Real Name: Eldred Gregory Peck
Birthplace: La Jolla, CA, USA
Death date: 07/12/2003
One of the 20th century's most celebrated film stars, Peck was best known for his Oscar-winning role as Atticus Finch in the film version of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).
Peck was born in La Jolla, California. His father was a druggist in San Diego. His parents divorced when he was five years old. An only child, he was sent to live with his grandmother. He never felt he had a stable childhood. His fond memories are of his grandmother taking him to the movies every week and of his dog, which followed him everywhere. He studied pre-med at Berkeley and, while there, Peck got the acting bug and decided to change the focus of his studies. He enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and debuted on Broadway after graduation. His debut was in Emlyn Williams' stage play "The Morning Star" (1942). By 1943, he was in Hollywood where he debuted in the RKO film Days of Glory (1944).
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) with Peck as a dedicated Roman Catholic missionary to China, that made him a star. This was the first of his incarnations as an authority figure of quiet dignity and uncompromising single-mindedness.
The next four decades saw him play variations of that character in "The Yearling" (1946), "The Macomber Affair" (1947), "The Gunfighter" (1950), "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" (1956), "The Guns of Navarone" (1961), "The Omen" (1976) and "Old Gringo" (1989), among many others. During the 50s in particular, Peck embodied a certain Everyman as hero, and he managed to be relaxed in the part whether it was his business executive in "Gray Flannel" or in his occasional comedies, "Roman Holiday" (1953) being the most successful film to tap into the unexpectedly lighthearted aspects of his screen persona.
"The Portrait" (1993), an adaptation of Tina Howe's play "Painting Churches" directed by Arthur Penn. In his last starring vehicle to date, Peck played an aging poet opposite Lauren Bacall as his wife and real-life daughter Cecilia as his painter daughter.
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 TV role, that of Abraham Lincoln in the 1982 CBS miniseries "The Blue and the Grey" (CBS). While still in good health into his 80s, he scorned the kind of grandfatherly roles coming his way but did not rule out a return to the big screen if the right project materialized.
Gregory Peck died peacefully in his Los Angeles home with his wife Veronique by his side. He was 87.
Gregory Peck Awards:
- 1978 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Nominee
- 1979 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Nominee
- 1998 Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie - Nominee
- 1945 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 1946 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 1947 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 1949 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 1962 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Winner
- 1967 Oscar: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award - Winner
- 1947 Golden Globe: Actor in a Leading Role - Winner
- 1999 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television - Winner
- 1963 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Winner
- 1964 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Nominee
- 1969 Golden Globe: Cecil B. DeMille Award - Winner
- 1951 Golden Globe: Henrietta Award (World Film Favorites) - Winner
- 1955 Golden Globe: Henrietta Award (World Film Favorites) - Winner