GREGORY PECK- Gregory Peck was born on April3, 1918in 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 fondest 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 UC-Berkeley and, while there, got bitten by 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’ play “The Morning Star” (1942). By 1943 he was in Hollywood, where he debuted in the RKO film Days of Glory (1944).
Stardom came with his next film, The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Peck’s screen presence displayed the qualities for which he became well known. He was tall, rugged and heroic, with a basic decency that transcended his roles. He appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) as an amnesia victim accused of murder. In The Yearling (1946), he was again nominated for an Academy Award and won the Golden Globe. He was especially effective in westerns and appeared in such varied fare as David O. Selznick’s critically blasted Duel in the Sun (1946), the somewhat better received Yellow Sky (1948) and the acclaimed The Gunfighter (1950). He was nominated again for the Academy Award for his roles in Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), which dealt with anti-Semitism, and Twelve O’Clock High (1949), a story of high-level stress in an Air Force bomber unit in World War II.
With a string of hits to his credit, Peck made the decision to only work in films that interested him. He continued to appear as the heroic, larger-than-life figures in such films as Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951) and Moby Dick (1956). He worked with Audrey Hepburn in her debut film, Roman Holiday (1953). Peck finally won the Oscar, after four nominations, for his performance as lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). In the early 1960s he appeared in two darker films than he usually made, Cape Fear (1962) and Captain Newman, M.D. (1963), which dealt with the way people live. He also gave a powerful performance as Capt. Keith Mallory in The Guns of Navarone (1961), one of the biggest box-office hits of that year.
In the early 1970s he produced two films, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (1972) and The Dove (1974), when his film career stalled. He made a comeback playing, somewhat woodenly, Robert Thorn in the horror film The Omen (1976). After that, he returned to the bigger-than-life roles he was best known for, such as MacArthur (1977) and the monstrous Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele in the huge hit The Boys from Brazil (1978). In the 1980s he moved into television with the mini-series The Blue and the Gray (1982) and The Scarlet and the Black (1983). In 1991 he appeared in the remake of his 1962 film, playing a different part, in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear (1991). He was also cast as the progressive-thinking owner of a wire and cable business in Other People’s Money (1991).
In 1967 Peck received the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. He was also been awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. Always politically progressive, Peck was active in such causes as anti-war protests, workers’ rights and civil rights. He died in June 2003, aged 87.
He Almost always played courageous, nobly heroic good guys who saw injustice and fought it.
A distinctive low-pitched voice. Films often reflected his liberal political views
Often plays leaders or authority figures
His earliest movie memory is of being so scared by The Phantom of the Opera (1925) at age 9 that his grandmother allowed him to sleep in the bed with her that night.
U.C. Berkeley graduate (BA ’39), oarsman on Cal’s JV crew.
Of his own movies, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) is Peck’s favourite.
Children, with Greta Kukkonen: Jonathan Peck (b. 1944 – d. 1975), Stephen Peck (b. 1946) and Carey Paul Peck (b. 1949).
Children with Veronique Peck: Tony Peck (b. 1956) and Cecilia Peck (b. 1958).
Oldest son, Jon, committed suicide by gunshot.
Chairman, Motion Picture & Television Relief Fund.
Recipient, Presidential Medal of Freedom, nation’s highest civilian award, awarded by Lyndon Johnson.
(1968-1974) Charter Member, National Council on the Arts.
National Chairman, American Cancer Society.
(1964-1966) Charter Member, National Council on the Arts.
(1967-1969) Chairman, American Film Institute. He was the first Chairman of the AFI.
Stating he was worried about the 600,000 jobs hanging on the survival of the Chrysler Corporation, he volunteered to become an unpaid TV pitchman for the company in 1980.
He took in former co-star Ava Gardner’s housekeeper and dog after her death in 1990.
He was in the original version of Cape Fear (1962) in 1962, playing Sam Bowden. He was later brought back for a part in another version of Cape Fear (1991), playing Max Cady’s attorney.
Honourary chair, Los Angeles Library Foundation.
Was president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences from 1967-1970. He made the decision to postpone the 1968 Oscar ceremony after Martin Luther King’s assassination.
Chosen by producer Darryl F. Zanuck for the epic film David and Bathsheba (1951) because Zanuck thought Peck had a “biblical face”.
His ancestry included English, Irish, and distant Welsh. His paternal grandparents were Samuel Peck and Catherine Ashe, and his maternal grandparents were John Daggett Ayers and Katherine Elizabeth Forse. His paternal grandmother was an immigrant from County Kerry, Ireland. She was a relative of Thomas Ashe, an Irish patriot who fought in the Easter Rising in 1916 and died on hunger strike the following year. Many of Gregory’s other ancestors were from families that had lived in New England since the 1600s.
Seriously considered challenging then California Governor Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1970 but decided against it at the last minute despite state and national pressure from the Democrat Party of California and The Democratic National Committee.
Marched with Martin Luther King.
His character from To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Atticus Finch, was voted the greatest screen hero of all time by the American Film Institute in May 2003, only two weeks before his death (beating out Indiana Jones, who was placed second, and James Bond who came third).
Along with Dorothy McGuire, Mel Ferrer and David O. Selznick, he co-founded the La Jolla Playhouse, located in his hometown, and produced many of the classics there. Due to film commitments, he could not return to Broadway but whet his appetite for live theater on occasion at the Playhouse, keeping it firmly established with a strong, reputable name over the years.
During his lean salad days, he supported himself as a Radio City Music Hall tour guide and as a catalog model for Montgomery Ward.
Brock Peters delivered his eulogy on the day of his funeral and burial, June 16, 2003. In To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Peters played Tom Robinson, the black man accused of raping a white girl that Atticus Finch (Peck’s character) defended in court.
Was the first native Californian to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.
A back injury incurred in college kept him out of the services in World War II.
He was i Gregory Peck was born on April3, 1918 Gregory Peck was born on April3, 1918nducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1979.
Son, Stephen did a tour in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. Peck was proud of his son’s military service even though he disagreed with the war itself.
When he arrived in Italy to shoot Roman Holiday (1953), Gregory was privately depressed about his recent separation and imminent divorce from his first wife, Greta. However, during the shoot, he met and fell in love with a French woman named Veronique Peck. After his divorce, he married Passani and they remained together for the rest of his life. So, in a way, he lived out his own “movie romance”.
According to at least one biography, he took his role in The Omen (1976) at a huge cut in salary (a mere $250,000) but was guaranteed 10% of the film’s box office take. It went on to gross more than $60 million in the U.S. alone, and became the film for which he earned the most money in his career.
While studying at UC Berkeley, Peck was a houseboy for the school’s chapter of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority.
He was voted the 58th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Attended San Diego High School.
He was voted the 27th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
Named the #12 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends list by the American Film Institute
In late November of 2005, thieves stole Peck’s “Hollywood Walk of Fame” star using a cement saw to cut the bronze-and-terrazzo marker out of the sidewalk. In a simple ceremony, a new star honoring the late actor was unveiled on December 1st to replace the stolen one. Hollywood’s honorary mayor Johnny Grant lifted a covering and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly welcome back to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Gregory Peck.” Peck’s star was the fourth to be stolen since the Walk of Fame was inaugurated. James Stewart’s and Kirk Douglas’ stars disappeared some years ago after being removed for construction and were later recovered by police in the nearby city of South Gate. Gene Autry’s star also vanished during a construction project. A call saying it had been found in Iowa proved to be a false alarm.
He and The Big Country (1958) co-star Charlton Heston both played the infamous Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele: Peck in The Boys from Brazil (1978), Heston in Rua Alguem 5555: My Father (2003).
In the spring of 1939, Peck skipped graduation at the University of California at Berkeley and, with $160 and a letter of introduction in his pocket, went by train to New York, traveling coach, to embark on his acting career.
Studied acting with Michael Chekhov
Father-in-law of Daniel Voll.
He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1998 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.
Was Warner Bros. original choice to play Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). He was offered the role and seriously considered it but passed away before he could give them an answer.
His performance as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) is ranked #13 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
Cited that his favorite leading ladies were Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, and Ava Gardner.
Once owned a thoroughbred named “Different Class,” who was the favorite in the 1968 Grand National Steeplechase in the UK – but finished 3rd.
In 1997, as a presenter at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) awards ceremony, he said, “It just seems silly to me that something so right and simple has to be fought for at all.”
Mourners for the public service held after his burial held huge black-and-white portraits of Peck as they approached the Cathedral, designed by artist/sculptor Robert Graham, husband of Anjelica Huston. Church officials estimated that almost 3,000 people attended. Seats were reserved for Peck’s friends, a sizable number of whom were celebrities – they were instructed to whisper the secret password “Atticus” to the red-coated ushers who escorted them to the reserved section – Harry Belafonte, Anjelica Huston, Michael York, Louise Fletcher, Tony Danza, Piper Laurie, Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart. Michael Jackson, wearing a red jacket, caused a stir when he arrived 20 minutes late. Decked out in a bright blue suit and clutching a program with Peck’s picture on it was his first wife Greta, looking hale and hearty at 92. Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, presided over the service. The program included bible readings by Peck’s children Carey, Cecilia and Tony. Mahoney said, “He lived his life authentically, as God called and willed him and placed him in his room, with gifts and talents.” Brock Peters, who played the black man defended by Peck’s character Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), delivered the eulogy. The film spawned a close friendship between the two stars that lasted more than 40 years. “In art there is compassion,” said Peters, “in compassion there is humanity, with humanity there is generosity and love. Gregory Peck gave us these attributes in full measure.” The crowd visibly warmed to a videotape performance of Peck featuring a lecture he gave several years before. He said he hoped to be remembered first as a good husband, father and grandfather. Then, with quiet strength and unforgettable presence, he added: “I’d like to be thought of as a good storyteller”.
He had always wanted to do a Walt Disney movie.
In the 1950s, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson, AZ, named one of their male javalinas “Gregory Peckory” in his honor; incidentally, their female was named “Olivia de Javalina” to honor actress Olivia de Havilland.
He was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, while remaining supportive of his son who was serving there.
In 1947, at the beginning of the anti-communist investigations in Hollywood, Peck signed a letter deploring the witch hunts despite being warned his signature could hurt his career.
Broke his ankle in three places in a fall from a horse while filming Yellow Sky (1948).
Turned down Gary Cooper’s Oscar-winning role as Marshal Will Kane in High Noon (1952) because he felt the story was too similar to his The Gunfighter (1950). When the film proved to be a huge success Peck admitted he had made a mistake, though he said he didn’t believe he could have played the character as well as Cooper.
In 1999 he supported the decision to give Elia Kazan an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement, saying he believed that a man’s work should be separate from his life.
He was a close friend of Michael Jackson for the last 25 years of his life, and often went horse riding with the singer at his Neverland Ranch. During the Jordie Chandler scandal in 1993, Peck wrote a letter defending Jackson. He also gave a glowing video tribute to Jackson at his 30th Anniversary concert in New York in 2001.
In 1987 he joined Burt Lancaster, Martin Sheen and Lloyd Bridges in narrating a TV commercial for the People for the American Way, opposing the confirmation of President Ronald Reagan’s nominee to the Supreme Court, ultra-conservative judge Robert Bork. Bork, who came under intense criticism in part because of his past vociferous opposition to civil rights laws, ultimately failed to be confirmed by the Senate.
He was a close friend of Jane Fonda, and frequently attended political rallies with her.
He was an active supporter of AIDS fund raising.
Advertised Chesterfield cigarettes.
In 1946 he met and befriended Gary Cooper, with whom he was often compared in terms of looks and acting style.
During the Vietnam War Peck was a vocal supporter of teenagers who dodged the draft, calling them “patriots” and “heroes” and saying that burning their draft cards was part of their civic duty. He produced an anti-war film, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (1972) using his own money in order to provoke more opposition to the conflict.
Appeared on President Richard Nixon’s infamous “List of Enemies” in 1972.
After Peck stormed off the set of The Big Country (1958), director William Wyler said of him: “I wouldn’t direct Peck again for a million dollars and you can quote me on that.”.
As a board member of Handgun Control Inc. (along with Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon), Peck was sometimes criticized for his friendship with Charlton Heston, a longtime advocate of gun ownership who served as President of the National Rifle Assocation (NRA) from 1998 to 2003. When questioned by James Brady, Peck said, “We’re colleagues rather than friends. We’re civil to each other when we meet. I, of course, disagree vehemently with him on gun control.”.
In his 80s his frail and thin appearance frequently sparked press rumors of his impending death, particularly when in 2001 he attended Jack Lemmon’s funeral with his head bandaged from a recent fall.
He was given the role of Ambassador Robert Thorn in The Omen (1976) after Charlton Heston turned it down in order to make Midway (1976).
In 1948, amid the anti-Communist hysteria sweeping the country during the McCarthy “Red Scare” era, he was called before a “fact finding committee” set up by the California Legislature to ferret out alleged Communists and their sympathizers in the entertainment industry. He was summoned because of his association with a host of “liberal” organizations and causes, along with several other stars. He gave the committee a list of every organization to which he had contributed money, along with their letterheads, and said that he contributed to them because they were legitimate organizations. He told the committee, “I am not now and never have been associated with any communist organization or supporters of communism. I am not a communist, never was a communist and I have no sympathy with communist activities”.
He was a heavy drinker as a young actor in Hollywood. In 1949 he was hospitalized with heart spasms, and while filming David and Bathsheba (1951) he was hospitalized with a suspected heart attack. Though it turned out to be a palpitation brought on by his lifestyle and overwork, he began to drink less thereafter. However, he did not stop smoking for many more years.
His few attempts to play a villain were considered unsuccessful, perhaps because the public could not accept Peck as anything other than good. He was considered too young at 38 (the movie was filmed in 1954) to play Captain Ahab in Moby Dick (1956), especially since the character was described in Herman Melville’s novel as an old man. Peck admitted he only agreed to play Nazi Dr Josef Mengele in The Boys from Brazil (1978) because he wanted to work with Sir Laurence Olivier. Although the film and his performance were savaged by the critics, Peck remained loyal to it.
He was originally cast in the role played by Robert Taylor in Quo Vadis (1951).
Campaigned for Harry S. Truman in the 1948 presidential election.
He did not get along with director Elia Kazan while filming Gentleman’s Agreement (1947). Kazan told the press he was very disappointed with Peck’s performance and the two men never worked together again.
After making Arabesque (1966), Peck withdrew from acting for three years in order to concentrate on various humanitarian causes, including the American Cancer Society.
He is listed in the Cal Berkeley Alumni roster as a graduate of the Class of 1942 who studied as an English major and where he acted in plays at the Associated Students sponsored ‘Little Theatre’ on campus. Incidentally while under the watch of the University’s Committee on Music and Drama led by Professor William Popper as chairman, the University’s Department of Dramatic Arts was just being established towards the end of his student tenure in 1941.
In 1996, veteran character actor Richard Jaeckel, Peck’s costar in The Gunfighter (1950), was diagnosed with cancer, and Jaeckel’s wife had Alzheimer’s disease. The Jaeckels had lost their Brentwood home, were over $1 million in debt, and Jaeckel was basically homeless. His family tried unsuccessfully to enter him into Woodland Hills Motion Picture and Television Hospital. Peck lobbied for Jaeckel’s admittance and he was treated within three days. Jaeckel stayed in the hospital until his passing in June 1997.
The financial failure of Cape Fear (1962) ended his company, Melville Productions.
Only the Valiant (1951) was his least favorite film. He thought the western potboiler was a step backwards after starring in The Gunfighter (1950).
When he was the President of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Science, he tried his hardest to get a full-length animated feature film (most notably the The Jungle Book (1967)) not only nominated for Best Picture Academy Award but actually win the award. He resigned as President in 1970 when other members didn’t agree with him about animated films being nominated for the award. Twenty-one years after he resigned Beauty and the Beast (1991) became the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture although it did not win.
Turned down Yves Montand’s role in Let’s Make Love (1960) because he didn’t want to work with Marilyn Monroe.
Son of Gregory Pearl Peck and wife Bernice Mae Ayres.
He had always wanted to act in a Shakespearean play, but by the time the opportunity presented itself in 1951 he decided it was too late to start.
Formed a solid friendship with Mary Badham, who played his daughter “Scout” in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). They remained in contact until his passing. According to Badham, she always called him “Atticus” and he always called her “Scout”.
His favorite singers were Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson. He was also a big fan of Elton John.
His favorite drink was Guinness, which he drank every day. Eventually he had a tap installed in the bar at his house.
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Peck among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking at No. 12.
A physically powerful man, Peck was known to do a majority of his own fight scenes, rarely using body or stunt doubles. Robert Mitchum, his on-screen opponent in Cape Fear (1962), said that Peck once accidentally punched him for real during their final fight scene in the movie. He recalled feeling the impact of the punch for days afterwards and said, “I don’t feel sorry for anyone dumb enough who picks a fight with him.”.
In December 2002 Peck visited his wife in hospital in Los Angeles after she underwent surgery to relieve pressure on two vertebrae. The sight of the veteran actor in hospital sparked more press rumors that he was seriously ill.
His mother died in May 1992 at the age of 97.
Agreed to star in David and Bathsheba (1951) as a riposte to the Biblical epics of Cecil B. DeMille.
By 1974, following a series of flops, Peck’s career had declined to such an extent that he admitted in an interview that he was thinking of retiring from acting. Two years later however he made an enormous comeback with The Omen (1976).
He was considered for Rock Hudson’s role in Ice Station Zebra (1968).
One of his greatest heroes from childhood was President Abraham Lincoln. Peck was initially concerned about playing him in The Blue and the Gray (1982), since at 66 he was a decade older than Lincoln was when he was assassinated. Some 17 years later, when he was the director Rod Lurie ‘s first choice to play the role of a fictional U.S. President in The Contender (2000), he declined saying he was ‘too damn old.’.
In the early 1990s Peck considered writing his autobiography, however he decided against it when he realized he wasn’t as good at writing as his friend David Niven.
Often stated how disappointed he was that many American viewers did not realize how anti-war The Guns of Navarone (1961) was.
MGM wanted Peck to play Roger Thornhill in North by Northwest (1959), but the director Alfred Hitchcock thought Peck was too serious and cast Cary Grant instead.
He was a lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons, and made On the Beach (1959) for this reason.
Personally chose Lewis Milestone to direct the anti-war movie Pork Chop Hill (1959), because Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) had made a deep impression on him.
In 1999 he publicly berated Congress for failing to pass legislation preventing teenagers from buying guns, following the Columbine high school massacre.
His election as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1967 was widely seen as heralding in a new, younger, progressive and decidedly liberal era of filmmaking in Hollywood.
While filming The Bravados (1958), he decided to become a cowboy in real life, so he purchased a vast working ranch near Santa Barbara, California – already stocked with 600 head of prize cattle.
He was a close friend and ardent supporter of President Lyndon Johnson, spending much time at the White House and the Johnson Ranch.
Biography in: “The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives”. Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 417-420. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
He regularly visited Humphrey Bogart while filming Designing Woman (1957) with Bogart’s wife Lauren Bacall. Peck was reportedly devastated by the star’s death in January 1957.
Was the second choice to play Prof. Henry Jones Sr. in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), had first choice Sean Connery declined the role. Star Harrison Ford cited Peck as one of his favorite actors and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) as one of his favorite films.
He was a close friend of former French President Jacques Chirac.
He visited Michael Jackson on the set of filming the “Smooth Criminal” segment for Moonwalker (1988). Also visiting the set was Robert De Niro and Bruce Willis.
Was kept out of military service during WWII due to a back injury.
In February 1955 Peck was set to star in The Proud Ones (1956), but the role was eventually played by Robert Ryan.
Was offered but declined the role of Det. Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O (1968).
Grandfather of actor Ethan Peck.
His picture appears on a nondenominated USA commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, issued 28 April 2011. Peck is shown as the character Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Price on day of issue was 44¢. First day of issue ceremonies were held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
According to director Lewis Milestone, Pork Chop Hill was cut by nearly twenty minutes because the wife of star Gregory Peck felt that her husband made his first entrance too late into the picture. True or not, the film does show signs of post-production tampering, with flashes of several excised scenes showing up under the main title credits.
Was a lifelong Democrat and generously donated time and money to many causes.
The name “Gregory Peck” is used as the Cockney Rhyming Slang for neck (as used traditionally by the inhabitants of East London), so the expression “Get it down your Gregory” means “Drink this!”.
Is one of 8 actors who have received an Oscar nomination for their performance as a priest. The others, in chronological order, are: Spencer Tracy for San Francisco (1936) and Boys Town (1938); Charles Bickford for The Song of Bernadette (1943); Bing Crosby for Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945); Barry Fitzgerald for Going My Way (1944); Karl Malden for On the Waterfront (1954); Jason Miller for The Exorcist (1973); and Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt (2008). Tracy, Crosby and Fitzgerald all won Oscars for their performances.
Orson Welles had once hoped to make a film of the DC Comics hero Batman with Peck in the lead role but the project never came to fruition.
Mark Waid and Alex Ross based the design of the older Bruce Wayne/Batman on Peck for Their seminal 1996 graphic novel ”Kingdom Come”. Frank Miller also based the design of young Bruce in his iconic story ”Batman: Year One”.
Travelling in Alabama making campaign appearances for Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Donald W. Stewart, who was running in a special election to complete the term of U.S. Senator James B. Allen, who had died in office. Stewart won the seat. [October 1978]
Became friends with Audrey Hepburn after working with her in Roman Holiday (1953). Peck successfully persuaded Paramount executives to give her top billing rather than “Introducing” credit, because he strongly believed the film would make her a star. Indeed, Hepburn would win the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 1954 Oscars and they both remained close until her death in 1993. That same year, Peck presented her son Sean H. Ferrer with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in recognition for her work with UNICEF.
Owned a race horse called Owen Sedge which he saw come 7th in the 1963 Grand National. He then flew back to the States to attended the Oscar ceremony and won Best Actor Award for To Kill a Mocking Bird.