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'Lawrence of Arabia' star Peter O'Toole dead at 81

BY GREGORY KATZ
ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON -- Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died, his agent said Sunday. He was 81.

O'Toole died Saturday after a long illness, Steve Kenis said in a brief statement.

The family was overwhelmed "by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us, during this unhappy time. ... In due course there will be a memorial filled with song and good cheer, as he would have wished," O'Toole's daughter Kate said in the statement.

O'Toole got his first Oscar nomination for 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia," his last for "Venus" in 2006. With that he set the record for most nominations without ever winning, though he had accepted an honorary Oscar in 2003.

His sensitive portrayal of Lawrence's complex character garnered O'Toole his first Oscar nomination.

O'Toole was tall, fair and strikingly handsome, and the image of his bright blue eyes peering out of an Arab headdress in Lean's spectacularly photographed desert epic was unforgettable.

Playwright Noel Coward once said that if O'Toole had been any prettier, they would have had to call the movie "Florence of Arabia."

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