On Tuesday, Peter O’Toole announced his retirement. He never won an Oscar, despite being nominated eight times (detailed below). That feat of being repeatedly defeated earned him a place in the record book as Oscar’s biggest loser.
However, O’Toole also holds the record among Best Actor contenders for longest span (44 years) between first and last nominations. And his eight bids rank him alongside Jack Nicholson and Paul Newman and just one behind Laurence Olivier and Spencer Tracy.
In 2003, he reluctantly accepted an honorary Academy Award from the academy only after being reminded that Newman won his only Oscar after being feted in a similar manner. While O’Toole did contend again three years later, he lost one last time.
In his statement, he eloquently detailed his decision to retire from acting:
It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back.
My professional acting life, stage and screen, has brought me public support, emotional fulfillment and material comfort. It has brought me together with fine people, good companions with whom I’ve shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits.
However, it’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s stay.
So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell.
1962: “Lawrence of Arabia”; lost to Gregory Peck (“To Kill a Mockingbird”);
1964: “Becket”; lost to Rex Harrison (“My Fair Lady”);
1968: “The Lion in Winter”; lost to Cliff Robertson (“Charly”);
1969: “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”; lost to John Wayne (“True Grit”);
1972: “The Ruling Class”; lost to Marlon Brando (“The Godfather”);
1980: “The Stunt Man”; lost to Robert DeNiro (“Raging Bull”);
1982: “My Favorite Year”; lost to Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”); and
2006: “Venus”; lost to Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”).
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