Saturday, November 27, 2021



Peter O’Toole (1932 – 2013) was a renowned drinker.

Some stories . . 


In an interview on Letterman in 2010, Letterman had the following exchange with O’Toole, which can be viewed at:

LETTERMAN: You are of the school and perhaps the heritage and the time where drinking was just something you did when you weren’t doing anything else. Is that a fair way to express it?

O’TOOLE: And when you were doing something else.

LETTERMAN: And when you would go out for an evening, anything ever untoward happen, like, would you the next day would you wake up in a , , , I mean, how did that work?

O’TOOLE: Many, many . . . Well, there’s one in particular which I’m fond of. It’s, my friend the late Peter Finch, and we were in Dublin together, on the lash.


O’TOOLE: Lash usually means having a drop of something cheerful and then doing a lot of leaping and shrieking and saying why not.

And Finchie was living a few miles out of Dublin and I went back with him to his house where we were going to spend the night and it was not too late, about four-ish . . .


O’TOOLE: Yeah; and there was a tiny little hole in the wall bar, and we thought we’d just drop in for a last one. Well, we went in and we had a couple of drinks, and the barman, it was a tiny little dirty little place, and he said “Boys, you had enough. You’re having no more.” So Finchie and I said “No No No No No. We’re having much more!” “No No No No” says he, “You’re out!”

So we bought the bar!

LETTERMAN: There you go. Problem solved.

O’TOOLE: The following morning I woke up and Finchie said “You know what we did last night, mate?”

I said “No.”

He said “We bought a (pause) bar.”

I said “What?”

So immediately we telephoned to cancel cheques but they’d not been cashed. So we went to the bar and there was the man with the two cheques and he said “Now you two boys gotta behave yourselves.” And we fell for him. I mean he was such a sweet guy and he hadn’t bothered cashing . . . he gave us the cheques back and we tore them up. About a year later – we used to pop in there every night on the way back to Finchie’s place – about a year later he died, so Finchie and I went over to Ireland for the funeral, because we’d gotten to know him a little bit, and his family, went to the cemetery and there was this group around the grace, the family, sobbing noisily, and Finchie and I joined them. On our knees (makes hands clasped in prayer gesture), and a woman came up and tapped me on the shoulder, and we were at the wrong grave.

LETTERMAN: It all counts. At any time during your life, speaking of that, have you thought what you might like as a final message on your tombstone?

Oh yes, Oh yes. This arrived in the sixties. I had an old leather jacket of which I was inordinately fond and it was covered in Guinness and blood and muck, the usual, and I sent it off to the cleaner, or my wife sent it off to the cleaner and it came back and pinner on it was a large note saying “Sycamore Cleaners. It distresses us to return work which is not perfect.” So I’m having that on my tombstone.


Rising with a new generation of actors, O'Toole's drinking buddies included men who would go on to become acting legends in their own right. Michael Caine was his understudy for the 1959 play The Long and the Short and the Tall at the Royal Court Theatre. One night after the show O'Toole invited the then unknown actor out for dinner.

"Was there a wildest weekend that you remember?" chat show host Jay Leno once asked Caine. "There was a wildest weekend that I don't remember," Caine replied, referring to what followed.

Caine said that after the dinner he had woken up in a strange flat. The last thing he remembered was eating a plate of eggs and chips. "What time is it?" asked Caine. "Never mind what time it is," said O'Toole. "What fucking day is it?" It turned out that it was five o'clock in the afternoon two days later.

Back at the theatre, the stage manager informed the pair they had been banned from the restaurant for life. Caine wondered what they had done. "Never ask what you did. It's better not to know," said O'Toole.



On a night out drinking with Omar Sharif in Beirut whilst filming Lawrence of Arabia, they drunkenly ended up in a brothel and tried to pay for sex They couldn’t work out why the women were so unresponsive, it turned out that they were in a nunnery.

From The Definitive Biography, by Robert Sellers, reviewed at:


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