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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Gregory Peck

EARLY LIFE

Eldred Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916, in La Jolla, San Diego, California, the son of Gregory Pearl Peck, a New York-born chemist and pharmacist, and his Missouri-born wife Bernice Mary "Bunny" (née Ayres). His ancestry included Irish, English, some German, and distant Welsh.

His earliest movie memory was being scared by Phantom Of The Opera when he was aged nine.

Peck's father encouraged his son to take up medicine but his grades weren't good enough to get him into medical school. He later took a public speaking course at San Diego State, which was his introduction to acting.

Peck gained admission to the University of California, Berkeley as an English major and pre-medical student.

Standing 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), he rowed on the university crew.

At Berkeley, encouraged by the acting coach, who saw in him perfect material for university theater, Peck became more and more interested in acting. He appeared in five plays put on by the university's Little Theater, during his senior year.

Peck graduated from Berkeley with a BA degree in English. In the spring of 1939, with $160 and a letter of introduction in his pocket, went by train to New York City, traveling coach, to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse with the legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner.

He strongly disliked his first name of Eldred, a name his mother insisted on giving him because she felt it was distinct and would distinguish him with its uniqueness. Peck dropped the Eldred after graduating from university.

Peck injured his spine in a physical training class resulting in his having to wear a back brace for six years. This exempted him from military service in the Second World War.

ACTING CAREER

Peck's first film, Days of Glory, was released in 1944. The movie tells the story of a group of Soviet guerrillas fighting back during the 1941 Nazi invasion of Russia.

Gregory Peck in the Designing Woman trailer

He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor five times, four of which came in his first five years of film acting: for The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and Twelve O'Clock High (1949).

The 1962 film based on To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck as Depression-era lawyer and widowed father Atticus Finch, was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director and would win three of them, including a Best Actor Oscar for Peck.

Peck was the first native Californian to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.


The final speech by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird was done in one take.

In 2003 Peck's portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird was voted the “Greatest Film Hero of the Past 100 years”.

PERSONAL LIFE

In October 1942, Peck married Finnish-born Greta Kukkonen (1911–2008), with whom he had three sons, Jonathan (1944–1975), Stephen (b. 1946), and Carey Paul (b. 1949). They were divorced on December 31, 1955.

On New Year's Day in 1956, the day after his divorce was finalized, Peck married Veronique Passani (1932–2012), a Paris news reporter who had interviewed him in 1952 before he went to Italy to film Roman Holiday. They had a son, Anthony Peck (b. 1956), and a daughter, Cecilia Peck (b. 1958).

In the 1968 film The Big Country, Gregory Peck appears with his three sons Jonathan Peck, Carey Paul Peck and Stephen Peck.

Peck was Roman Catholic and once considered entering the priesthood.

Publicity photo

His racehorse Different Class finished third in the 1968 Grand National.

His favorite drink was Guinness which he had every day, even having a tap installed in his home.

Ava Gardner spent her final years as a recluse in her London apartment - her only companions were her longtime housekeeper Carmen Vargas and her beloved Welsh corgi, Morgan. After her death in 1990, both Carmen Vargas, and Morgan were taken in by her former co-star Gregory Peck.

President Lyndon Johnson awarded Peck the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 for his lifetime humanitarian efforts. It is the highest civilian honor in the US.

LAST YEARS AND DEATH

Peck 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.

At the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. WIKIPEDIA cOMMONS

On June 12, 2003, Peck died in his sleep at home from bronchopneumonia at the age of 87. His wife, Veronique, was by his side.

Gregory Peck is entombed in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels mausoleum in Los Angeles.

Brock Peters delivered Peck's eulogy on the day of his funeral and burial, June 16, 2003. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Peters played Tom Robinson, the black man accused of raping a white girl that Peck's character defended in court.

Source Daily Express

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