While we tip our hats to Donna Brazile and Don Johnson each celebrating a birthday today, it appears Dec. 15, 2013 will be known as a day filled with goodbyes to entertainment giants. First came the announcement that Peter O’Toole passed away peacefully last night and now news that Tom Laughlin, a rebel who changed movie promotions, has passed away on Thursday.
Peter O’Toole was a legendary performer but perhaps will forever be known as the star of Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. He brought to the big screen the powerful tale of Thomas Edward Lawrence, a British military legend in World War I. This is a movie ranked in the Top 100 films of all time for many movie buffs.
O’Toole went on to have a wonderful career, with perhaps his second most famous role as the beloved professor in Goodbye Mr. Chips in 1964. He received a total of seven Oscar nominations for Best Actor but never won. However, he received an honorary Oscar in 2003.
Most movie lovers today are not even familiar with the series of films starring Laughlin as the rebel Billy Jack. However, when he sued and beat Warner Brothers to take back the rights to Billy Jack, Laughlin’s creative marketing of the re-release of the film laid the foundation for modern day movie promotions. The movie cost him less than a million to make and earned over $65 million at the box office and over the years has earned another $32.5 million in rentals. Read more about it on TheWrap.
After acting Laughlin focused on education and politics. The Montessori preschool he launched in Santa Monica, California became the largest school of its kind in the United States. He ran for president three times, the last time was 2008.
Laughlin was married for sixty years to Billy Jack co-star Delores Taylor and together they raised three children. His family said he died peacefully on Thursday in Thousand Oaks, California.
O’Toole was 81 years old and Laughlin was 82.