Peter O’Toole’s Nose

Deal W. Hudson
January 15, 2018

Peter O’Toole was so handsome, even men called him “beautiful,” but the perfectly chiseled nose was not part of his original equipment.

In the fascinating biography of O’Toole by Robert Sellers, we discover that the 27-year old had his nose “bobbed” because he wanted “to be a movie star.” His new agent Jules Buck convinced him, without much effort, that the movie camera would not be kind to his “slightly bulbous” nose. Many of his theater friends accused him of “selling out,” but anything O’Toole did he did without any apparent regret.

The equally young Peter Hall, who had just taken charge of the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, had hired O’Toole for two title roles, one being Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice.” O’Toole was not his first choice — the sudden withdrawal of Paul Scofield sent Hall looking for an available replacement. Thus, Peter O’Toole became the youngest actor to perform lead roles at Stratford.

Upon seeing the actor, Hall was not happy with the nose job, either, thinking his face now looked far less suitable for a Jewish character. But his performance as Shylock launched Peter O’Toole into stardom. The British reviewers could not praise him highly enough. Writing in the Tribune, critic Mervyn Jones wrote, “Peter O’Toole gives a performance as Shylock that will stand as a great chapter in theatre history.”

Looking at the photograph below of the original, I think Peter O’Toole made the right decision. A handsome face, yes, and the quizzical eyes and brow are still arresting, but the nose draws my eye away from his expressive eyes and well-proportioned, sensual mouth. And, yes, he most certainly did obtain his goal: Peter O’Toole became not merely a movie star but a force of nature whose reputation as an artist only grows with the passing of years.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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