Gregory Peck

The last of the classic leading men from Hollywood's Golden Age, Gregory Peck became a star during the 1940s when a spinal injury prevented him from joining the armed forces during World War II. With many of its male stars in uniform, Hollywood turned to the tall, dark, and handsome Peck, who soon made a name for himself playing men of moral fortitude and great dignity. A five-time Academy Award nominee and Oscar winner for Best Actor for his wonderful turn as Atticus Finch in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Peck was a versatile actor who was able to take on a wide range of roles, including those depicting the darker side of humanity. A tireless supporter of the film industry, Peck has served on almost every major film and arts council. But Hollywood's dedicated elder statesman will undoubtedly always be best remembered as the actor who became a pop culture icon by unflinchingly showing America both the best and the worst about itself.

Peck was born in the beach town of La Jolla, California, the son of the town's only pharmacist. Eldred's parents divorced when he was six, but the boy continued to live in the seaside resort community with his mother and grandmother until age ten, when he was sent to St. John's Military Academy in Los Angeles. Upon graduating from the academy after ninth grade, Peck moved in with his father in San Diego, where the teenager attended San Diego High School. The handsome six-foot-two-inch boy was an average student who enjoyed being on the rowing team, but because his father wanted him to become a doctor, Eldred studied at San Diego State University before transferring to study medicine at the University of California, Berkeley. There he quickly realized that he was more interested in literature than in medicine and, as an English major, he fell in with an artistic crowd and was soon persuaded to audition for a production of Moby Dick. Cast as Starbuck, Peck so fell in love with the theater that shortly before graduation he dropped out of school and caught the train for New York City.

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