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Tribute to a Hollywood Legend
Eldred Gregory Peck on April 5, 1916, in La Jolla, California, his mother
was a lively Missoury woman, while his father was a quiet pharmacist,
the son of an Irish immigrant.
Peck's parents divorced when he was six and over the next two years
his time was divided between them, before he spent two years living
with his maternal grandmother.
At 10 he was shipped off to a Roman Catholic military academy in Los
Angeles where he was taught by strict Irish nuns.
Peck majored in English at the University of California at Berkeley
where he caught the acting bug.
the name Eldred, he headed for New York after graduation with $195 in
He worked as a tout at the 1939 World's Fair and as a tour guide at
the television network NBC to make ends meet.
After touring with Katherine Cornell in The Doctor's Dilemma, he made
his Broadway debut as the lead in Emlyn Williams' Morning Star.
From his film debut in 1944, in Days of Glory, he was never less than
He was nominated for an Oscar five times, and his range of roles was
His commanding presence made him the ideal choice to play characters
like King David in David and Bathsheba and the sea captain in Moby Dick.
He also played F. Scott Fitzgerald in Beloved Infidel, the war leader
MacArthur, and Abraham Lincoln in the TV mini-series The Blue and the
During his first five years in films, Peck scored four Academy Award
nominations as best actor in Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Yearling
(1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and Twelve O'Clock High (1949).
In To Kill a Mockingbird he played Atticus Finch, a small-town Southern
lawyer who defies public sentiment to defend a black man accused of
The role won him the 1962 Oscar for best actor.
In his 60s and 70s, decent roles proved harder to come by.
In 1993 he starred in a made-for-TV movie, The Portrait, with Lauren
Bacall, his co-star in Designing Woman (1957), and his daughter Cecilia.
Off-screen as well as on, Peck conveyed a quiet dignity, managing to
avoid the scandal which marred the careers of many of his contemporaries.
Peck married his first wife, Greta, in 1942 and they had three sons,
Jonathan, Stephen and Carey. Jonathan, a TV reporter, committed suicide
at the age of 30.
After their divorce in 1954, Peck married Veronique Passani, a Paris
reporter. They had two children, Anthony and Cecilia, both actors.
He served as president of the Motion Picture Academy and was active
in the Motion Picture and Television Fund, the American Cancer Society,
the National Endowment for the Arts and other good causes.