Two Hollywood Legends Have Died

Dec 15, 2013  •  Post A Comment

A sad weekend in Hollywood as fans mourned the deaths of two famous actors of the silver screen.

Peter O’Toole, who forever has a place in the pantheon of Hollywood greats for his role as the title character in "Lawrence of Arabia," died Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at age 81. According to the BBC, O’Toole "was being treated at London’s Wellington hospital after a long illness, his agent added." No cause of death was announced.

Then, earlier today, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, word came that Academy Award-winner Joan Fontaine, 96, had died in her home in Carmel, Calif. According to The New York Times, Fontaine’s death "was confirmed by her assistant, Susan Pfeiffer," though no cause of her death was released.

O’Toole had been nominated for an Academy Award eight times–starting with his role in the 1962 epic "Lawrence of Arabia"–never winning. However, in 2003 he did receive an honorary Oscar recognizing his acting talents.

If you want to see how truly great O’Toole was as an actor, and don’t have the time to watch "Lawrence of Arabia," TVWeek recommends you seek out the comedy "My Favorite Year," in which O’Toole plays a guest star on a TV show in the 1950s. It’s one of roles for which O’Toole was nominated for an Academy Award and the critic Pauline Kael called O’Toole’s acting in "My Favorite Year" "simply astounding."

Joan Fontaine, who had a life-long feud with her sister, Olivia De Havilland, won her Oscar for the movie "Suspicion." Says the Times about Fontaine, she "rose to stardom as a haunted second wife in the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘Rebecca’ in 1940 and won an Academy Award for her portrayal of a terrified newlywed in Hitchcock’s ‘Suspicion’ " two years later.

The Times adds "Ms. Fontaine was only 24 when she took home her Oscar in 1942, the youngest best-actress winner at the time, but her victory was equally notable because her older sister, Olivia de Havilland, was also a nominee that year. The sisters were estranged for most of their adult lives, a situation Ms. Fontaine once attributed to her having married and won an Oscar before Ms. de Havilland did."

De Havilland is 97 and lives in Paris.

The Times also says about Fontaine that "She continued acting well into her 70s. She appeared in television movies, including ‘The Users’ (1978) and ‘Crossings’ (1986), based on a Danielle Steel novel. A series of appearances on the soap opera ‘Ryan’s Hope’ in 1980 led to a Daytime Emmy nomination. Her final screen role was as a supportive royal grandmother in ‘Good King Wenceslas’ (1994) on the Family Channel. She also did theater across the United States and abroad, but never returned to film."

To see Fontaine in one of her signature roles, TVWeek recommends you track down a wonderful movie, "Letter From an Unknown Woman" from 1948.

Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia.pngPeter O’Toole in his most famous role, as "Lawrence of Arabia"

Joan Fontaine in Rebecca.jpgJoan Fontaine in "Rebecca"

One Comment

  1. Well the legion of Oscar fanatics wonders how (our otherwise beloved) Times reported “Ms. Fontaine was only 24 when she took home her Oscar in 1942, the youngest best-actress winner at the time.”
    In fact, the very first Oscar winning actress, Janet Gaynor, was just 22 when awarded the statuette.
    It took until Marlee Matlin won in 1987 to become the youngest winner in that category. She still holds that record, although the
    “current winner”- Jennifer Lawrence – is now the second youngest at age 22.

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