While he was christened Eldred Gregory Peck, it was probably a good idea to drop that first name when he became an actor. Using his middle name, Gregory Peck became one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men. Born in 1916, Peck passed away in June of 2003 at the age of 87. In the years in between, he gave us some of the most memorable film performances of all time.
His timeless portrayals of great men, and not-so very great men are the standards by which actor’s capabilities in this era are often gauged. Gregory Peck could play anything. He seemed equally at home with stark, naked drama as he was with slapstick comedic fun. His good looks and charm could bristle with manliness or they could be smooth and sophisticated.
Peck won his only Oscar for his role in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and was nominated several times. He also won a pair of Golden Globe Awards. Perhaps, more importantly, he was honored with the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, The National Medal of Arts, The SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, and, in 1969 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, the highest honor the United States can bestow upon a civilian.
His range, as an actor, was truly extraordinary, and unlike so many contemporaries, during the prime of his career, Peck did his own stunts. Peck’s weakness was his inability to be convincing as a dastardly villain. Somehow, he either couldn’t pull it off or we simply loved him too much to find it believable. Either way, his few attempts at showing his “dark side” failed.
Top Ten Films of Gregory Peck:
- The Yearling (1946)
- The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)
- The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956)
- Moby Dick (1956)
- The Guns of Navarone (1961)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
- Cape Fear (1962)
- The Omen (1976)
- MacArthur (1977)
- The Boys From Brazil (1978)