BIO

Gregory Peck is Born

1916

Eldred Gregory Peck born April 5, La Jolla, CA. to Gregory Pearl Peck, of Irish descent, and Bernice Ayres, of Missouri.

Parents Divorce

1922

His parents divorce, his mother returns to St. Louis, Missouri, and Gregory goes to live with his maternal grandmother in La Jolla.

St. John’s Catholic Military Academy

1926

Sent to St. John’s Catholic Military Academy outside of Los Angeles, where he serves as an altar boy.

High School in San Diego

1930

Returns to live with his pharmacist father. Attends San Diego High School.

First Year of College

1934

Enrolls in San Diego State

Berkeley Awaits

1935

Transfers to UC Berkely, enrolls in Pre-med, joins Cal crew team.

Finding the Stage

1938

As a senior, discovers his passion in acting and appears in five plays at UC Berkeley.

New York Bound

1939

Graduates UC Berkeley, boards a train to NY to study acting, and drops the first name “Eldred.”

Making Ends Meet

1939

Barker at NY Worlds Fair, Usher at Radio City, models for Montgomery Ward, sleeps in Central Park when out of cash.

Acting School

1939

Wins A Scholarship to the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse, studies acting with Sanford Meisner, movement with Martha Graham.

Summer Stock

1940

Exempted from military service in WWII due to back injury. Begins playing roles in Summer Stock theater, including the Barter Theater, the Cape Playhouse.

Traveling Show

1941

Tours in The Doctor’s Dilemma, by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Guthrie McClintic and starring Katherine Cornell.

Broadway Bound

1942

Broadway debut in The Morning Star, with Katherine Cornell

Marriage

1942

Greg marries Greta Kukkonen.

Acting on Broadway

1943

Stars in The Willow and I, Sons and Soldiers.

First Son

1944

Jonathan Peck is born.

Hollywood Beckons

1944

Meets with Louis B Mayer, Darrel Zanuck, David O Selnick, Samuel Goldwyn. Says no to contract player system, becoming one of first actors able to work at multiple studios. Stars in first film, Days of Glory.

First Oscar Nomination

1944

Stars in The Keys of the Kingdom, is nominated for Best Actor.

Working With The Greats

1945

Stars in Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, with Ingrid Bergman.

Lust in the Dust

1946

Stars in Duel in the Sun, as memorable rogue Lewt McCanles.

Second Oscar Nomination

1946

Stars in The Yearling.

Second Son is Born

1946

Stephen Peck born.

First Golden Globe

1947

Wins Golden Globe for The Yearling.

Third Oscar Nomination

1947

Stars in Gentleman’s Agreement, first major film to deal with discrimination against Jews. Winner of Best Picture Oscar.

Goes Back to Theater Roots

1947

Founder of La Jolla Playhouse, with fellow actors Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire.

Fourth Oscar Nomination

1949

Stars in Twelve O'Clock High and receives fourth Oscar nomination.

Third Son

1949

Carey Paul Peck born.

Set In Stone

1949

Puts handprints in the cement at Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

His Favorite Western

1950

Stars in The Gunfighter.

Movie Star Accolade

1951

Golden Globe for World Film Favorite, Male

A Classic For All Times

1953

Stars in Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn, directed by William Wyler.

Bambi Award

1954

Germany's Best Actor Award for Roman Holiday.

More Recognition

1955

Golden Globe for World Film Favorite, Male.

First Marriage Ends

1954

Gregory and Greta file for divorce.

Model for Mad Men

1955

Stars in The Man In the Grey Flannel Suit.

Remarries

1955

Gregory marries Veronique Passani.

Takes on Melville

1956

Stars in Moby Dick, directed by John Huston.

Fourth Son

1956

Anthony Peck is born.

An Epic Western

1958

Stars in The Big Country with Charlton Heston, also Co-Produces the film with William Wyler

Ahead of the Curve

1958

Stars in On The Beach, sounding a warning against nuclear proliferation. Third film with beloved friend Ava Gardner.

Gets A Girl

1960

Cecilia Peck is born.

Walk of Fame

1960

Gets a star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Original Buddy Movie

1961

Stars in The Guns of Navarone, with Anthony Quinn, David Niven and Anthony Quayle.

Takes on Mitchum

1962

Stars in and produces Cape Fear.

His Favorite Role

1962

Stars as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, fifth Oscar nomination.

Best Actor Oscar

1963

Wins Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actor, To Kill A Mockingbird.

Academy Governorship

1964

Elected to the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Mr. Peck Goes to Washington

1964

Appointed to National Council on the Arts.

Raises Record Breaking Funds

1965

Appointed Chairman of American Cancer Society, travels the country raising awarness and funding.

Inner City Cultural Center

1966

Helped found the Inner City Cultural Center, a multi-cultural theater in South Central Los Angeles.

A Presidential Call to Service

1967

Appointed Founding Chairman of the American Film Institute.

Academy President

1967

Elected President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, serves three terms.

Humanitarian Oscar

1967

Second Oscar: The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Highest Civilian Honor

1969

Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom.

A Special Globe

1969

Wins Golden Globe Cecil. B. DeMille Award, for Outstanding Contributions to the World of Entertainment.

Supporting His Community

1971

Chairman of the Motion Picture Television and Relief Fund.

Opposes Vietnam War

1972

Produces The Trial of the Catonsville Nine. At the same time is very proud of his son Stephen, who is deployed as a Marine in Vietnam.

Biggest Box Office Hit

1976

Stars in The Omen.

Old Soldiers Never Die

1977

Stars in MacArthur.

Works With Friend Laurence Olivier

1978

Stars in Boys from Brazil as evil villain Dr. Josef Mengele.

Delivers Gettysburg Address

1982

Plays Abraham Lincoln in The Blue and the Grey.

Jane Fonda Beckons

1989

Stars in The Old Gringo, filmed on location in Mexico.

Honored By His Peers

1989

AFI's Lifetime Achievement Award.

December at The White House

1991

Receives Kennedy Center Honors.

Works With Scorsese

1991

Plays cameo in remake of Cape Fear.

Celebrated in Manhattan

1992

Honored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

In the Hometown of Veronique

1993

Awarded Legion d'Honneur in Paris, France's Highest Honor, by President Jacques Chirac.

Supporing Literacy

1995

Launches Gregory Peck Reading Series at the Los Angeles Public Library.

An Honor From The President

1998

Awarded National Medal of Arts.

Sixth Golden Globe, at 78

1998

Plays cameo in TV remake of Moby Dick. Nominated for Emmy Award, wins Golden Globe.

Friend Harry Belafonte Presents

1999

Wins Marian Anderson Award in Philadelphia for humanitarian leadership.

A Fine Accolade

1999

The American Film Institute names Gregory one of the Greatest Male Stars of All Time.

Treading the Boards Again

1999

Tours in one man stage show, A Conversation With Gregory Peck.

Honored at Cannes

2000

Documentary A Conversation With Gregory Peck premieres at Cannes Festival.

Stand Up, Miss Jean Louise

2003

AFI names Atticus Finch #1 Movie Hero of All Time.

Gregory Peck Passes Away

June 12, 2003

June 12, at home in Los Angeles, with Veronique and his family at his side.

Final Words From a Lifelong Friend

June 16, 2003

June 16, Brock Peters delivers Gregory's eulogy, at Los Angeles' Catherdral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Atticus Forever

2011

US Post Office issues a Forever Stamp of Gregory as Atticus Finch.

A Presidential Favorite

2012

For the 50th anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird, President Obama screens film at the White House.

 

 

GP-loadingTall and strikingly handsome, with a commanding presence and a deep, resonant voice, Peck was born in La Jolla, California, on April 5, 1916. As a senior at the University of California at Berkeley, he was cast in several plays and fell in love with acting. Upon graduating, he won a scholarship to attend the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and made his Broadway debut in 1942. Critical praise and more stage roles followed. Peck soon caused a sensation in Hollywood and quickly became a major star. One of cinema’s most respected actors, Gregory Peck appeared in more than 60 films during an esteemed career that stretched from the 1940’s to the early 2000’s. His dignity, humanity, and integrity impressed critics from the start and endeared him to generations of moviegoers. Nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actor, he won the Oscar for his performance as defense attorney Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, a character that Peck said was closest to his own heart.

Although he played a wide variety of memorable roles throughout his career—a wayward cowboy in Duel in the Sun (1946), a love-struck reporter in Roman Holiday (1953), Captain Ahab in Moby Dick (1956)—Peck always grounded his performance in a keen intelligence and innate authenticity that illuminated the screen.

His thoughtful portrayal of a devoted priest in The Keys of the Kingdom (1944) earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Another Oscar nomination followed for The Yearling (1946). In Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), Peck played a passionate young reporter determined to expose anti-Semitism. Acclaimed by critics as well as the public, the film earned eight Academy Award nominations, including one for Peck as Best Actor. He received a fourth Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the commander of a demoralized World War II bomber squadron in Twelve O’Clock High (1949).

mockingPeck’s own favorite role, and the one for which he is most remembered, is Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee, the film tells the story of Atticus’s defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman. The film opened in December 1962. According to Variety, it was “a major film achievement, a significant, captivating and memorable picture that ranks with the best of recent years.” The film earned eight Academy Award nominations, countless international honors, and the Best Actor Oscar for Peck. Perhaps Harper Lee summed it up best: “Atticus Finch gave Gregory Peck an opportunity to play himself.” In 2003, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked Atticus Finch the number one movie hero in American film history.

From the beginning, Peck’s career included many critical and box-office hits, including Spellbound (1945), The Gunfighter (1950), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), On the Beach (1959), and The Guns of Navarone (1961). In the late 1950s, he also formed his own movie production company. Its films included the epic 1958 western The Big Country, the innovative Korean War drama Pork Chop Hill (1959), and the suspense thriller Cape Fear (1962), among others. In The Omen (1976), he had the biggest box office hit of his career. In 1991, he revisited Cape Fear in a version directed by Martin Scorsese, and in 1998 received a Golden Globe for his tour-de-force appearance in a television adaptation of Moby Dick.

In the midst of his phenomenal rise in Hollywood, Peck remained committed to live theater. In 1947, he was a founder of the La Jolla Playhouse, a nonprofit professional theater company, and was an active and avid supporter for the rest of his life. Peck was an outspoken opponent of racism and anti-semitism, and championed films which addressed these issues head-on.

Peck was President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1967 to 1970 and also served as a longtime governor. He was an inaugural member of the National Council on the Arts and the Founding Chairman of the American Film Institute. He was National Chairman of the American Cancer Society and raised record-breaking contributions. He also devoted himself to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, which provides health care to members of the entertainment industry. For his public service, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an honorary Oscar, in 1967.

In 1969, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Peck the Presidential Medal of Freedom as “an artist who had brought new dignity to the actor’s profession,” and in 1970, Peck received the Screen Actors Guild award for “outstanding achievement in fostering the ideals of the acting profession.” In 1989, he received the AFI Life Achievement Award, followed by the Kennedy Center Honors in 1991 and the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton in 1998.

Gregory Peck will long be remembered for leaving the indelible imprint of his own character on all the roles he played, especially Atticus Finch, of whom he said: “I put everything I had into it—all my feelings and everything I’d learned in 46 years of living, about family life and fathers and children, and my feelings about racial justice and inequality and opportunity.”