You've gotta wonder if the phrase "it's about damn time" is running through Peter O'Toole's head.
The seven-time Oscar nominee is finally getting props from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his work in such classics as Lawrence of Arabia and My Favorite Year as the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award.
The trophy, in the form of a shiny gold Oscar statuette, will be presented to the actor at this year's Academy Awards on March 23.
"O'Toole's performances have ignited the screen for more than four decades," said Academy President Frank Pierson. "He has appeared in some of the most unforgettable roles in the history of the medium. He's seven times been nominated as Best Actor, which puts him in extremely rarified air for a performer. The Board of Governors felt it was time for him to hold his own Oscar in his hands."
The 70-year-old thespian has been making movies and plays for more than four decades, and his lack of Oscar glory has left many film critics and fans scratching their heads. He has been up for the gold in the lead actor category a whopping seven times for his masterful work in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980) and My Favorite Year (1982), but always went home empty-handed.
This time, however, he'll not only get a statuette, but it will be engraved with a special citation: "Peter O'Toole--whose remarkable talents have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters."
The actor's faithful are thrilled about the news, albeit mildly indignant that it's taken so long for their hero to be honored.
"This is a very talented man who deserved one years and years ago," sniped one fan on a Yahoo! News message board. "I am grateful this honorary award is finally given to a man who truly deserved it."
"Peter O'Toole's a great actor and one classy man," added another. "He certainly deserves it, and it's about time!"
O'Toole has made 50-plus films since debuting in Hollywood with 1959's The Savage Innocents. Though he had been performing on stage for 10 years, his film career quickly exploded, and he appeared in some of the most memorable films of all time. Aside from his nominated films, his other major credits include Lord Jim, The Night of the Generals and Man of La Mancha.
And in spite of his previous Oscar disses, O'Toole should take pride in this year's prize. The Academy is even pickier about its selection of Honorary Award winners than its regular trophy victors. In fact, it only doles out Honorary Oscars to actors who fulfill the description of "exceptional distinction in the making of motion pictures or for outstanding service to the Academy." In 75 years, only a few actors have claimed the award, including Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, Gene Kelly and last year's recipients, Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier.
The 75th Annual Academy Awards will bow on ABC live March 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT. Tune it to E! for its exclusive pre-Oscar countdown beginning at noon ET/9 a.m. PT.