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Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck



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The RKO Brown & Carney Comedy... The laughter never stops in this riotous collection starring the comedy team of... more info $28.95was $35.99 Buy Now

The Yearling ... Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, Claude Jarmin Jr.. This Oscar-winning film about a... more info $14.36was $17.99 Buy Now

Pork Chop Hill ... As the Korean War rages, efforts being led to recapture Pork Chop Hill are... more info $18.71was $24.95 Buy Now

Only the Valiant ... Gregory Peck (The Gunfighter) is the hard-nosed leader of a rough group of... more info $14.96was $19.95 Buy Now

John F Kennedy: Years of... Made by the United States Information Agency in 1964 as a memorial tribute to... more info $10.95was $11.98 Buy Now

Scooby-Doo! and the Snow... Chill out as Scooby-Doo and the Mystery, Inc. Crew solve 3 cold and frosty... more info $7.95was $9.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Eldred Gregory Peck Died: June 11, 2003
Born: April 5, 1916 Cause of Death: natural causes
Birth Place: La Jolla, California, USA Profession: actor, producer, barker, tour guide


As an actor who conveyed moral certitude and unwavering strength, Gregory Peck became the unofficial conscience of postwar Hollywood, turning in several iconic performances in some of cinema's most important films. Peck began appearing in movies during the war with "Days of Glory" (1944) and became an almost instant star thanks to his Oscar-nominated performance in "The Keys of the Kingdom" (1945). He went on to portray an amnesiac psychoanalyst in Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound" (1945), turned in another Academy Award-worthy performance in 'The Yearling" (1946) and played against type in "Duel in the Sun" (1946). Following seminal work in "Twelve O'Clock High" (1949), "Roman Holiday" (1953) and "Moby Dick" (1956), Peck took on the role that became inextricably tied to his career, that of Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962), which earned him his only Oscar for Best Actor while inspiring audiences for generations. He had a major box office hit with "The Guns of Navarone" (1961), starred in the original "Cape Fear" (1962) and reunited with "Mockingbird" director Robert Mulligan for "The Stalking Moon" (1969). His career began to slow in the 1970s, though he was notable in "The Omen" (1976)...

As an actor who conveyed moral certitude and unwavering strength, Gregory Peck became the unofficial conscience of postwar Hollywood, turning in several iconic performances in some of cinema's most important films. Peck began appearing in movies during the war with "Days of Glory" (1944) and became an almost instant star thanks to his Oscar-nominated performance in "The Keys of the Kingdom" (1945). He went on to portray an amnesiac psychoanalyst in Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound" (1945), turned in another Academy Award-worthy performance in 'The Yearling" (1946) and played against type in "Duel in the Sun" (1946). Following seminal work in "Twelve O'Clock High" (1949), "Roman Holiday" (1953) and "Moby Dick" (1956), Peck took on the role that became inextricably tied to his career, that of Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962), which earned him his only Oscar for Best Actor while inspiring audiences for generations. He had a major box office hit with "The Guns of Navarone" (1961), starred in the original "Cape Fear" (1962) and reunited with "Mockingbird" director Robert Mulligan for "The Stalking Moon" (1969). His career began to slow in the 1970s, though he was notable in "The Omen" (1976) and "The Boys of Brazil" (1978). Following a turn as Abraham Lincoln in "The Blue and the Grey" (CBS, 1982) and his Emmy-nominated performance in a contemporary remake of "Moby Dick" (USA, 1998), Peck left behind a legacy as an iconic performer who exerted creative independence while becoming a beloved actor to generations fans.

Born on April 5, 1916 in La Jolla, CA, Peck was raised in a Catholic home by his father, Gregory, a druggist, and his mother, Bernice. When he was six years old, his parents divorced and he went to live with his maternal grandmother in Los Angeles, where he attended the St. John's Military Academy. But his grandmother soon died and his father resumed parenting duties, bringing his son back down to San Diego, where he graduated from San Diego High School. He spent a year studying at San Diego State College before transferring to the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied language and medicine, was a member of the rowing team and became interested in acting after a trip to New York City, where he was inspired by a Broadway production of "I Married an Angel" (1928). Upon his return to Berkeley, Peck withdrew from studying medicine and joined a small theater group on campus. He graduated in 1939 and made his way back to New York, where he attended the Playhouse School of Dramatics - later changed to the Neighborhood Playhouse - under a two-year scholarship, studying under Rita Morgenthau, Irene Lewisohn, Sanford Meisner and Martha Graham.

Peck's first couple of years in New York were nothing short of a struggle. Often broke, he worked as a barker at a concession stand for the 1939 World's Fair and a tour guide at Radio City Music Hall, though sometimes he lived hand-to-mouth and even slept in Central Park. Two years after his arrival, Peck made his professional stage debut with a small role in the touring company of "The Doctor's Dilemma" (1941), starring Katharine Cornell, and soon made his Broadway bow in "Morning Star" (1942). Peck's excellent notices were enough to attract the attention of Hollywood talent scouts. He would go on to sign contracts with RKO, 20th Century Fox, Selznick Productions and MGM. Because of a spinal injury suffered in dance class - not while rowing, as was commonly believed - Peck was exempt from service during World War II, which allowed the actor to fill in the void left behind by a scarcity of leading men. His first film, "Days of Glory" (1944), an over-ripe tribute to Russian peasant resistance against the Nazis, featured Peck as a strong-boned resistance leader. But it was "The Keys of the Kingdom" (1945) - in which he was a dedicated Roman Catholic missionary to China - that made him a star. It was the first of his incarnations as an authority figure of quiet dignity and uncompromising single-mindedness, and also the first of five Academy Award nominations for Best Actor.

Peck capitalized on his newfound star power and starred opposite Ingrid Bergman in Alfred Hitchcock's psychological suspense thriller, "Spellbound" (1945), in which he played a psychiatrist and troubled amnesiac who may have committed murder. He next played a warm and loving father in "The Yearling" (1946), earning another Oscar nod for Best Actor, while he was the complete opposite as a no-good, womanizing villain who seduces Jennifer Jones in King Vidor's "Duel in the Sun" (1946). After the unsuccessful adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's popular short story, "The Macomber Affair" (1947), Peck was a British barrister taking on the case of a woman (Alida Valli) accused of murdering her wealthy husband in Alfred Hitchcock's minor work, "The Paradine Case" (1947). Meanwhile, he garnered his third Oscar nomination for Best Actor as a writer who pretends to be Jewish to expose anti-Semitism in Elia Kazan's powerful drama "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947). Turning back to the Western with "Yellow Sky" (1948), he was the head of an outlaw gang who takes refuge in a frontier ghost town and butts heads with one of the lone inhabitants (Anne Baxter).

Peck earned a fourth Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his sterling performance in the World War II drama, "Twelve O'Clock High" (1949), in which he played a hard-driving brigadier general who sees the futility of boosting his men's morale as they prepare to be sent to their deaths on a dangerous bombing mission. In "The Gunfighter" (1950), Peck was an aging gunslinger who is sick of killing, but is forced into confrontation by a young outlaw - a role originally intended for John Wayne. Following leading turns in the biblical drama "David and Bathsheba" (1951) and the adaptation of Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" (1952), Peck showed his more lighthearted side with the romantic comedy "Roman Holiday" (1953), starring opposite Audrey Hepburn as an expatriate reporter from America who falls for her Princess Anne. Though Peck's contract stipulated that he receive solo top billing opposite the then-relatively unknown Hepburn, he suggested midway through shooting to director William Wyler that she should indeed receive equal billing - an unheard of gesture that demonstrated the actor's genuine nature. He next played a Canadian pilot trapped in Burma surrounded by the Japanese World War II drama "The Purple Plain" (1954) and was an ex-arm officer trying to be a television writer after the war in "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" (1956).

Peck next delivered one of his most indelible performances, channeling his maniacal obsession as Captain Ahab, who relentlessly pursues the great white whale in John Ford's adaptation of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" (1956). Peck enjoyed a successful producing career beginning with William Wyler's "The Big Country" (1958), a Western in which he starred as an ex-sea captain forced to take sides in battle against Burl Ives and sons over water rights. He followed with "Pork Chop Hill" (1959), an uncompromising war film that was almost documentary-like in its story of men dying for a worthless hill in the Korean War. He also appeared in Stanley Kramer's "On the Beach" (1959), which contained a strong message that mankind could destroy the Earth through nuclear war. Meanwhile, he made the first of four collaborations with director J. Lee Thompson on the classic war film, "The Guns of Navarone" (1961), in which he was part of an Allied force tasked with taking out a set of huge Nazi cannons that are well-placed and hard-to-reach on an Aegean island. The film was a major box office success and the top grossing film of that year.

The following year, Peck delivered his most iconic performances, portraying morally courageous small-town lawyer, Atticus Finch, in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962), a role that not only earned him his only Academy Award for Best Actor, but was considered by many as the one he was born to play. In fact, his own persona off screen was not unlike the character he played on screen, and Peck considered himself lucky to have managed to play such a beloved role. Also that year, he was an attorney whose family is stalked by a criminal (Robert Mitchum) he sent to jail in the original "Cape Fear" (1962), and joined an all-star cast that included Henry Fonda, Karl Malden, Debbie Reynolds, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart for the epic Western "How the West Was Won" (1962). He next battled stodgy bureaucracy and macho military mentality as an army psychiatrist in "Captain Newman, M.D." (1963), playing an aging Catalan guerilla in "Behold a Pale Horse" (1964) and an unconscious amnesiac trying to piece together his forgotten life in the Hitchcockian thriller "Mirage" (1965).

After narrating the memorial tribute documentary "John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums" (1966), Peck starred opposite Sophia Loren in the political thriller "Arabesque" (1966), before reteaming with "Mockingbird" director Robert Mulligan for the Western "The Stalking Moon" (1969). He next reunited with Thompson for "Mackenna's Gold" (1969) and "The Chairman" (1969), and was a small town sheriff who develops a relationship with a local girl (Tuesday Weld) in John Frankenheimer's "I Walk the Line" (1970). In 1971, Peck received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, and that year played a prisoner falsely imprisoned for a bank robbery seeking revenge on the man who set him up in Henry Hathaway's Western "Shoot Out" (1971). Following two features he produced but in which he did not act, "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine" (1972) and The Dove" (1974), Peck returned to the screen for "The Omen" (1976), playing a U.S. ambassador who inadvertently replaces his dead newborn son with the spawn of the devil. He followed up by playing two diametrically opposed historical characters, portraying World War II hero "MacArthur" (1977) and the despicable Dr. Joseph Mengele in "The Boys of Brazil" (1978), a role that alienate some of his fans.

A lifelong Democrat, Peck acquired the reputation as Hollywood's house liberal, a fact which earned him a spot on fellow Californian Richard Nixon's infamous enemies list and later made him Ronald Reagan's "former friend." As his film career wound down, his philanthropic efforts in support of arts organizations flowered, with Peck working tirelessly as a founder of the American Film Institute, three-term president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and member of the National Council of Arts, making him seem less an actor than a politician. As such, it seemed fitting that the two Pecks finally melded when he was cast in his first dramatic television role, playing Abraham Lincoln in the four-part miniseries "The Blue and the Grey" (CBS, 1982). He next was a priest saving Jews in World War II in "The Scarlet and the Black" (CBS, 1983) and made a cameo as the U.S. President in the anti-nuclear film, "Amazing Grace and Chuck" (1987). Back on the big screen, he starred opposite Jane Fonda and Jimmy Smits in "Old Gringo" (1989) and played the lawyer for Max Cady (Robert De Niro) in Martin Scorsese's remake of "Cape Fear" (1991).

Still active well into his eighties, Peck executive produced "The Portrait" (TNT, 1993), an adaptation of Tina Howe's play "Painting Churches" directed by Arthur Penn. It was his last starring vehicle, in which Peck played an aging poet opposite Lauren Bacall as his wife and real-life daughter Cecilia Peck as his painter daughter. Having played Starbuck in a college production of Melville's epic and bedeviled the great white whale as Ahab in the 1956 feature, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to act a third time in "Moby Dick," earning an Emmy nomination for his turn as the fire-and-brimstone preacher - played by Orson Welles in John Ford's movie - in the 1998 version broadcast on USA Network. The role would prove to be Peck's last fictional turn before the cameras before his death from bronchopneumonia on June 12, 2003 in Los Angeles. He was 87 years old and left behind a glorious career rivaled only by a select few.

By Shawn Dwyer


Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

 Jack Lemmon: America's Everyman (1996) Interviewee
 Charlton Heston: For All Seasons (1995) Interviewee
 Roger Moore: A Matter of Class (1995) Interviewee
 The Portrait (1993) Gardner Church
 Cape Fear (1991) Lee Heller
 Other People's Money (1991) Andrew "Jorgy" Jorgenson

Milestones close milestones

Began performing a one-man show of anecdotes and film clips from his career, "An Evening with Gregory Peck" (originally entitled "A Conversation with Gregory Peck"); TNT has completed an untitled documentary about these shows, written by daughter Cecilia Peck; Mary Badham, who played Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird", came to a 1995 show in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the two reenacted a "Mockingbird" scene together; retired the production in February 2000
First association with director Andrew V McLaglen, "The Sea Wolves"
First film based on an Ernest Hemingway story "The Macomber Affair"
Fourth film with King, "The Snows of Kiliminjaro"; his second film based on a Hemingway story; second of three films with Ava Gardner
Professional stage debut, had small role in the touring company of "The Doctor's Dilemma" starring Katharine Cornell
Provided the recorded voice of Florenz Ziegfeld in the Broadway musical "The Will Rogers Follies"
Sixth and last picture with King, "Beloved Infidel", miscast him as writer F Scott Fitzgerald, but he believed (rightly or wrongly) his scenes of despair and drunkenness were among the best he ever did
Stoically endured a plate of spaghetti tipped in his lap by Lauren Bacall in "Designing Women"
While a 19-year-old undergraduate at UC-Berkely, acted in his first play, an adaptation of "Moby Dick", in which he played the first mate Starbuck
Essayed the title role in Thompson's "Mackenna's Gold"; also acted that year in Thompson's "The Chairman"
Film acting debut, "Days of Glory"
Film producing debut, Wyler's "The Big Country" (co-produced by Wyler); also starred
First collaboration with director William Wyler, "Roman Holiday", the film which introduced Audrey Hepburn to the public
Last feature film roles to date, a co-starring role in "Other People's Money" and a cameo in Martin Scorsese's remake of "Cape Fear"
Offered a striking performance as "MacArthur"
Played the conscience-laden platoon commander in Korean War drama "Pork Chop Hill"; also produced (with Sy Bartlett)
Portrayed Captain Ahab in John Huston's "Moby Dick"
Portrayed fire and brimstone preacher in USA Network miniseries version of "Moby Dick", receiving an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe Award for his efforts
Produced (with Bartlett) and starred in Thompson's "Cape Fear"
Received second Best Actor Academy Award nod as the father in "The Yearling"
Starred as King's "The Gunfighter", attempting to overcome his bloody past; voted "Cowboy of the Year" (over John Wayne!) on the strength of his performance; also turned down the following year's "High Noon" (which earned Gary Cooper an Oscar) because he didn't want to do back-to-back Westerns
Suffered spinal injury; could no longer compete in sports
Travelled to New York with Berkeley crew team for competition; stopped off in NYC and saw first Broadway show, "I Married an Angel"; inspired to become an actor
TV acting debut as Abraham Lincoln in the CBS miniseries "The Blue and the Gray", directed by McLaglen
After graduating, moved to NYC
Broadway debut in "The Morning Star"
Earned first Best Actor Oscar nomination for his second feature, "The Keys of the Kingdom"
First of four collaborations with director J Lee Thompson, "The Guns of Navarone"
Last feature producing credit to date, "The Dove"; did not act in picture
Narrated the documentary "From Russia to Hollywood: The 100-Year Odyssey of Chekhov and Shdanoff"
Played a reporter uncovering anti-semitism in Elia Kazan's "Gentleman's Agreement", earned third Academy Award nomination as Best Actor
Played Ambrose Bierce in "Old Gringo", adapted from the novel by Carlos Fuentes
Produced and starred in "Behold a Pale Horse"
Raised in Southern California
Reteamed with Walsh as the skipper in "The World in His Arms"
Rushed to hospital and underwent surgery for appendicitis in the Czech Republic
Snagged fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination for his riveting portrayal of a commander cracking under the strain of war in "Twelve O'Clock High"; first of six films with director Henry King
Starred in Richard Donner's "The Omen" as the father of a child who could be the Anti-Christ
Acted in Alfred Hitchcok's "Spellbound"
Executive produced and starred opposite Bacall and his daughter Cecilia in Arthur Penn's "The Portrait" (TNT)
Finally took home the Best Actor Oscar as liberal country lawyer Atticus Finch (what he calls his signature role) in Robert Mulligan's "To Kill a Mockingbird", based on the Harper Lee novel
Portrayed Joseph Mengele in "The Boys from Brazil"
Produced "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine"; did not act in picture
Reteamed with Hitchcock on "The Paradine Case"
Reteamed with Mulligan for "The Stalking Moon"
Spotted by talent scouts and signed to contracts by four film studios
Starred opposite Sophia Loren in Stanley Donen's secret agent thriller "Arabesque"
Took to the high seas as Raoul Walsh's "Captain Horatio Hornblower"
Worked as a barker at a concession in the amusement zone of the New York World's Fair and later as a tour guide at Radio City Music Hall


San Diego High School: San Diego, California -
San Diego State College: San Diego, California -
Little Red Schoolhouse: La Jolla, California -
St John's Military Academy: Los Angeles, California -
University of California at Berkeley: Berkeley, California - 1939
University of California at Berkeley: Berkeley, California - 1939
Playhouse School of Dramatics: New York, New York - 1939


"If now and then through luck and circumstance, we get into a film that someone might call a work of film art, so much the better; that's an extra bonus. If now and then we get into one that has something to say on a social issue or that gives people food for thought on something of importance in their lives or in terms of social problems that, too, is a bonus. But really, the name of the game is to entertain--never to bore--and to do it well, with expertise and precision and professionalism." --Gregory Peck, quoted in Orbit Video, April 1989.

"Before you stands a talent that is seamless, effortless. One could fear that, with the career he's had, he would take a lot for granted, but he's hungry, driven, as passionate as any young actor with the smoothness of seasoned talent. He's absolutely incredible." --Jane Fonda, from PR for "Old Gringo"

Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 by Lyndon Johnson.

Honored with the 1992 gala tribute of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Peck was one of a group of friends who founded the La Jolla Playhouse in the 40s and still devotes time raising money for it. He is also a fundraiser on behalf of the film department of University College in Dublin, Ireland.

Asked how he would play Captain Ahab now, given the benefit of time: "Better. I think I should have been more ferocious in pursuit of the whale, more cruel to the crew, and I think I have a better grasp now of what Melville was talking about. He was trying to find an answer to the eternal mysteries. Ahab focused all his energies on avenging himself against the whale, but he was trying to penetrate the mystery of why we were here at all, why there is anything. I wasn't mad enough, not crazy enough, not obsessive enough. I should have done more."

(After a long pause) "At the time I didn't have more in me." --Peck, to Claudia Dreifus in The New York Times, May 4, 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

Greta Rice. Hairdresser. Met during the 1941 tour of "The Doctor's Dilemma" when she worked as Katharine Cornell's hairdresser; married in October 1942; divorced in 1954; mother of Peck's three older children.
Veronique Passani. Writer. Married on December 31, 1955; mother of Peck's two younger children.

Family close complete family listing

Gregory Peck. Druggist. Divorced from Peck's mother c. 1922.
Bernice Peck. Divorced from Peck's father c. 1922.
Jonathan Peck. Journalist. Born on July 20, 1944; mother, Greta Rice; committed suicide in 1975.
Stephen Peck. Born on August 16, 1946; mother, Greta Rice; created Far From Home, organization which assists homeless veterans.
Carey Paul Peck. Born on June 17, 1949; mother, Greta Rice.
Tony Peck. Actor. Born in October 1956; mother, Veronique Passani; married to Cheryl Tiegs on November 23, 1990.
Cecilia Peck. Actor. Born in May 1958; mother, Veronique Passani; married to Daniel Voll on September 8, 2001.
Zachery Anthony Peck. Born on October 1, 1991; father, Anthony Peck.
Harper Vol. Born in February 1999; mother, Cecelia Peck.

Bibliography close complete biography

"An Actor's Life"
"The Films of Gregory Peck" Citadel Press
"Gregory Peck: A Biography" Scribner

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