He made many notable appearances but probably none as famous as his debut as the title character of the 1962 biopic Lawrence of Arabia. His charismatic performance of T.E. Lawrence still holds up after all of these years. It garnered him his first of many Oscar nominations.
He was hailed as the next Laurence Olivier, and he WAS good, but for much of his life he preferred boozing it up and carousing to acting, and therefore like Richard Burton didn't quite live up to expectations.
His carousing became legend, particularly in the 1970s. As he himself said, he had long been “happy to grasp the hand of misfortune, dissipation, riotous living and violence,” counting Mr. Burton, Richard Harris, Robert Shaw, Francis Bacon, Trevor Howard, Laurence Harvey and Peter Finch among his drinking companions. He lost much of his “Lawrence” earnings in two nights with Omar Sharif at casinos in Beirut and Casablanca.
O'Toole should have known better than to go gambling on the town with Omar Sharif. It is not known how Sharif fared. At least O'Toole didn't gamble it all away playing bridge with Sharif in some smoky backroom.
The late actor made his share of turkeys, including Man of La Mancha:
So bad it's good.