O'Toole in 1978. (Photo Ideas/Chicago)

“It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. . . The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back.”

Peter O’Toole announcing he’s retiring at age 79. The legendarily hard-living Irish actor, launched to fame 50 years ago in “Lawrence of Arabia,” long resisted the curtain’s fall on his career: Awarded an honorary Oscar in 2003 after seven nominations, he tried to turn it down, saying he was “still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright.” (They gave it to him anyway, and he got an eighth nomination in 2007 — but never a win.) As for the timing of Tuesday’s statement: “One should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s stay.”

Earlier: “There’s no truth to the rumor that I’m dead.” — Peter O’Toole to Henry Allen in The Washington Post, Nov. 12, 1978: The ginger man: Peter O’Toole in 1978

(Hey, want to see some photos of Peter O’Toole back in the day? Keep scrolling)

In 1965’s “How to Steal a Million Dollars and Live Happily Ever After.” (AP)

In “Lawrence of Arabia,” from 1962. (AP)

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