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Actor Peter O'Toole dies after long illness, aged 81

LONDON (Reuters) - Actor Peter O'Toole, who shot to international fame in the blockbuster movie "Lawrence of Arabia", has died aged 81 in London after a long illness, his agent said on Sunday.

O'Toole, who had survived a bout of stomach cancer in the 1970s, died in a London hospital on Saturday, Steve Kenis, his agent, told Reuters.

O'Toole's striking good looks and charm sustained him through a stage and film career of more than 50 years that swung wildly between triumph and disaster.

The son of an Irishman, O'Toole grew up in England. Years of heavy drinking and chain-smoking took their toll on his health.

"Peter O'Toole's family announced today that very sadly Peter died yesterday, peacefully in hospital. He had been ill for some time," Kenis said in a statement.

Kate O'Toole, his daughter, thanked the public for what she described as an outpouring of love and affection for the late actor.

She asked for her family to be allowed to grieve in private, saying in the same statement it would organise a memorial service "filled with song and good cheer" in due course. (Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Alison Williams)