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Star of the desert proved he was also a deserter of the stars

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The new year period is a time for reflection, and one has naturally been thinking about the highs and lows of the past year. Without being too morose, Tabard has been musing on those performers and creatives who have sadly passed away. Some have left more of an impression than others, though – and not always for the sycophantic reasons often displayed in their obituaries.

One such gentleman was Peter O’Toole. For all his immense talent and star quality, few would deny that, quite frankly, O’Toole could be a grade A pain in the arse. Especially during his drinking days. The great US actress Katharine Hepburn famously slapped him round the chops for keeping her waiting on set while he finished a game of cards in his trailer. She commented later that he needed slapping more often.

Tabard heard that a regular Stage contributor was also kept waiting once by the actor, who had agreed to be interviewed for a national newspaper during a break in filming. The journalist waited and waited in a grotty anteroom while the press officer nervously gave assurances that O’Toole would soon be ready for the encounter.

After three (long) hours, the PR had the unenviable task of telling the journalist that the Lawrence of Arabia star wasn’t feeling well enough for the interview. The journalist’s respect for the actor was never the same again.