Name at birth: Eldred Gregory PeckGregory Peck was one of the 20th century's most celebrated Hollywood film stars. He is best known for his Oscar-winning role as Atticus Finch in the 1962 film version of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Lean and handsome, with a noble face, Gregory Peck played stalwart and decent heroes in dozens of dramas, westerns and romances. He grew up in southern California, graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1939, then headed east for a career on the stage. After success in the theater, he hit the movies in 1944 and quickly made his mark: his early roles included The Keys to the Kingdom (1944, Oscar nomination); Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945, with Ingrid Bergman); The Yearling (1946, Oscar nomination); Gentleman's Agreement (1947, Oscar nomination); and Twelve O'Clock High (1949, Oscar nomination). During the late 1960s and '70s his career slowed down and his roles were less memorable, with some exceptions: 1976's The Omen and 1978's The Boys From Brazil. In the 1980s Peck played Abraham Lincoln in the TV miniseries The Blue and the Gray (1982), Ambrose Bierce in the feature film Old Gringo (1989) and made occasional appearances onstage. In 1999 he began touring with a one-man stage show of reminiscences, captured in the documentary A Conversation With Gregory Peck.
Gregory Peck died one day after newscaster David Brinkley, though their deaths were reported on the same day: Brinkley died just before midnight, Peck died hours later… In 2003, the American Film Institute named Atticus Finch the #1 hero of Hollywood’s first century, just ahead of Indiana Jones and James Bond.