Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole (born 2 August 1932) is an Irish-born English actor of stage and screen who achieved stardom in 1962 playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia. He went on to become a highly-honoured film and stage actor. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most competitive Academy Award acting nominations without a win. He has won four Golden Globes, a BAFTA, and an Emmy, and was the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award in 2003 for his body of work.
Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole was born in 1932. Some sources give his birthplace as Connemara, County Galway, Ireland, and others as Leeds, in West Riding of Yorkshire, England, where he grew up. O'Toole himself is not certain of his birthplace or date, noting in his autobiography that, while he accepts 2 August as his birthdate, he has a birth certificate from each country, with the Irish one giving a June 1932 birthdate. O'Toole is the son of Constance Jane (née Ferguson), a Scottish nurse, and Patrick Joseph O'Toole, an Irish metal plater, football player and racecourse bookmaker. When O'Toole was one year old, his family began a five-year tour of major racecourse towns in Northern England. He was raised Roman Catholic. O'Toole was evacuated from Leeds early in World War II and went to a Catholic school for seven or eight years, where he was "implored" to become right-handed. “I used to be scared stiff of the nuns: their whole denial of womanhood – the black dresses and the shaving of the hair – was so horrible, so terrifying,” he later commented. “Of course, that's all been stopped. They're sipping gin and tonic in the Dublin pubs now, and a couple of them flashed their pretty ankles at me just the other day.”
Upon leaving school O'Toole obtained employment as a trainee journalist and photographer on the Yorkshire Evening Post, until he was called up for national service as a signaller in the Royal Navy. As reported in a radio interview in 2006 on NPR, he was asked by an officer whether he had something he had always wanted to do. His reply was that he had always wanted to try being either a poet or an actor. O'Toole attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) from 1952 to 1954 on a scholarship after being rejected by the Abbey Theatre's drama school in Dublin by the director Ernest Blythe, because he couldn't speak Irish. At RADA, he was in the same class as Albert Finney, Alan Bates and Brian Bedford. O'Toole described this as "the most remarkable class the academy ever had, though we weren't reckoned for much at the time. We were all considered dotty."