The Harry Ransom Center has picked up the archive of no-kidding-legendary British actor Peter O’Toole (1932–2013).
O’Toole starred in such Academy Award-nominated classics as “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), “Becket” (1964), “The Lion in Winter” (1968) and “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1969). He finally picked up an honorary Oscar for a lifetime’s worth of awesome-ness in 2002.
O’Toole was also a distinguished stage actor who performed in the theater from the 1950s through 1999.
The archive contains theater and film scripts along with O’Toole’s writings, including drafts, notes and working material for his multi-volume memoir “Loitering with Intent.”
“It is with a respect for the past and an eye to the future that I recognize the importance of making my father’s archive accessible and preserving it for future generations,” said Kate O’Toole. “Thanks to the nature of film, my father’s work has already been immortalized. The Ransom Center now provides a world-class home for the private thoughts, conversations, notes and stories that illuminate such a long and distinguished career.”
The archive was acquired for $400,000, with private sources of support covering the cost, according to Jen Tisdale, director of public affairs for the Ransom Center.
O’Toole’s correspondence offers insight into his relationships with a murderer’s row of 20th century screen talent including (deep breath) Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, John Gielgud, Peter Hall, Katharine Hepburn, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Irons, Spike Milligan, Paul Newman, Trevor Nunn, Laurence Olivier, Harold Pinter and Kevin Spacey, among many others.
The archive also includes plenty of photos, diaries and notebooks, theater and film programs and memorabilia, audio recordings of O’Toole rehearsing lines and reciting poetry, awards, and a selection of iconic props and costume pieces, including his sword from the National Theatre’s inaugural production of “Hamlet” directed by Olivier.
O’Toole’s career started as a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1952 to 1954. He received accolades for his time with the Bristol Old Vic, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre before his turn in the title role of David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” made him a household name.
The O’Toole collection joins other archives of stage and screen performers including Stella Adler, Robert De Niro, Edith Evans, Anne Jackson, George Bernard Shaw and Eli Wallach. The Ransom Center also holds a collection of materials from real-life Lawrence of Arabia T. E. Lawrence.
The archive will be accessible once processed and cataloged.