Hollywood legend Peter O’Toole (1932-2013) passed away yesterday in a London hospital after an extended illness at the age of 81. While cinephiles knew him best for David Lean‘s masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia, nerddom remembers him for his performance in 1984’s cheesy, yet beloved Supergirl as Zaltar–the drunken artist who nearly single-handedly destroys Supergirl’s floating domed city.
Nerds will also recognize him from “80’s-tastic” sci-fi comedy Creator, and as the voice of the title character in a series of animated adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes novels (1983).
Recently, he played Pope Paul III in the popular “History Nerd Porn” series The Tudors (2008), provided the voice of Anton Ego in PIXAR‘s Ratatouille (2007), starred as Lord Pelican in the futuristic drama Eager To Die (2010), played the King in Matthew Vaughn‘s fantasy Stardust (2007), and narrated the bizarre British straight-to-video comedy-horror-musical Highway To Hell, based on Edgar Allen Poe‘s El Dorado (2012).
O’Toole was nominated for an Academy Award a record EIGHT times without ever winning, and received an honorary Oscar in recognition of this “achievement” in 2003. He considered turning it down, on the grounds he was still acting, and may yet win…at last, he conceded, saying:
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot
He officially retired from acting in 2012, leaving the business with the words:
I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell
O’Toole’s family released this message to his many fans: