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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 20:59 GMT 21:59 UK
Making of a Hollywood legend
Gregory Peck at Cannes
Peck was nominated five times for an Oscar, winning just once
The death of Gregory Peck robs Hollywood of one of its all-time greats.

His good looks, grace and measured speech contributed to his screen image as the decent, courageous man of action.

Born Eldred Gregory Peck on 5 April, 1916, in La Jolla, California, his mother was a lively Missourian 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.

Broadway

Dropping the name Eldred, he headed for New York after graduation with $195 in his pocket.

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 a star.

He was nominated for an Oscar five times, and his range of roles was astonishing.

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.

Gregory Peck with Hildegarde Knef in the Snows of Kilimanjaro

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 Grey.

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 rape.

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.

Avoided scandal

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.




SEE ALSO:
Screen legend Gregory Peck dies
12 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
Gregory Peck: Your tributes
12 Jun 03  |  Have Your Say
Peck talks glamour at Cannes
16 May 00  |  Entertainment


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