BRITISH actor Peter O'Toole - one of the most acclaimed actors to never win an Oscar - left film and stage lovers in mourning after he died on this day in 2013. He was 81.

O'Toole's life began as a mystery with dual birth certificates showing he was born both in Ireland and England on August 2, 1932.

However, he grew up in Leeds and after an early career in journalism he was called up for national service as a signaller in the Royal Navy.

But the bright lights of fame were calling and after studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), he began his career treading the boards, most notably as a Shakespearean actor.

And his big breakthrough came when he portrayed Colonel T.E Lawrence in the classic, Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

O'Toole's performance was ranked as one of the greatest performances of all time and earned him his first of eight Academy Award nominations.

However, in one of the great shocks in cinema history, O'Toole, despite a career of eye-catching performances, never claimed an Oscar.

But in 2002, O'Toole finally climbed to the top of the dais to earn the Academy Honorary Award.

O'Toole was one of several actors to play the same role in different films, lent his voice to animated characters and appeared in successful shows on television.

O'Toole was married once and had three children. However, allegations of alcoholism mired much of his private life.

In 2012, O'Toole retired from acting and, a year later, it was announced, at the age of 81, he'd died at Wellington Hospital in St John's Wood.

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