Actor Peter O'Toole has died at the age of 81.

O'Toole's agent Steve Kenis says the actor died Saturday at a London hospital following a long illness. "In due course there will be a memorial filled with song and good cheer, as he would have wished," Kenis wrote in an email announcing the actor's death according to CNN. "We will be happy to speak to you all then but in the meantime if you could give Peter O'Toole the respect he deserves and allow us to grieve privately we'd appreciate it."

"Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre," Irish President Michael D. Higgins said in a statement according to CNN.

O'Toole was nominated 8 times for an Academy Award including roles in Lawrence of Arabia,  The Lion in Winter, Becket and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

O'Toole began his acting career as one of the most exciting young talents on the British stage. His 1955 "Hamlet," at the Bristol Old Vic, was critically acclaimed.

He got his first Oscar nomination for 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia," his last for "Venus" in 2006. With that he set the record for most nominations without ever winning, though he had accepted an honorary Oscar in 2003.

Among his later roles was the voice of food critic Anton Ego in the animated feature Ratatouille.

O'Toole retired from acting in 2012 although he had completed appearances in the upcoming movies Katherine of Alexandria and Mary according to the website

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The Associated Press contributed to this report