We lost a couple of the greats this weekend: Peter O’Toole, who was 81, and Joan Fontaine, who was 96. O’Toole, that gloriously gifted Irish-born actor, was best known for his star turn in “Lawrence of Arabia” — and for never winning an Academy Award, despite eight nominations. He was given an honorary Oscar in 2003, which he initially declined, noting charmingly that he was still in the game and might still “win the lovely bugger outright.” Watch this clip below, to see Meryl Streep presenting the award to him (and rightly noting his “golden voice that lifts, gilds and animates ordinary words, and the light in his eyes as if he’d swallowed the pale blue moon”), and O’Toole graciously accepting it. “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride — my foot!”
Fontaine did win an Oscar, back in 1942, for her role opposite Cary Grant in the Hitchcock film “Suspicion” — but I always think of her just a year earlier, in another Hitchcock film. Fontaine was only 23 when she played the nameless heroine of “Rebecca,” and something about that touching performance seems to completely signify youth, in all its lovely, wistful awkwardness. Long retired from movies (though she appeared in a few television productions in the 1980s and 1990s), Fontaine will forever be remembered for her 1940s-era work (which also included “Jane Eyre” and “The Constant Nymph”). Her older sister, Olivia de Havilland, lives on — at 97.