Larry of Arabia hangs up acting at age 79
All kidding aside, I thought Peter was much older than that. Hasn't he been ancient for decades? I never would have guessed that he was still in his 40s when My Favorite Year was lensed.
To change directions a bit ...
Talk about somebody who will be missed by the film world! What a great screen presence, and what a great reminder of his generation of powerful, larger-than-life performers who are no longer with us. In a world in which movie stars and actors are often seated in two separate rooms, it's good to remember somebody who was both. I find that a Peter O'Toole movie is always worth watching, even if everything non-O'Toole about it sucks, just because Peter is in it.
50 years ago, when he lost the Best Actor Oscar for Lawrence of Arabia, everyone shrugged their shoulders and thought, "Oh, hell, he'll recover. He's so young and handsome and talented he'll probably win ten Oscars before he retires." Oddly enough, he never won one, although he got an honorary one a few years back. He was nominated about a zillion times, but never won.
You may be thinking, "How could he lose for Lawrence of Arabia?" It was just a matter of poor timing. He would have won almost any year but 1962, when Gregory Peck turned in arguably the most beloved performance in screen history as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
In 1982, when O'Toole did "My Favorite Year," he was lucky to be nominated at all, because comedy almost always gets to sit at the kids' table in the academy parties, especially in the Best Actor category. Think about the greatest comic performances in history. Cary Grant never won an Oscar except the obligatory honorary one. Bill Murray was never nominated for Groundhog Day. Groucho was never nominated for Duck Soup. Leslie Nielsen was never nominated for any of his comedy roles, and never even got an honorary Oscar, although he may be the greatest comic actor in history. Nobody was nominated from Animal House or The Big Lebowski. Woody Allen and Johnny Depp have been nominated for comic performances, but lost. Even the beloved Tom Hanks has only been able to win for his heartwarming or heartbreaking crossover performances.
About the only time a comic role has a chance at Best Actor recognition is when a serious actor is slumming in comedies, like Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou, or Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets, but poor O'Toole didn't get the timing right on that one, either. His hilarious and touching performance in My Favorite Year earned him a nomination, but he had to go up against Ben Kingsley's Gandhi, a really excellent performance in an "important" award-magnet film.