McCarthy O’Toole

A fond but not entirely reverent remembrance of Peter O’Toole by Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy is worth a read. O’Toole wrote two books about his life before he made it big-time — Loitering With Intent: The Child and Loitering With Intent: The Apprentice. McCarthy laments that O’Toole never wrote about his career from Lawrence of Arabia onward.

Everyone wrote yesterday that O’Toole was unfairly robbed of a Best Actor Oscar for his T.E. Lawrence portrayal. But the real robbery happened in April ’65 when his career-peak performance as Henry II in Becket lost to Rex Harrison‘s Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. That’s the Academy for you.

McCarthy saw O’Toole play Professor Higgins, badly, in a 1987 London stage presentation of Pygmalion. I saw O’Toole in that reviled Macbeth at the Old Vic in 1980. It was slow and turgid and altogether horrid, and the audience all but booed at the curtain call. The look on O’Toole’s face at that moment was ghastly in itself. I felt sorry for him. I wanted to comfort him on some level. All such thoughts went out the window when I interviewed O’Toole in his Hampstead Heath home two or three days later.

  • Steven Gaydos

    I saw that Pygmalion and assumed the O’Toole who knocked about, fumbling lines, was finished, through. Then I saw him onstage no so long after in the one-man show JEFFREY BERNARD IS UNWELL. Greatest night of theater in my life. He was captivating, flawless, hilarious, unforgettable. The DVD of that show is selling for about $1100 bucks on ebay.

    • alynch3

      Or you could watch it for free on YouTube.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbFjLo8gRBk

      • Steven Gaydos

        U rock!

        • berg

          saw Pygmalion on Broadway with O’Toole, John Mills and Amanda Plummer …. when he entered for the first time the audience broke into applause and O’Toole for a moment dropped the fourth wall, turned to the aud, bowed his head in thanks, and then proceeded with the play

  • taikwan

    Jeff – I had hoped there would be a more compassionate and genuinely felt positive final line at his exit.

  • San Diego Cinerama

    “Everyone wrote yesterday that O’Toole was unfairly robbed of a Best Actor Oscar for his T.E. Lawrence portrayal. But the real robbery happened in April ’65 when his career-peak performance as Henry II in Becket lost to Rex Harrison‘s Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.”

    Nope.

    Peter Sellers was nominated for his parts in DR. STRANGELOVE.

    Peter O’Toole was brilliant in BECKET, but nothing compared to the scope and complexity of what Sellers had to do.