Acting legend Peter O’Toole, best remembered for his Oscar nominated role in Lawrence Of Arabia, has died aged 81.

The actor’s agent confirmed that he passed away in London’s Wellington Hospital on Saturday afternoon after a long illness.

His death comes a year after he announced he was retiring from acting.

O’Toole’s daughter Kate later thanked well-wishers for their support, saying: “His family are very appreciative and completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and towards us, during this unhappy time.

“Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”

Prime Minister David Cameron was also among those who paid tribute to the actor, saying: “My thoughts are with Peter O’Toole’s family and friends. His performance in my favourite film Lawrence Of Arabia was stunning.

O’Toole, who was reported to have been born in County Galway, Ireland, started out as a stage actor before his Lawrence Of Arabia role shot him to stardom in 1962.

He went on to notch up a string of memorable movie appearances in the likes of Becket, The Lion In Winter, Goodbye Mr Chips, The Stunt Man and My Favourite Year.

The actor was nominated for an Oscar eight times – most recently for his role in the 2006 drama Venus – but never actually won the coveted statuette.

He was however awarded an honorary Oscar in 2003, after initially turning it down – saying he was “still in the game and might win the b****r outright.”

More recently he appeared in the TV series The Tudors, and had reportedly been coaxed out of retirement this year to appear in a historical drama set in ancient Rome.

O’Toole was renowned for his hellraising ways along with acting peers Richard Harris and Richard Burton – but gave up drinking in the 70s after being diagnosed with pancreatitis.

He was married twice, to actress Sian Phillips, with whom he had daughters Pat and Kate.

The actor is also survived by his son Lorcan from his second marriage to Karen Brown.