Peter O’Toole Retiring From Acting: ‘The Heart of It Has Gone Out of Me’

The "Goodbye Mr. Chips" star, who deftly moved between stage and screen, announced Tuesday that it's time "to chuck the sponge"

Peter O'Toole is bowing out of acting, saying, "the heart of it has gone out of me: it won't come back."

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The veteran thespian announced Tuesday that he was retiring after a 62-year career that began on the boards when he was just 17 years old. Now just shy of his 80th birthday on Aug. 2, O'Toole said in a statement, "It is time for me to chuck the sponge. To retire from films and stage." 

Also read: Peter O'Toole Retires: 6 Underrated Performances

O'Toole gave a nod to the perks of the job, which afforded him "public support, emotional fulfilment and material comfort," he said, and brought him "good companions with whom I've shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits."

The classically trained actor drew upon his sense of timing in making his exit, adding that he believed "that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one's stay." He ended his statement with a flourish: "So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell."

Also read: Anthony Hopkins on Woody Allen, Bill Clinton and Drinking With Peter O'Toole 

After a stint in the Royal Navy, O'Toole honed his chops at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London alongside classmates Albert Finney and Richard Harris. He proved his versatility by deftly switching from Shakespearean stage roles, famously becoming a tough act to follow with his portrayal of Hamlet, to the big screen in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," "Lawrence of Arabia," "The Ruling Class," "Caligula" and "The Last Emperor," among other noteworthy turns.

One career high he didn't hit, however, is bagging a Best Actor Oscar win — despite eight nominations over the years. He took home an honorary Oscar in 2003 and had one last shot at a gold statuette in 2006 with a nomination for his work in the intergenerational sexual dramedy "Venus."