George Peppard


Actor
George Peppard

About

Birth Place
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Born
October 01, 1928
Died
May 08, 1994
Cause of Death
Pneumonia

Biography

A charismatic leading man in features and television for over three decades, actor George Peppard burst on the scene in the early 1960s as dashing, occasionally insouciant anti-heroes in "Home from the Hill" (1960) and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1960) before finding his greatest success as the cigar-chewing leader of TV's "The A-Team" (NBC, 1983-87). Though praised by critics for "How the...

Photos & Videos

Operation Crossbow - Comic Book
How the West Was Won - Program Book
Operation Crossbow - Publicity Stills

Family & Companions

Helen Davies
Wife
Married 1954, divorced 1965.
Elizabeth Ashley
Wife
Actor. Married 1966; twice married, twice divorced.
Sherry Boucher
Wife
Married 1975.
Laura Peppard
Wife
Last of five marriages; married September 10, 1992; survived him.

Biography

A charismatic leading man in features and television for over three decades, actor George Peppard burst on the scene in the early 1960s as dashing, occasionally insouciant anti-heroes in "Home from the Hill" (1960) and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1960) before finding his greatest success as the cigar-chewing leader of TV's "The A-Team" (NBC, 1983-87). Though praised by critics for "How the West Was Won" (1962) and "The Blue Max" (1966), his greatest performance may have been as Audrey Hepburn's smitten admirer in "Tiffany's." The detective drama "Banacek" (NBC, 1972-74) gave him another career boost, but his turn as the devil-may-care Hannibal Smith on "The A-Team" made him a star all over again. Cancer cut his revival short in 1994, but his body of work kept his legacy alive after his passing.

George Peppard Jr. was born Oct. 1, 1928 in Detroit, MI to his father, building contractor George Peppard, Sr., and mother, Vernelle Rohrer, a light-opera singer and voice teacher. George, Jr. graduated from Dearborn High School in Dearborn, MI before joining the Marine Corp. at the age of 17 in 1946. After reaching the rank of corporal, he left the service in 1948 and attended Purdue University, where he studied civil engineering. He was also a member of the Purdue Playmakers, which led to his stage debut at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in 1949. After acquiring his bachelor's degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1955, he moved to New York City and joined the famed Actors Studio, where he studied under Lee Strasberg. His Broadway debut arrived in 1956 in a production of "The Girls of Summer" at the Longacre Theater. That same year, he made his television debut opposite Paul Newman in an adaptation of "Bang the Drum Slowly" on "The United States Steel Hour" (ABC, 1953-55). His first feature film, "The Strange One" (1957), with Ben Gazzara - also making his film debut - as a brutal cadet at a Southern military academy and Peppard as a victimized fellow student, came a year later.

Peppard returned to Broadway in 1958's "The Pleasure of His Company," which earned him a contract with MGM. Though he narrowly missed landing the Steve McQueen role in "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), he impressed with strong supporting roles in "Home from the Hill" (1960), which earned him a National Board of Review Award as the illegitimate son of Robert Mitchum and Eleanor Parker, and the all-star Korean War movie, "Pork Chop Hill" (1959). His first starring role came with "The Subterraneans" (1960), a film version of Jack Kerouac's novel of the beatnik culture in San Francisco. Universally decried by critics and the author's supporters for its sanitized approach to the source material, it was an ignoble start to his career as a leading man. Thankfully, his next picture was "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1960), which restored his reputation in the eyes of movieg rs and theater owners alike.

A sweet and frothy concoction from director Blake Edwards, Peppard played writer Paul Varjak, a "kept man" by wealthy widow Patricia Neal, who finds a kindred spirit in Audrey Hepburn's social gadfly, Holly Golightly. The film's mix of breezy comedy and bittersweet romance charmed audiences, and firmly established Peppard as a dashing leading man with a hint of casual cruelty behind his handsome facade. He made good on his initial promise with strong turns in the epic "How the West Was Won" (1962), as a glory-seeking farmboy-turned-lawman, and in the World War II drama "The Victors" (1963) as an American GI in postwar Germany who becomes a big player on the black market. One of his greatest successes of the period was "The Carpetbaggers" (1964), which cast him as a Howard Hughes-like figure who wreaks havoc in the lives of those around him as he becomes a movie mogul. One of his co-stars, Elizabeth Ashley, became his second wife and both endured a tumultuous marriage.

"The Blue Max" (1966) represented a sort of apex for Peppard's film career; his performance as the German flying ace who doggedly pursues the title commendation at the expense of his life, was perhaps his best, with Peppard ensuring the authenticity of the flying scenes by acquiring a pilot's license and performing many of the aerial stunts himself. But off-screen, he had also developed a reputation for being difficult with filmmakers, a situation exacerbated by a growing drinking problem. By the end of the decade, his career had dipped from major releases like the World War II drama "Tobruk" (1967) to largely unseen films like "What's So Bad About Feeling Good?" (1968), "House of Cards" (1968) and "The Executioner" (1970).

Faced with the growing realization that his film career was in the doldrums, Peppard took on his first television series. "Banacek," which was part of the "NBC Mystery Movie" (1971-1977) rotating series, featured the actor as a Boston-based, Polish-American insurance investigator who solves seemingly impossible mysteries. Though never a ratings winner, it was popular with critics, which generated an order for a third season in 1974. However, Peppard nixed the idea as part of an attempt to prevent wife Elizabeth Ashley, with whom he was embroiled in a difficult divorce, from claiming a percentage of his pay from the series. Television remained the main source of his work in the 1970s; most notably in the short-lived series "Doctors' Hospital" (NBC, 1975-76) and the TV movie "Guilty or Innocent: The Sam Sheppard Murder Case" (NBC, 1975), in which he played the real-life doctor accused of murdering his wife. Theatrical films during this period were rare, though the post-apocalyptic science fiction thriller "Damnation Alley" (1977) and the John Sayles-penned "Battle Beyond the Stars" (1980), which cast him as a space cowboy, became cult favorites.

After serving as second unit director on several episodes of "Banacek," Peppard made his filmmaker debut with the indie drama "Five Days from Home" (1979), about a man who struggles against the odds to reach his hospitalized son. Its failure at the box office preceded a lengthy fallow period for the actor, who was reduced to forgettable TV movies and even game show appearances by the end of the 1970s. However, his prickly nature again got the best of him. He was booted from a series of appearances on "Password Plus" (NBC, 1979-1982) after railing against NBC executives, and lost the chance to play Blake Carrington on "Dynasty" (ABC, 1981-89) by battling with the show's producers.

In 1983, he auditioned for a new action series from producers Stephen J. Cannell and John Ashley about a quartet of Vietnam vets on the lam who carry out clandestine missions for pay. Initially, James Coburn was considered for the role of Lt. Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, but when the actor declined, Peppard was cast in the series that would provide him with a career-capping hit. A brazenly over-the-top mix of cartoon action and light comedy, "The A-Team" was a massive hit for four seasons on NBC, with Peppard clearly having the time of his life as Hannibal, whose penchant for mayhem was matched only by his love for absurd disguises and cigars. In interviews, he frequently referred to the show as the best acting job he had ever landed. It was also the first time he saw himself immortalized as a toy action figure, as the show - and especially Peppard's Mohawk-sporting co-star, Mr. T - held an intense fascination with children.

After a decline in viewership forced NBC to cancel "The A-Team" in 1987, Peppard remained active on television, most significantly in the TV movie "Man Against the Mob" (NBC, 1988), a period crime drama about a police detective who fights organized crime in post-World War II Los Angeles. A sequel, "Man Against the Mob: The Chinatown Murders" (NBC), was aired in 1989, with a third slated for production before Peppard discovered that he was suffering from lung cancer. The removal of a tumor from his lung precipitated a slowdown, but Peppard never fully retired from the business. There were theater tours in productions of "Papa," a one-man show about Ernest Hemingway, and in 1994, he was preparing for a new series about a private investigator that was spun off from a character he played on an episode of "Matlock" (NBC, 1985-1995). In early May of 1994, Peppard was admitted to UCLA Medical Center after experiencing shortness of breath. He died several days later, on May 8, 1994, from pneumonia and was returned to his home state of Michigan, where he was buried in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Five Days From Home (1978)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Audrey Hepburn: Remembered (1993)
The Tigress (1993)
Silence Like Glass (1989)
Eva'S Father
Man Against the Mob: The Chinatown Murders (1989)
Man Against The Mob (1988)
De l'enfer a la Victoire (1984)
Target Eagle (1982)
Race For the Yankee Zephyr (1981)
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
Torn Between Two Lovers (1979)
Crisis in Mid-Air (1979)
Five Days From Home (1978)
Damnation Alley (1977)
Denton
One of Our Own (1975)
Guilty or Innocent: The Sam Sheppard Murder Case (1975)
Newman's Law (1974)
Vince Newman
The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972)
Tuxan
The Bravos (1972)
Major John Harkness
Banacek: Detour to Nowhere (1972)
One More Train to Rob (1971)
Harker Fleet
Cannon for Cordoba (1970)
Capt. Rod Douglas
The Executioner (1970)
John Shay
Pendulum (1969)
Capt. Frank Matthews
House of Cards (1969)
Reno Davis
P. J. (1968)
P. J. Detweiler
What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968)
Pete
Rough Night in Jericho (1967)
Dolan
Tobruk (1967)
Capt. Kurt Bergman
The Blue Max (1966)
Bruno Stachel
The Third Day (1965)
Steve Mallory
Operation Crossbow (1965)
Lieut. John Curtis
The Carpetbaggers (1964)
Jonas Cord, Jr.
How the West Was Won (1963)
Zeb Rawlings
The Victors (1963)
Corporal Chase
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Paul Varjak
Home from the Hill (1960)
Raphael "Rafe" Copley
The Subterraneans (1960)
Leo Percepied
Pork Chop Hill (1959)
Chuck Fedderson
The Strange One (1957)
Robert Marquales

Producer (Feature Film)

Five Days From Home (1978)
Producer

Cast (Special)

The Defense Rests: A Tribute to Raymond Burr (1993)
The 24th Annual Victor Awards (1990)
Performer
Happy Birthday, Bugs!: 50 Looney Years (1990)
47th Annual Golden Globes (1989)
Performer
The 1988 Miss America Pageant (1988)
Judge
We the People 200: The Constitutional Gala (1987)
Sex Symbols: Past, Present and Future (1987)
NBC's 60th Anniversary Celebration (1986)
All Star Party for Clint Eastwood (1986)
The NBC All-Star Hour (1985)
Hollywood Stars' Screen Tests (1984)
The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast (1984)
Guest
An Evening at the Moulin Rouge (1983)
Host
Twilight Theater (1982)
Little Moon of Alban (1958)
Dennis Walsh
Bang the Drum Slowly (1956)
Piney Woods

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Night of the Fox (1990)

Life Events

1956

Earliest TV roles included a part in the CBS drama special, "Bang the Drum Slowly", starring Paul Newman

1957

Made feature film debut in "The Strange One"

1960

Played first leading roles in features in "Home from the Hill" and "The Subterraneans"

1963

First received top billing in a feature in "The Carpetbaggers"

1972

Played Thomas Banacek on the NBC detective series, "Banacek"

1977

Made feature directorial debut, "Five Days from Home"

1979

Played last feature lead in the Italian-French-Spanish co-production, "From Hell to Victory"

1992

Last feature film, the German-made erotic psychodrama, "The Tigress"

1992

Underwent biopsy for small benign lung tumor in February; tumor removed May 4

1992

Toured in "The Lion in Winter", January-February

1994

Last TV appearance, a guest spot on the March 3rd episode of "Matlock"

Photo Collections

Operation Crossbow - Comic Book
Here are a few pages from Operation Crossbow, a comic book adaptation of the 1965 thriller, as published by Dell Comics.
How the West Was Won - Program Book
Here is the souvenir Program Book sold at Roadshow engagements for the 1962 epic in Cinerama, How the West Was Won.
Operation Crossbow - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills taken for Operation Crossbow (1965), starring Sophia Loren and George Peppard. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Never So Few - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a number of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Never So Few (1959), starring Frank Sinatra, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lawford and Steve McQueen, and directed by John Sturges.

Videos

Movie Clip

Carpetbaggers, The (1964) - The Best Torture 1925 Nevada, widow Rina (Carroll Baker) with her ex, playboy heir Jonas (George Peppard), whom she dropped for his rich industrialist father who has suddenly died, talking settlement and sex with remarkable explicit language from the steamy Harold Robbins novel, lacking only modern profanity, in The Carpetbaggers, 1964.
Carpetbaggers, The (1964) - Bring Me My Robe The notorious though mild nude scene, and a spike in the plot temperature, as brash Jonas (George Peppard) does exposition and moral trespass with Carroll Baker in her first scene as Rina, his gold-digging ex who married his suddenly-deceased industrialist father for money, early in The Carpetbaggers, 1964, from the Harold Robbins potboiler.
Carpetbaggers, The (1964) - The Fictional And Fabulous Crisp Paul Frees narration soon justifies the aerial opening credit sequence, not quite indicating the salacious tone of the Harold Robbins novel, but George Peppard is introduced as the Howard Hughes-ey Jonas, and Alan Ladd as the grounded Nevada, in The Carpetbaggers, 1964, from producer Joseph E. Levine.
Carpetbaggers, The (1964) - We're Known As A Liberal Newspaper Further exposition as Jonas (George Peppard), a Howard Hughes-like figure in 1920’s aviation is shown to have a more extensive relationship than we knew with Monica (Elizabeth Ashley), daughter of industrial friendly-rival Winthrop (Tom Tully) who, unsuspecting, calls from downstairs, in the 1964 feature from the Harold Robbins novel, The Carpetbaggers.
Carpetbaggers, The (1964) - Evil Can Be Fun High-living widow Rina (Carroll Baker) now in Hollywood after adventures in Paris is visited by Nevada (Alan Ladd), now a silent movie star, but formerly aide-de-camp to the industrial-aviation family he worked for, inquiring about Jonas (George Peppard, not seen) her ex-flame, son of her sugar-daddy husband, now head of the firm, in The Carpetbaggers, 1964, from the Harold Robbins best-seller.
Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961) - I Thought It Was Fred Baby Martin Balsam is O.J., stand-in host and, we soon learn, the show-business agent for paid Manhattan party-girl Holly (Audrey Hepburn), who has yet to appear for her own event, as her new neighbor, writer Paul (George Peppard), whom she calls Fred, arrives, in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, 1961.
Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961) - You Like Me! First proper scene for Audrey Hepburn as Manhattan party girl Holly Golightly, the nature of her work less explicit here than in the Truman Capote novella, Claude Stroud the “John,” and Mickey Rooney as the stereotyped Asian landlord, a role he later disavowed, in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, 1961.
Operation Crossbow (1965) - You'll Have To Lose The Handlebars Allied agents Henshaw and Curtis (Tom Courtenay, George Peppard) are dropping into occupied Holland having missed news that their identities are blown, so we cut to spy-master John Mills prepping Bradley (Jeremy Kemp) for a rescue, in the WWII espionage thriller Operation Crossbow, 1965.
Operation Crossbow (1965) - The Outcome Of The War Opening, the point being that this is a full-scale Carlo Ponti WWII espionage feature, starring his wife Sophia Loren, and lots of people got their names billed before the title; also Churchill (Patrick Wymark) himself is involved, visited by Richard Johnson as Duncan Sandys (a historical figure, actually Churchill’s son-in-law), from Operation Crossbow, 1965.
Operation Crossbow (1965) - I Heard You Speaking English Top-billed Sophia Loren finally appears, at a boarding house in occupied Holland, where she catches undercover Allied agents George Peppard and Tom Courtenay, not knowing that her German engineer husband is dead or that Peppard is impersonating him, his landlady (Lili Palmer) saving the day, in Operation Crossbow, 1965.
Operation Crossbow (1965) - Buried The Roosters Thirty minutes in, we start meeting Allied officers who’ll undertake the WWII spy mission, first Anthony Quayle and Tom Courtenay waiting, then George Peppard as swaggering American (leading man) Curtis, and Jeremy Kemp as the bothered Brit Bradley, in Operation Crossbow, 1965.
Pork Chop Hill (1959) - Men Of King Company It's not made clear why the Chinese broadcasters know they are addressing "King" company but, we meet Franklin (Woody Strode), queried by Velie (Robert Blake) then challenged by Clemons (Gregory Peck), in the opening assault in Lewis Milestone's Korean War drama Pork Chop Hill, 1959.

Trailer

Family

George Peppard Sr
Father
Vernelle Rohrer
Mother
Singer.
Bradford Davies Peppard
Son
Born 1955, mother Helen Davies.
Julie Louise Peppard
Daughter
Born 1956; mother Helen Davies.
Christian Peppard
Son
Director, screenwriter. Born 1968; mother Elizabeth Ashley; co-directed and co-wrote first short film "Rex Justice" (1991); graduated from NYU film school.

Companions

Helen Davies
Wife
Married 1954, divorced 1965.
Elizabeth Ashley
Wife
Actor. Married 1966; twice married, twice divorced.
Sherry Boucher
Wife
Married 1975.
Laura Peppard
Wife
Last of five marriages; married September 10, 1992; survived him.

Bibliography