Nightly News   |  December 15, 2013

Peter O’Toole dies at age 81

The actor who starred in films such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Last Emperor” died at age 81 following a lengthy illness. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports.

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>>> the sad news came from his agent, actor peter o'toole died peacefully saturday at a london hospital following a long illness. he was 81 years old. his film and stage career spanned more than 60 years. we get more from nbc's jim maceda.

>> reporter: peter o'toole began his career as a bright young star of the british stage but the world came to know him with those piercing blue eyes in "lawrence of arabia" where he played the british officer in world war i, landing o'toole an oscar nomination as best actor in 1962 .

>> you look great.

>> nine centuries ago.

>> time to be great again.

>> reporter: o'toole was good again and again winning seven more oscar nominations including for his 1960s roles. goodbye mr. chips.

>> you all hated me for this but i am very particular.

>> reporter: he held a dubious record. the most oscar nominations without ever winning one until an honorary award in 2003 .

>> he did point out that he was the son of a book maker, the guy who bet on race horses. and i think he sort of appreciated the irony in his own lifetime, peter o'toole was never a sure thing.

>> reporter: he was known for his krousing and heavy drinking . he gave up drinking after a bout of pancreatitis almost killed him. tonight film and theatergoers in london's west end were saddened by the news.

>> it is a sad loss in the film industry and as an actor. he was so renowned and well respected.

>> reporter: two years ago he was honored by hollywood. peter o'toole, rakish, sue people areally talented, one of the best actors of his generation.