Hollywood Legend Gregory Peck, Who Started on Stage, Dead at 87

Obituaries   Hollywood Legend Gregory Peck, Who Started on Stage, Dead at 87 Gregory Peck, the tall, sonorous-voiced Hollywood actor who had the respect of industry and audience, died in his sleep during the night, his spokesman said June 12.

Mr. Peck, whose roots are in the theatre, was 87 and lived in California. His recent forays on stage were with his live A Conversation With Gregory Peck, the show of film clips, reminiscences and questions-and-answers, as well as voiceover work in Broadway's Tony Award-winning Will Rogers Follies, for which he provided the God-like voice of Florenz Ziegfeld.

His international fame came with such films as "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Roman Holiday," "Gentleman's Agreement" and "Spellbound."

Veronique Passani Peck, his wife of almost 50 years, was with him when he died.

Reuters reported his death came days after the American Film Institute named his film role of idealistic Southern lawyer Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" as the greatest movie hero of all time. He won the 1963 Best Actor Academy Award for the role, drawn from the novel by Harper Lee.

Mr. Peck also co-founded La Jolla Playhouse in 1947, along with Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer. He continued to be involved with La Jolla Playhouse and was, up until his death, honorary co-chair for La Jolla Playhouse's capital campaign. The California-born actor (born Eldred Gregory Peck) studied at the University of California, where he appeared in productions of Moby Dick (in 1956 he played Ahab in the film version of the Herman Melville novel) and Anna Christie.

Before leaping to Hollywood, he made his Broadway debut as Cliff in Morning Star, and appeared in Broadway's Sons and Soldiers and The Willow and I. He also toured in plays (The Doctor's Dilemma, among others) and appeared in stock, at such venues as the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, MA. The actor also made early-career appearances regionally at venues such as the Barter Theatre in Virginia.

Mr. Peck made his final appearance in his popular, touring reminiscence show, A Conversation With Gregory Peck, Feb. 20, 2000, at the Elsinore Theater in Salem, OR. The then-83-year-old actor reportedly moved slowly and walked with a cane during his last show.

"This is the end of my first farewell tour," Peck reportedly joked, adding that he was done with major films roles but was free for "a smashing cameo."

Peck acted at Virginia's Barter in 1940, appearing in five plays including Family Portrait and On Earth as It Is. Two years later, he made his Broadway debut in Morning Star. His first Hollywood picture was 1944's "Days of Glory."

Peck had more than 70 performances of his Conversation show under his belt.