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Peter O'Toole: Hellraiser, Sexual Outlaw, Irish Rebel

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by Darwin Porter & Danforth Prince
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Peter O'Toole: Hellraiser, Sexual Outlaw, Irish Rebel by Darwin Porter & Danforth Prince

"God put me on this earth to raise hell!" Thus spoke the charismatic Irish actor, Peter O'Toole, who shot to international stardom in 1962 for his Oscar-nominated performance in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. In that four-hour epic, he played the heroic but flamboyantly doomed T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"). After such a worldwide success, O'Toole announced, "I've arrived. Ignore me at your peril!" He would go on to be nominated for seven more Oscars: Becket with his drinking buddy and co-star, Richard Burton; The Lion in Winter ('68) opposite Katharine Hepburn, who beat him up; Goodbye, Mr. Chips ('69); The Ruling Class ('72); The Stunt Man ('80); My Favorite Year ('82); and Venus (in '06). Finally, in 2003, the Academy belatedly awarded him an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement. Born to a vagabond bookie working the U.K.'s racetracks, O'Toole as a very young man "became the most notorious sailor in Her Majesty's Royal Navy," before working as a hawker of balloons, a paparazzo, a newsman, and a steeplejack. He drifted into the London Theater and studied ballet. "When I pranced out onto the stage in my obscenely thin pink tights, I was pursued by all of the stately homos of Britain—from Olivier to Gielgud." Reed thin, toweringly tall, and larger than life, with blue eyes as pale as an autumn morning, O'Toole brought his tormented personality to stage and screen, exhibiting a galvanizing mania with a booming speech pattern evocative of the most chauvinistic days of the British Empire. Some critics suggested that he wasn't a real star, but a quasar. To that, he shot back: "At least the image is celestial!"He was hailed as the greatest stage actor since Lord Laurence Olivier, eventually evolving into the Crown Prince of the British Theatre. As a Shakespearean actor, he was brilliant: His Hamlet was acclaimed as the most stunning of the century. But he was unpredictable. His horrendous, ridiculous performance of Macbeth was laughed off the London stage, one critic asserting that his voice combined that of Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane with Vincent Price "hamming up a horror film." With drinking buddies like Richard Burton, O'Toole was the last of the dying breed of orgiastic hellraisers in the tradition of Errol Flynn. Off screen, O'Toole starred in week-long binges and sex orgies of near biblical proportions. He equaled Don Juan's legendary 1,003 seductions, bedding everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Princess Margaret, who relentlessly pursued him.

His other conquests were legendary: Ursula Andress (his co-star in What's New, Pussycat?, '65); Audrey Hepburn (his co-star in How to Steal a Million, '66); and Jodie Foster (his co-star in Svengali, '83). He also seduced the stunningly beautiful then-most-famous transvestite in Britain, April Ashley.

Anthony Quinn once asked him, "Was there a leading lady you didn't seduce?" O'Toole replied, "Give me some time, and I might come up with a name."After a night of heavy drinking in a pub, he was fond of "dropping trou to show off my wand of lust, my mighty mallet." He married only once, to the Welsh actress, Si?n Phillips, who was warned in advance of the ceremony, "Peter's a genius, but he indulges in unnatural perversions." Mercurial acting talent on the screen was combined with a lethal off-screen life that "would have landed most blokes in jail" (his words). As the decades passed, his ravaged face and body reflected his dissipated lifestyle, evoking the demented Emperor Tiberius he played in Penthouse's A-list porn flick, Caligula. "I look like five miles of bad roads in Ireland," he lamented. As a parting sally to the world, he said, "I chase

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Ebook Details
Pages: 623
Size: 31.6 MB
Publisher: Blood Moon Productions
Date published:   2015
ISBN: 2370006670414 (DRM-EPUB)
9781936003464 (DRM-PDF)

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