April 5, 2011 - 12:40 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - April 5 marks the 95th birth anniversary of legendary actor Gregory Peck.
Peck was born in La Jolla, California. His father, a druggist in San Diego, was half-Armenian and taught Gregory speak Armenian in his childhood. His parents divorced when he was five years old. An only child, he was sent to live with his grandmother. He studied pre-med at UC-Berkeley and, while there, got bitten by the acting bug and decided to change the focus of his studies. He enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and debuted on Broadway after graduation. His debut was in Emlyn Williams' play "The Morning Star" (1942). By 1943 he was in Hollywood, where he debuted in the RKO film Days of Glory (1944). Stardom came with his next film, The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.
Peck made the decision to only work in films that interested him. He continued to appear as the heroic, larger-than-life figures in such films as Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951) and Moby Dick (1956). He worked with Audrey Hepburn in her debut film, Roman Holiday (1953). Peck finally won the Oscar, after four nominations, for his performance as lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). In the early 1970s he produced two films, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (1972) and The Dove (1974), when his film career stalled.
In 1967 Peck received the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. He was also been awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. Always politically progressive, Peck was active in such causes as anti-war protests, workers' rights and civil rights.
He died in June 2003, aged 87.