Gregory Peck Overview:

Legendary actor, Gregory Peck, was born Eldred Gregory Peck on Apr 5, 1916 in La Jolla, CA. Peck died at the age of 87 on Jun 12, 2003 in Los Angeles, CA and was laid to rest in Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA.

Early Life

Born Eldred Gregory Peck on April 5th, 1916 in La Jolla, California. Because of his parents divorced during his formative years, Peck was raised primary by his grandmother during his formative years. When he was 14 his grandmother died. He then moved to San Diego to live with his Father. Peck was active student, a habit that would remain in his college years. During his one-year stint at San Diego State Teacher'sCollege he was involved in the track team, theater, and Greek life. A year later he transferred to his college of choice, Berkeley, where he declared himself in pre-med student while majoring in English. He remained an active student and joined the University's rowing team while maintaining two part-time jobs to pay for his education. It was while attending Berkeley that Peck took a greater interest in acting. He joined the University's theater troupe, Little Theatre, on the behest of its director, Edwin Duerr. He was in five plays his senior year of College.

Early Career

Upon graduating, Peck moved to New York to further pursuer his interest in acting. He was admitted to Neighborhood Playhouse on a scholarship and took lessons from famed instructors such as Sanford Meisner, and Martha Graham. Although happy to be furthering his craft, his first few years In New York City could not be described as easy. An entire coast away from his family, Peck often found himself low on cash and worked at concession stand, as tour guide and even slept in central park on occasion in pursue of his dream. In 1941, he made his professional acting debut in the George Bernard Shaw play The Doctor's Dilemma. Soon after he made his Broadway debut in The Morning Star. After, Peck became a much sought after actor. Because of a back injury suffered during a movement class the Neighborhood Playhouse, Peck was exempt from serving in World War II. With the lack of strong leading men in Hollywood, Peck quickly found himself with offers. Although he screen-tests for David O. ™Selznick at Selznick's request, he was ultimately rejected.  He remained in New York for another, honing his skill and rejected any film offer that came his way. IT was not until 1943 that Peck made the permanent move west.

In 1944 he made film debut for RKO in Days of Glory. In the film he played leader of a soviet resistance cell fighting the Nazi's. Although the film was not a huge hit, Peck was and became the focus of multiple Hollywood Studios. Although given many long-term offers, Peck refused to sign with any one studio for more than a picture at a time, allowing the freedom to choose his roles at will. His next film was 20th Century Fox's Kingdom of Heaven. The role as priest fulfilling his mission in China demonstrated his now signature quiet, dignified authority. The film was a hit and not only made Peck a star, but also gained him his first of five Academy Award nominations.  

Hollywood Stardom

His next film, 1945's The Valley of Decisions, opposite Greer Garson, was another major hit. He followed that up the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Spellbound opposite Ingrid Bergman. The film is noted for it's early treatment of psychotherapy and it's manic dream sequence was conceived by surreal artist Salvador Dali. The next year he starred in Clarence Brown's The Yearling and was nominated for his second Academy Award. Later that year, he demonstrated his range as an actor by playing the lusty, womanizing cowboy in the King Vidor Western Duel in the Sun. He earned yet another Academy Award nomination for his role as an undercover journalist attempting to expose anti-Semitism in the Elia Kazan's 1947 film Gentlemen's Agreement. It was the first many socially conscious roles he which would come to mark his legacy. That year he worked with Hitchcock again in the ultimately forgettable The Paradine Case. In 1949 Peck was nominated for his forth Academy Award only 5 years after migrating to Hollywood, this time for the World War II drama, Twelve O' Clock High, portraying a dutiful General who must prepare his men for what is most certainly a suicide bombing mission.

He began the new decade with The Gunslinger and the biblical epic David and Bathsheba, both of which were hits. He then starred in the silver screen adaption of the Ernst Hemmingway book The Snows of Kilimanjaro. For his next film, Peck showed off his comedic skills in William Wyler'sRoman Holiday. Although his contracts specifically stated he receive top billing, Peck felt his co-star, Hollywood newcomer Audrey Hepburn, was the true star of the film and insisted her name be placed equal with his. The film was massive hit and, like Peck predicted, Hepburn skyrocketed to fame and won the Academy Award. His next film The Purple Plain was of little note. In 1956 he starred in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, as an ex-solider quietly dealing with PTSD while trying to make sense of his post-war domestic life. The film was a hit with both critics and at the box-office.

Continued Success

For his next film, Peck played one of literatures most Iconic characters, Captain Ahab in the John Ford adaption of Moby Dick. In 1958, Peck not only starred in but also produced the William Wyler Western The Big Country. His next film was 1959's Korean War drama Pork Chop Hill. He followed with the Stanley Kramer's post-apocalyptic ensemble On the Beach. The film, which included Fred Astaire, Ava Gardner, and Anthony Perkins had a strong anti-nuclear war stance and pointed to the dangers that man presented itself.  In 1961 he starred in The Guns of Navarone, where he once again fought the Nazi's. The film was one of the biggest commercial successes of the year.

In 1962 Peck starred in the role many consider him born to play: Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. In the film, Peck plays an idealist and widowed lawyer defending a black man against rape charges in the racist south. The role is considered his most iconic, the very epitome of both his on and off screen moral courageousness and for his efforts he was received the Academy Award. Later same year, he would star opposite Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear.

Leadership Roles and Politics

In 1964 Peck released two films: Behold a Pale Horse and the comedy Captain Newman, M.D. Although both performed moderately at the box office, they did not gross nearly as much as expected. His next film, the Hitchcockian thriller Mirage failed poorly at the box-office as did his next, the 1966 comedy-thriller Arabesque opposite Sophia Loren. Peck took time away from the screen to concentrate on his other newfound responsibilities. From 1964 to 1966 he served as a member of the Nation Council on the Arts. In 1966 he was the National Chairmen of the American Caner Society. By 1968, he was both the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute. He finally returned to the silver screen in 1969 with The Stalking Moon, The Chairmen, and Marooned. All performed poorly at the box office.

In 1969 Peck was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom present by President Johnson. In 1971, Peck received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guide, despite still having plenty of life left. Also a supporter of the political left, Peck became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War yet supportive of his son who chose to serve. In 1972, he produced the film version The Trial of the Catonsville Nine about the unjust persecution of anti-war activists. By now, he had made the famed Richard Nixon "list of enemies" for his activism.

Later Career and Death

The next year, he starred in the box office failure Billy Two Hats, causing him to take a break from the silver screen. In 1976, Peck returned with the horror film The Omen where Peck played the knowing adoptive father of the Anti-Christ. The film was a hit with both critics and audiences. The next year he starred as the title role in MacArthur, a biopic about infamous American General Douglas MacArthur.  The next year, he play against-type as the ultimate real-life villain, Nazi SS Officer and notorious concentration camp physician/all around monster, Dr. Josef Mengle.

As the next decade arrived, Peck moved to the medium of television. In 1983, he starred in the television movie, The Scarlet and The Black. Two years later he portrayed Abraham Lincoln in the miniseries The Blue and The Grey. In 1987 he returned to the big to star in the anti-nuclear war silver screen feature Grace and Chuck. Two years later he starred opposite fellow leftist activist, Jane Fonda, in Old Gringo. In 1991 he, along with Robert Mitchum, appeared in the Martin Scorsese remake of Cape Fear. In the film played the smooth talking lawyer for criminal Max Cady. In 1998 Peck appeared in the made-for-TV version of Moby Dick, this time playing Father Mapple. For his performance he was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a TV min-series. It would be his last.  That same year, Peck was granted the Nation Medal of the Arts. Later in his life, he was offered the role of Grandpa Joe in the 2005 remake of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory but died before he could accept.

On June 12th 2003 Gregory passed away of Bronchopneumonia in his Los Angeles Home. He was 87 years old.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).



Gregory Peck was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for Best Actor for To Kill a Mockingbird (as Atticus Finch) in 1962. He also won one Honorary Award in 1967 Gregory Peck .

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1945Best ActorThe Keys of the Kingdom (1944)Father Francis ChisholmNominated
1946Best ActorThe Yearling (1946)Pa BaxterNominated
1947Best ActorGentleman's Agreement (1947)Phil GreenNominated
1949Best ActorTwelve O'Clock High (1949)General SavageNominated
1962Best ActorTo Kill a Mockingbird (1962)Atticus FinchWon

Academy Awards (Honorary Oscars)



He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. Gregory Peck's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #88 on Dec 15, 1949. In addition, Peck was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum .

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Gregory Peck Quotes:

Captain Ahab: By heavens man, we are turned round and round in this world, like yonder windlass, and fate is the handspike.

Harry Street: Oh, the royalties are rolling in. That's one thing about success - even when it's a failure. It snowballs for a while. There's also one thing about a snowball - it has nowhere to go but downhill.

Harry Street: [talking about their African trip] There's a wonderful book in it. Maybe I'll write it some day.
Cynthia Green: Darling!
Harry Street: Don't spoil it! Don't talk it all away!

read more quotes from Gregory Peck...

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Gregory Peck Facts
U.C. Berkeley graduate (BA '39), oarsman on Cal's JV crew.

His favorite singers were Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson. He was also a big fan of Elton John.

He was a close friend of Jane Fonda, and frequently attended political rallies with her.

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