Peter O’Toole, one of Britain’s finest ever actors, had strong links with Sunderland.
Peter’s father, Patrick O’Toole (known locally as Paddy) was born in Trimdon Street and served his apprenticeship as a plater and shipwright at Laing’s shipyard whilst Peter’s grandmother ran a secondhand furniture shop in the town.
In the early 1920s Paddy began travelling around local racetracks as a bookmaker whilst at the same time running his business on the fringes of the law out of a base in Derwent Street.
Paddy left Sunderland in the late 1920s and Peter was born in 1932. However, Paddy had been a staunch Sunderland supporter and he retained that throughout his life. This obviously had an effect upon Peter as, in the 1990s, he publicly declared his support for the Black Cats on the Channel 4 chat show, TFI Friday. He also arranged for his father’s ashes to be scattered on Roker Park.
O’Toole went on of course to be a leading actor in many Hollywood blockbusters and perhaps his most famous portrayal was as Lawrence Of Arabia.
A little known actor at the time O’Toole played the leading part in David Lean’s 1962 British historical epic about the British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat and writer Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence and was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance.
O’Toole died on 14 December 2013 at St John’s Wood, London.