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The movies they gave us: O’Toole, Fontaine and the man known as Billy Jack

Updated: 2013-12-16T21:42:43Z

By LISA GUTIERREZ

The Kansas City Star

Over the last few days Hollywood has said good-bye to three of its own: Peter O’Toole, Joan Fontaine and Tom Laughlin, aka Billy Jack. How varied were their characters on the big screen – the dashing adventurer, the enigmatic bride, the ex-Green Beret who saves horses and hippies.

O’Toole, the Irish-born son of a bookie, died in London on Saturday after a lengthy illness. He was 81.

Fontaine, the younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland, also died Saturday, in California. She was 96.

Laughlin, a political activist who ran for U.S. president three times, died Thursday in California. He was 82.

If you’ve never seen their work, here’s a brief rundown.

O’Toole: Was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the dashing Lawrence of Arabia in the 1962 movie of the same name. He got a huge break when Albert Finney reportedly turned down director David Lean to spend a year filming the sprawling epic in the desert. He was nominated eight times for an Oscar. Also made: “Becket” (1964), “The Lion in Winter” (1968) “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1969), “My Favorite Year” (1983) and “The Last Emperor” (1987).

Fontaine: Won an Oscar for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1941 thriller “Suspicion” opposite Cary Grant. She was the only Hitchcock-directed actor to ever win an Academy Award. That year she famously beat out de Havilland, her older sister, after which the two bitter rivals stopped speaking. In 1940 Fontaine had been nominated for “Rebecca,” which a newbie Hitchcock also directed. Also made: “The Constant Nymph” (1943), “Letter From an Unknown Woman” (1948), “Ivanhoe” (1952) and “Jane Eyre” (1944) opposite Orson Welles.

Laughlin: Wrote and starred in the “Billy Jack” series of movies about an anti-establishment, activist Vietnam veteran who is half-Native American. He was known for distributing his movies – the themes of which channeled his real-life distrust of authority – outside the traditional Hollywood studio system. Made: “Born Losers” (1967), “Billy Jack” (1971), “The Trial of Billy Jack” (1974) and “Billy Jack Goes to Washington” (1977).

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