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The last one is gone.

Yesterday, the last of my Deities of Cinema, Peter O’Toole, passed away at the age of 81.

Born on an unknown date in an unknown location, he was the son of a Scottish nurse and an Irish bookie who made their way through the underclass of war-torn Britain. O’Toole came from little, but followed his nose and his talent, and eventually built a larger-than-life-sized persona to match his larger-than-life-sized career. He was a colossus in a profession filled with stars and showed himself able to handle anything from farcical comedy to tragic drama to subtle, supporting roles. He could be urbane, crude, boisterous, bombastic, kind, loving, cruel, imperious, or callow as the role required, and he gave us iconic performances as Lawrence, Lord Jim, a young Henry II (Becket), an elder Henry II (The Lion in Winter), Mr. Chips, Don Quixote, Alan Swann, and dozens of others.

There are other great actors alive in the world today; this cannot be denied. But there are no more giants. The industry has changed, and it can no longer contain the type of personality O’Toole presented to us.

Working with O’Toole during the filming of King Ralph, John Goodman, asked the revered actor if he might borrow an ashtray.

O’Toole flicked his cigar ash on the floor.

“Make the world your ashtray, my boy.”

The last one is gone.

k

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