After Lee Aakers (Rusty on "The Rin-Tin-Tin Show"), when I was about seven, Peter O'Toole was my first actor crush, for, of course, "Lawrence of Arabia", in 1962. In fact, I had come to the movie as a 16-year-old T.E. Lawrence fangirl, straight from reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom
, and staggered out of the theater after four hours unsure on whom I was crushing harder, Lawrence or O'Toole.
After "The Lion in Winter", in 1968, I kind of fell away, bored by his bizarre film choices and turned off by his real-life hijinks. He was still capable of reeling me right back in, with some of the work he did ("The Ruling Class"), but I was always, and probably unfairly, mentally chiding him for behaving like the stereotypical Irish-actor drunk.
By the 80's I didn't bother keeping up at all; even the heralded "My Favorite Year" and "Stunt Man" didn't lure me to the theater, though I did go to see "Stardust", but for Neil Gaiman, not for O'Toole. "Troy" did get me because of him, though; well, him and Orlando, not
Brad... Sometimes I would catch him on TV: "High Spirits", "Masada", "Lassie", "The Last Emperor", stuff like that. He always seemed better than his material, but he never condescended to it. I'm sorry I never saw him on the stage; if I did, I don't remember it, which is probably the worst thing you can say about an actor. But no; I doubt I ever saw him live. Even at his worst, I would have remembered.
Sympathies to his family and friends, of course. By now he's probably sorted himself out and getting settled at The Bar, with his buddies Burton and Richard Harris and Oliver Reed and the other wild boys. I bet it will be fun, and resting in peace is probably the last thing Peter O'Toole has in mind.