FILE - In this Dec. 23, 1980 file photo, actor Peter O'Toole smokes during an interview at his London home. O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin, file)
  • FILE - In this March 23, 2003 file photo, Peter O'Toole appears backstage without his Oscar after receiving the Academy Award's Honorary Award during the 75th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles.  O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81. O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at a hospital following a long illness. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Known on the one hand for his starring role in Lawrence of Arabia, leading tribesmen in daring attacks across the desert wastes, and on the other for his headlong charges into drunken debauchery, Peter O’Toole was one of the most magnetic, charismatic and fun figures in British acting.

O’Toole, who died Saturday at age 81 after a long bout of illness, was fearsomely handsome, with burning blue eyes and a penchant for hard living, which long outlived his decision to give up alcohol.

Broadcaster Michael Parkinson told Sky News television it was hard to be too sad about his passing.

“Peter didn’t leave much of life unlived, did he?” he said, chuckling.

A reformed – but unrepentant – hell-raiser, O’Toole long suffered from ill health. Always thin, he had grown wraithlike in later years, his famously handsome face eroded by years of outrageous drinking.

But nothing diminished his flamboyant manner and candor.

“If you can’t do something willingly and joyfully, then don’t do it,” he once said. “If you give up drinking, don’t go moaning about it; go back on the bottle. Do. As. Thou. Wilt.”

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