Gregory Peck

Died June 12th, 2003

LOS ANGELES - Gregory Peck (news), the lanky, handsome movie star whose long career included such classics as "Roman Holiday," "Spellbound" and his Academy Award winner, "To Kill a Mockingbird," has died, a spokesman said Thursday. He was 87.

Peck died overnight, Monroe Friedman told The Associated Press.

Peck's craggy good looks, grace and measured speech contributed to his screen image as the decent, courageous man of action. From his film debut in 1944 with "Days of Glory," he was never less than a star. He was nominated for an Oscar five times, and his range of roles was astonishing.

He portrayed a priest in "Keys of the Kingdom," combat heroes in "Twelve O'Clock High" and "Pork Chop Hill," Westerners in "Yellow Sky" and "The Gunfighter," a romantic in "Roman Holiday." His commanding presence suited him for legendary characters: King David in "David and Bathsheba," sea captains in "Captain Horatio Hornblower" and "Moby Dick," F. Scott Fitzgerald in "Beloved Infidel," the war leader "MacArthur," and Abraham Lincoln in the TV miniseries "The Blue and the Grey."

Peck's rare attempts at unsympathetic roles usually failed. He played the renegade son in the Western "Duel in the Sun" and the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele in "The Boys from Brazil."

Off-screen as well as on, Peck conveyed a quiet dignity. He had one amicable divorce, and scandal never touched him. He served as president of the Motion Picture Academy and was active in the Motion Picture and Television Fund, American Cancer Society, National Endowment for the Arts and other causes.

"I'm not a do-gooder," he insisted after learning of the Academy's Jean Hersholt (news) humanitarian award in 1968. "It embarrassed me to be classified as a humanitarian. I simply take part in activities that I believe in."

Peck died at his Los Angeles home overnight, with his wife, Veronique, at his side, Friedman said.

"She told me very briefly that he died peacefully. She was with him, holding his hand, and he just went to sleep," Friedman said. "He had just been getting older and more fragile. He wasn't really ill. He just sort of ran his course and died of old age."

Picked by Mister 50s.