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|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|
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emy 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)...
emy 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 Dwyerund" (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 Acad
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"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.
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