Story by: Jack Foley
HOLLYWOOD legend, Gregory Peck, has died, at the age of 87.
The star of more than 60 films, including Roman Holiday, Moby
Dick and Cape Fear, died peacefully overnight (on Thursday, June
12) at his Los Angeles home.
According to his publicist, Monroe Friedman, his French-born
wife, Veronique, was by his side.
In a long and distinguished career, Peck was consistently one
of the most popular leading actors of the 20th Century, being
nominated for five Oscars.
He won just once, however, for his role as a lawyer defending
a black man against a false rape charge, in To Kill A Mocking
Bird - a role which recently also saw him named as the Greatest
Hero of all-time by members of the American Film Institute (click
Born Eldred Gregory Peck on April 5, 1916, in La Jolla, California,
Peck went on to become an English literature graduate at the University
of California, Berkeley, he started acting when the director of
the campus theatre spotted him because he was tall and cast him
in Moby Dick.
He later went on to star as Captain Ahab in a 1956 screen version
and, coincidentally, his last role was in a 1998 TV adaptation
of the Herman Melville classic.
However, his film debut came in 1944, in Days of Glory, a role
which was followed by the first of his Academy Award nominations,
for his portrayal of a priest in Keys of the Kingdom (based on
the AJ Cronin novel).
Despite carving a niche for himself as a hero, Peck was not afraid
to diversify, appearing as a soldier, a gun fighter, a Biblical
figure and romantic lead in many of his films.
Two of his most controversial roles, however, came as a renegade
son in the Western, Duel in the Sun, and the infamous Nazi doctor,
Josef Mengele, in The Boys from Brazil.
Three years ago at Cannes he infamously declared that the age
of movie glamour was over.
He served as president of the Academy Awards body and was active
in the Motion Picture and Television Fund, American Cancer Society,
National Endowment for the Arts and other causes.
Needless to say, the tributes have been pouring in as Hollywood
comes to terms with the loss of one of its greatest stars.
Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences, said the movie industry has 'lost one of its most
honoured actors and finest citizens'.
While Charlton Heston, who co-starred with him in 1958's Big
Country, said: "Gregory Peck was one of those few great actors
of generosity, humour, toughness and spirit," before adding
that the actor 'faced life's challenges with great vigour and
One of the most heartfelt tributes, however, came from French
President, Jacques Chirac, who had invited the actor and his wife
to be his guests at the opening of the 1998 World Cup in Paris.
Mr Chirac said: "Gregory Peck was not only an American film
giant whom we admired, he was a man of exceptional culture, a
man with a heart who was attentive to others and deeply concerned
about world events."
He leaves his wife, four children and several grandchildren.