Actor Peter O'Toole, who portrayed Col. T.E. Lawrence in "Lawrence of Arabia," died in a London hospital, his agent, Steve Kenis, said Sunday. He was 81.

The actor will go down in film history for his versatility and for his outstanding performance in the 1962 film classic directed by David Lean.

"His family are very appreciative and completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us, during this unhappy time," Kenis said in an e-mail confirming the actor's death.

O'Toole died Saturday in Wellington Hospital after a long illness, Kenis said, without providing more information about the cause of death.

The actor, who began his performing career in Bristol and London at age 17 and starred in films such as "The Night of the Generals" (1966) and "Man of La Mancha" (1972), received an honorary Academy Award in 2003 after having being nominated eight times but never winning.

Born to an Irish father and a Scottish mother, the date and place of his birth have always been surrounded by controversy, and although some sources claim he was born in Connemara, Ireland, others say the location was Leeds, in northern England.

O'Toole himself said that that he acknowledged Aug. 2, 1932, as the date of his birth.

The actor abused his health for many years, admitting to alcohol abuse and heavy smoking, and his dependence on whisky in 1976 brought him to death's door when he had to have his pancreas and a large portion of his stomach removed. EFE