My Own Peter O’Toole Story
It is rare that I run into Famous Actors from the stage or screen, and rarer still that they run into me. And rarer still, that they might remember the incident as clearly as I do, or at all. This story, as of yesterday, now belongs only to me.
We were together in Jamaica in 1985—Peter O’Toole and I. He was shooting a film, Club Paradise; I was a transient guest at the hotel being used for some of the scenes. I was younger then, innocent of the ways of the world. I thought the fiberglass cannons—twenty-four pounders, I should say—were a part of the décor of the hotel’s crenellated balcony walls. Turned out they were props for the movie.
Our brief stay at this hotel being ended, we packed our bags and headed for the parking lot on the opposite side of a round-top wood door through a stucco wall. Just ahead of me (with our suitcases in hand) a large black washerwoman with a huge basket of fresh white laundry on her head was about to pass through that door to the outside.
At just that moment, as she opened the outswinging door, Peter O’Toole, always the consummate actor and now with the cameras rolling on the other side, was cued to rush past her and burst through that same door. Past the washerwoman, and into me.
We collided. O’Toole with me, that is. We looked into each others’ eyes, up close (my blues and his) for the briefest of moments, with that “Oh, excuse me!” expression one has for strangers in such moments. Then I carried my luggage on out through the door, and to my waiting car. O’Toole, I suppose, was next engaged in re-shooting that scene. Which was never used in the movie which on release sank like a stone. Not one of his more renowned efforts.
The moment was one of my few brushes with stardom. I’ve remembered it fondly, in great detail.. I don’t suppose my costar in the moment remembers it at all. He might have, but now it’s too late to tell.