Nationality: American. Born: Eldred Gregory Peck in La Jolla, California, 5 April 1916. Education: Attended high school in San Diego; St. John's Military Academy, Los Angeles; San Diego State University; University of California, Berkeley, graduated 1939; Neighborhood Playhouse theater school, New York, under Sanford Meisner, two years. Family: Married: 1) Greta Konen, 1942 (divorced 1955), three children, one deceased; 2) Veronique Passani, 1955, son: the actor Tony Peck, daughter: the actress Cecilia Peck. Career: Worked as talker at World's Fair, New York, and guide at Radio City; 1940—acted at Barter Theatre, Abingdon, Virginia, and later at theaters in New York; 1943—film debut in Days of Glory ; contract with David O. Selznick, and several other film companies; 1948—co-founder, La Jolla Playhouse; 1958—co-producer of film The Big Country ; 1965—charter member of National Arts Council; 1967–69—chairman of the Board of Trustees, American Film Institute; 1982—in TV mini-series The Blue and the Gray , and as voice in Baseball , 1994; 1995—toured in one-man show A Conversation with Gregory Peck . Awards: Best Actor, New York Film Critics, for Twelve O'Clock High , 1949; Best Actor Academy Award, for To Kill a Mockingbird , 1962; Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, 1967; Life Achievement Award, American Film Institute, 1989. Agent: Mike Simpson, William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.
Films as Actor:
Days of Glory (Jacques Tourneur) (as Vladimir)
Keys of the Kingdom (Stahl) (as Father Francis Chisholm)
Spellbound (Hitchcock) (as John "J. B." Ballantine); The Valley of Decision (Garnett) (as Paul Scott)
The Yearling (Brown) (as Pa Baxter); Duel in the Sun (King Vidor) (as Lewt McCanles)
The Macomber Affair (Korda) (as Robert Wilson); Gentleman's Agreement (Kazan) (as Phil Green); The Paradine Case (Hitchcock) (as Anthony Keane)
Yellow Sky (Wellman) (as Stretch)
The Great Sinner (Siodmak) (as Fedja); Twelve O'Clock High (Henry King) (as Gen. Frank Savage)
The Gunfighter (Henry King) (as Johnny Ringo)
Captain Horatio Hornblower (Walsh) (title role); Only the Valiant (Gordon Douglas) (as Capt. Richard Lance)
David and Bathsheba (Henry King) (as David); The World in His Arms (Walsh) (as Jonathan Clark); The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Henry King) (as Harry Street); Pictura (as narrator)
Roman Holiday (Wyler) (as Joe Bradley); Night People (Johnson) (as Col. Steve Van Dyke)
The Purple Plain (Parrish) (as Forrester); The Million Pound Note ( Man with a Million ) (Neame) (as Jerry Adams)
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (Johnson) (as Tom Rath); Moby Dick (Huston) (as Capt. Ahab)
Designing Woman (Minnelli) (as Mike Hagen)
The Bravados (Henry King) (as Jim Douglass)
Pork Chop Hill (Milestone) (as Lt. Joe Clemons); Beloved Infidel (Henry King) (as F. Scott Fitzgerald); On the Beach (Kramer) (as Dwight Towers)
The Guns of Navarone (J. Lee Thompson) (as Capt. Mallory)
Cape Fear (J. Lee Thompson) (as Sam Bowden); To Kill a Mockingbird (Mulligan) (as Atticus Finch)
"The Plains" ep. of How the West Was Won (Hathaway) (as Cleve Van Valen); Captain Newman, M.D. (Miller) (title role)
Behold a Pale Horse (Zinnemann) (as Manuel Artiguez)
Mirage (Dmytryk) (as David Stillwell)
Arabesque (Donen) (as David Pollock); John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums (Herschensohn) (as narrator)
The Stalking Moon (Mulligan) (as Sam Varner)
MacKenna's Gold (J. Lee Thompson) (as MacKenna); The Most Dangerous Man in the World ( The Chairman ) (J. Lee Thompson) (as Dr. John Hathaway); Marooned (John Sturges) (as Charles Keith)
I Walk the Line (Frankenheimer) (as Sheriff Henry Tawes)
Shootout (Hathaway) (as Clay Lomax)
Billy Two Hats (Kotcheff) (as Deans)
The Boys from Brazil (Schaffner) (as Dr. Josef Mengele)
The Sea Wolves (McLaglen) (as Col. Lewis Pugh)
The Scarlet and the Black (London—for TV) (as Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty)
Directed by William Wyler (Slesin—doc) (as himself)
Amazing Grace and Chuck ( Silent Voice ) (Newell) (as President)
Old Gringo (Puenzo) (as Ambrose Bierce)
Other People's Money (Jewison) (as Andrew Jorgenson); Cape Fear (Scorsese) (as Lee Heller)
The Portrait (Arthur Penn—for TV) (as Gardner Church, + exec pr)
Sinatra: 80 Years My Way (doc) (as himself)
Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (Robinson—doc)
Moby Dick (Roddam—for TV) (as Father Mapple)
From Russia to Hollywood: The 100-Year Odyssey of Chekhov and Shdanoff (Keeve) (as Narrator)
Films as Producer:
The Big Country (Wyler) (+ ro as James McKay)
The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (Davidson)
The Dove (Jarrott)
The Omen (Richard Donner) (+ ro as Robert Thorn)
MacArthur (Sargent) (+ title role)
By PECK: book—
An Actor's Life , 1978.
By PECK: articles—
"Le Plus Beau Jour de notre vie," interview with Guy Braucourt, in Ecran (Paris), July-August 1972.
"Gregory Peck on The Trial of the Catonsville Nine ," interview with G. Woodside, in Take One (Montreal), December 1972.
"Gregory Peck: He's the Man," interview with Ron Haver, in American Film (New York), March 1989.
On PECK: books—
Thomas, Tony, Gregory Peck , New York, 1977.
Freedland, Michael, Gregory Peck: A Biography , New York, 1980.
Griggs, John, The Films of Gregory Peck , Secaucus, New Jer-sey, 1984.
Molyneaux, Gerard, Gregory Peck: A Bio-Bibliography , Westport, Connecticut, 1995.
On PECK: articles—
Stein, J., "Gregory Peck," in Films in Review (New York), March 1967.
Films Illustrated (London), October 1980.
Haskell, Molly, "Gregory Peck," in The Movie Star , edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.
Buckley, Michael, "Gregory Peck," in Films in Review (New York), April and May 1984.
Clark, John, filmography in Premiere (New York), October 1989.
Current Biography 1992 , New York, 1992.
Murphy, Kathleen, "The World Is in His Arms," in Film Comment (New York), March-April 1992.
Campbell, V., "Gregory Peck in 'To Kill a Mockingbird,"' in Movieline (Escondido), November 1994.
Denerstein, Robert, "A Class Act," in Rocky Mountain News (Den-ver), 18 September 1995.
Norman, Barry, "Peck: More Statesman Than Superstar," in Radio Times (London), 23 August 1997.
Stars (Mariembourg), no. 28, 1997.
* * *
When Gregory Peck was designated an enemy of the conservative Nixon establishment, it was as much a recognition of his role within the social symbolism of Hollywood films, as a reaction to his personal involvement with liberal causes. If James Stewart, in his work for Frank Capra, nostalgically embodies the populist image of the smalltown good citizen, Peck creates the figure of the decent and fairminded reformer or the fundamentally good man who rises to the moral demands of the occasion. Only rarely have other qualities of Peck's persona been explored, particularly the resentment and anger which his intensity suggests. It is in these uncharacteristic roles that he has done some of his most interesting as well as some of his worst acting.
After some experience with New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse, Peck moved to Hollywood where, classified as 4-F, he worked steadily during the war. In his first role, as an Eastern front guerilla in Jacques Tourneur's Days of Glory , he demonstrated the requisite qualities of the versatile leading man. By the end of the 1940s Peck had established himself as both a commercial and critical success. He received Oscar nominations for Gentleman's Agreement —a perfect showcase for his intensity and aroused righteousness, The Yearling , and The Keys of the Kingdom . The acclaim however, was more for the likable persona Peck had created than for any demonstration of acting virtuosity.
In the 1950s and 1960s he played many similar roles, the apotheosis of his reformer character coming in To Kill a Mockingbird , a film in which Peck's humble and antiracist small-town lawyer is a successful mix of populist goodwill and political commitment. Less impressive versions of the same conscience-stricken character are to be found in Twelve O'Clock High , Captain Horatio Hornblower , and Pork Chop Hill .
Those roles that explore the dark side of his personality indicate both his virtues and limitations as an actor. In the Freudian Western Duel in the Sun he demonstrated early in his career that he could successfully evoke both sexual obsession and sociopathy. Performances in The Gunfighter , The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit , The Paradine Case , and The Snows of Kilimanjaro exhibited a very human frailty that was only glimpsed in his more optimistic roles. Peck's failure to portray adequately the complexities of a compulsive figure in such films as Moby Dick , MacArthur , and The Boys from Brazil indicates the limitations of his skill as an actor.
Peck, like many of the characters he played, has a social conscience. He has been involved in charitable, political, and film industry causes. In 1965, he became a member of the National Council on the Arts, then he was elected chairman of the American Cancer Society the following year. From 1967 to 1969, he was on the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute. He served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Peck also received the Medal of Freedom and the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
—R. Barton Palmer, updated by Linda J. Stewart