Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. on September 26, 1888 to Henry Ware (a businessman) and Charlotte Stearns Eliot (a poetess). Eliot’s family line can be traced back to the earliest of New England settlers, and the family produced many a distinguished male in letters and religion throughout their long history in Boston, Massachusetts, where “America’s cultural aristocracy” ruled. The influence of this family also extended to St. Louis, where Eliot’s paternal grandfather established and presided over Washington University.
Endowed with and proud of their social connections and respectability, the Eliot family made the most of it. Accordingly, Eliot went to only the very best schools: Smith Academy in St. Louis (grammar school), Milton Academy in Massachusetts (secondary school). By 1906 he was a freshman at Harvard University. This is not to say that Eliot was only there because of who he knew; quite the contrary–he finished his bachelor’s degree in only 3 years, was a grad. student in philosophy from 1910-1914, and even studied at the Sorbonne in Paris for a year.
Eliot never received his doctoral degree however, as he had taken up residence in England and liked it so much he decided not to return to America. Part of this decision had to do with his falling in love with a beautiful English girl named Vivienne Haigh-Wood. Eliot only returned home for occasional visits, and became a British citizen in 1927 after a period of much soul-searching. This explains why Eliot can be found in both the English Poets and American Poets section of one’s local libraries and bookstores. Nevertheless, Eliot has said that he should be considered an American rather than an English poet.
In 1915 Eliot married Vivienne, a relationship chronicled in the recent movie Tom and Viv starring Willem Dafoe as Eliot and Miranda Richardson as Vivienne. Vivienne would later die in 1945 after a long period of increasingly degenerate health (both physical and mental). Eliot would not remarry until 1957 to Valerie Fletcher, a happy marriage for both.
Eliot held many different kinds of jobs throughout his lifetime, as writing poetry was not and still is not the most lucrative of occupations when one is not well-known. His occupations varied from schoolmaster, bank clerk, free-lance writer, assistant editor (of the Egoist), editor (of The Criterion), publisher (with Faber and Faber) and even professor of poetry at Harvard.
Being an introspective kind of person, as most poets are, Eliot underwent a profound religious calling. After much soul-searching and inner turmoil, Eliot was confirmed as a member of the Anglican church in 1927. This brought him a much more positive attitude towards life that can be seen in his writings after this date.
It is rather difficult to find much information on T. S. Eliot, which is quite hard to understand, considering the profound impact he had on American and English literature. However, it can be explained that since Eliot was a very private man and also forbade in his will an official biography, the dearth of information on Eliot is justifiable.
Born in Connemara, Galway, on August 2, 1932, Peter departed Irish shores when his family relocated to Leeds. As a teenager he set his heart on becoming a journalist, and dropped out of school at the age of 14 to join the Yorkshire Evening Post as a copy boy. It wasn’t long before the desire to perform struck, however.
Following a stint as a radio man in the Royal Navy, the youngster won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where his peers included Albert Finney, Richard Harris and Alan Bates. After Peter joined the Bristol Old Vic in 1955 at the age of 23 his reputation grew, with critic Kenneth Tynan commenting on his role in The Long, The Short And The Tall: “In the case of Mr O’Toole I sense a technical authority that may, given discipline and purpose, presage greatness.” It wasn’t long before the prediction came to fruition when, in 1962, Peter landed a part that would change his life forever. His performance in David Lean’s desert tribesmen epic Laurence Of Arabia earned him a best actor Bafta and an Oscar nomination while making him a global star. The Academy Award that year went to Sydney Poitier, though, and despite Peter’s numerous nominations the coveted gong was a long time in coming. It was to be 2003 before he took an Honorary statuette home with him, and then he initially turned down the offer, saying: “I’m still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright. Would is be possible to defer the honour until I’m 80?”. Eventually persuaded to change his mind, he declared, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot!”, as he accepted the honour, adding: “I have my very own Oscar now, to be with me ‘til death do us part.”
Going hand in hand with his career was his reputation as a hell raiser. “I can’t stand light. I hate weather. My idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another,” he once joked. The boozing which accompanied such a lifestyle was to nearly cost the actor his life, however, and in 1975 after undergoing extensive surgery for pancreatitis he stopped drinking. His personal life also suffered, and his marriage to Welsh actress Sian Phillips, with whom he has two children Pat and Kate, ended in the Seventies.
“I was a willing accomplice,” says Sian of the years she spent putting up with her husband’s misadventures. “I did a lot of things I would never have done on my own. I owe him a lot.” For his part, the actor was equally understanding: “Thank God for the tolerance shown to me by ladies with whom I’ve had long stretches, because I’m quite hopeless with women.”
In 1982 came his seventh Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a star who disappears into the bottle in My Favourite Year. At the end of that decade, and again in 1999, he won further plaudits for his theatre performances playing the notoriously pickled title character in Jeffrey Barnard Is Unwell. But in spite of triumphs such as these and his turn as an English tutor in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, Peter’s career came to be characterised by minor roles in prestigious productions and larger parts in smaller flicks. While years of hard living have taken their toll on his health and former good looks “If you’d been any prettier, it would have been Florence of Arabia,” legendary playwright Noel Coward once told him the actor seems to have survived almost in spite of himself. Now he teams up with a new generation of cine hunks, sharing the screen for 2004’s Troy with Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom. Accepting his honorary gong at the 2003 Oscars he told the audience how his craft continues to inspire him: “The magic of the movies enraptured me when I was a child. As I totter into antiquity, movie magic enraptures me still.” Indeed he is as committed to movie-making as ever. While making the 2006 British black comedy Venus the 74-year-old actor fell and broke his hip. After a hip replacement he was back on set within a month, determined to get the job done.
It was worth the effort – the role won him his eighth Oscar nomination. His daughter Kate, who describes him as “the same as ever, still naughty” is convinced it won’t be the last time he’s nominated either. “Actors don’t retire, they die with their boots on, and Peter has got a lot of projects in the pipeline,” she promises.
Olivia Mary de Havilland (born July 1, 1916) is a British-American actress whose career spanned from 1935 to 1988. She appeared in 49 feature films, and was one of the leading movie stars during the golden age of Classical Hollywood. She is best known for her early screen performances in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Gone with the Wind (1939), and her later award-winning performances in To Each His Own (1946), The Snake Pit (1948), and The Heiress (1949).
Born in Tokyo to English parents, de Havilland and her younger sister, actress Joan Fontaine, moved to California in 1919. They were raised by their mother Lilian, a former stage actress who taught them dramatic art, music, and elocution. De Havilland made her acting debut in amateur theatre in Alice in Wonderland and later appeared in a local production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which led to her playing Hermia in Max Reinhardt’s stage production of the same play and a movie contract with Warner Bros.
Olivia de Havilland made her screen debut in Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1935. She began her career playing demure ingénues opposite popular leading men, including Errol Flynn, with whom she made nine films. They became one of Hollywood’s most popular romantic on-screen pairings. She achieved her initial popularity in romantic comedy films, such as The Great Garrick (1937), and in Westerns, such as Dodge City (1939).
Her natural beauty and refined acting style made her particularly effective in historical period dramas, such as Anthony Adverse (1936), and romantic dramas, such as Hold Back the Dawn (1941). In her later career, she was most successful in drama films, such as Light in the Piazza (1962), and unglamorous roles in psychological dramas including Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964).
As well as her film career, de Havilland continued her work in the theatre, appearing three times on Broadway, in Romeo and Juliet (1951), Candida (1952), and A Gift of Time (1962). She also worked in television, appearing in the successful miniseries, Roots: The Next Generations (1979), and television feature films, such as Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.
During her film career, de Havilland won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two New York Film Critics Circle Awards, the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress, and the Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup. For her contributions to the motion picture industry, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her lifetime contribution to the arts, she received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush, and was appointed a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
After romantic relationships with Howard Hughes, James Stewart, and John Huston, de Havilland married author Marcus Goodrich, with whom she had a son, Benjamin. Following her divorce from Goodrich in 1953, she moved to Paris and married Pierre Galante, an executive editor for the French journal Paris Match, with whom she had a daughter, Gisèle. In 1962, she published Every Frenchman Has One, an account of her life in France. De Havilland and Joan Fontaine are the only siblings to have won Academy Awards in a lead acting category. A lifelong rivalry between the two resulted in an estrangement that lasted over three decades. She has lived in Paris since 1956, and celebrated her 100th birthday on July 1, 2016.
Susan Hayward was a talented and beautiful red headed American actress who began her career in sweet leading lady or in supporting roles, but who developed into an alluring temptress and later in her career gave several top drawer performances portraying strong women battling life-threatening problems. The top films from her golden period include ‘With a Song in My Heart’ in 1952, ‘I’ll Cry Tomorrow’ in 1955 and ‘I Want to Live’ in 1957, for which she won an Oscar for her outstanding and moving portrayal of convicted murderer Barbara Graham.
She was born Edythe Marrenner in the Brooklyn district of New York on June 30, 1917. Her father was a transportation worker and she had an elder brother and sister. The family lived in a tenement in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn and were extremely poor. Edythe and her brother, Wally, used to collect recyclable bottles and cans littered around the area, and sell them, to provide money to help feed the family.
When she was seven years old Edythe was involved in a car accident and fractured her hip. She was in a body cast for months and it was a year before she recovered fully. The injury left her with one leg an inch and half shorter than the other, and for the rest of her life she walked with a limp.
Hayward attended Public School 181 in Brooklyn, and went on to The Girls’ Commercial High School. She had a difficult time at school, having few friends, and being the butt of other pupils’ taunts about her limp and poor clothes. All this changed when she was twelve and was cast in the lead role in the school production of ‘Cinderella in Flowerland’. She developed a love for acting and a dream to become a Hollywood actress.
For her success in school plays she was named “Most Dramatic” by her classmates and she furthered her interest in Hollywood by going to the movies at any chance she got, She was inspired particularly by Barbara Stanwyck, a Brooklyn girl who had found great screen success.
By the time Edythe graduated in 1935 aged eighteen, she had developed into a rare beauty with a shapely figure. Her setbacks had made her a very determined young lady and she was resolute about attaining fame and fortune.
She began her working life as a photographer’s model for the Thornton Modeling Agency in New York. Colored photography was just becoming popular and Edythe’s red hair and peaches and cream complexion were perfect for the new colored advertisements. In 1937 the agency did a feature in the national weekly magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, and Edythe’s fame began to spread.
Early Hollywood Career 1938
Edythe stayed on in Hollywood and got herself an agent who quickly obtained a six-month contract for her with Warner Brothers. The studio changed her name to Susan Hayward and she began her movie career with bit parts in minor films, learning her new profession, and refusing, as her son later put it, to “play that casting couch game”. She appeared as Ronald Reagan’s girlfriend in ‘Girls on Probation’ in 1938 but otherwise all her appearances were uncredited.
In March 1938 her father died and soon afterwards Warners decided not to renew her contract. Susan faced up to her problems and began a period of self-education, spending much time on improving her accent and pronunciation. Her hard work paid off and she secured a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures, becoming part of a group of fresh young talent including Evelyn Keyes, William Holden and Robert Preston.
Her first movie with the new studio was ‘Beau Geste’ in 1939, starring Gary Cooper and William Holden. It was a major step up in film quality for Susan and her performance was well received. She appeared in two more films in 1939, ‘Our Leading Citizen’ and ‘$1000 a Touchdown’. Neither film made an impact but she performed well and she began to be noticed by Hollywood producers.
The next few years showed Susan’s dramatic talent in a number of different movies. In 1941 she played a supporting role to Ingrid Bergman and Fay Wray in ‘Adam Had Four Sons’ and then stole the show in an unusual horror film, ‘Among the Living’, later the same year.
Hollywood Success 1942
Susan was appearing in better films with some of the cream of Hollywood stars. Her rise continued with ‘Reap the Wild Wind’ in 1942, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, in which she co-starred with John Wayne, Paulette Goddard and William Holden. Later in 1942 she played a witch in the comedy ‘I Married a Witch’ and after several unmemorable movies including performing a skit in Paramount’s war-effort movie, ‘Star Spangled Rhythm’, she appeared again with Wayne in 1944 in ‘The Fighting Seabees’. She continued to give a good account of herself in such movies as ‘Young and Willing’ and ‘Jack London’ in 1943, and ‘The Hairy Ape’ and ‘And Now Tomorrow’ in 1944 but she was still waiting for the roles which would propel her into the big league of leading ladies. She did not have to wait long.
Hollywood Star 1947
Between 1947 and 1958 Susan was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award on five occasions, winning it once. Her first nomination was for her performance in ‘Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman’ in 1947 and she soon was nominated again for ‘My Foolish Heart’ in 1949. She was now one of the top names in Hollywood and she was able to pick and choose her scripts. She played the female lead Bathsheba opposite Gregory Peck in the Biblical epic ‘David and Bathsheba’ in 1951 and then received her third Best Actress nomination in 1952 for ‘With a Song in My Heart’.
In 1953 she was praised for her performance as Rachel Jackson, the wife of Andrew Jackson, in ‘The President’s Lady’ and after another well received Biblical epic, ‘Demetrius and the Gladiators’ in 1954, she received her fourth Oscar nomination in the same year, playing alcoholic singer Lillian Roth in ‘I’ll Cry Tomorrow’.
Best Actress Oscar 1958
Susan had come very close on four occasions but with her fifth nomination she finally won the Best Actress Award for her strong and moving performance as real-life killer, Barbara Graham, in ‘I Want to Live!’ released in 1957.
Susan’s career had definitely peaked and she made fewer films each year, devoting more of her time to domestic life with her second husband, Floyd Eaton Chalkley.
In 1961 she co-starred with Dean Martin in ‘Ada’ but in general the movies in the last part of her career were not up to the standard of her earlier ones. She continued making movies until 1972 when she made her final film, ‘The Revengers’.
Susan married twice. Her first husband was actor, Jess Barker, whom she married in 1944. They had two children, fraternal twin boys, Gregory and Timothy. The couple divorced in 1954 after a stormy marriage. The following year Susan took an overdose of sleeping pills in an apparent suicide attempt. She was rushed to hospital and fully recovered.
At Christmas of 1955 Susan met wealthy rancher Floyd Eaton Chalkley. They married in 1957 and settled into a happy and quiet life on Chalkley’s farm in Carrollton, in western Georgia. When Chalkley died in 1966 Susan was grief-stricken and went into mourning for three years.
Susan’s last appearance in public was when she presented the Best Actress Oscar at the 1974 Awards Ceremony. She was very ill and had to be physically supported by her friend, Charlton Heston.
She had been diagnosed with brain cancer in 1972 and given three months to live. Typically, she battled on.
Susan Hayward died on March 14, 1975, in Hollywood. She was 57. She was buried at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cemetery in Carrollton, Georgia.
Gary Cooper was born Frank James Cooper in Helena, Montana, one of two sons of an English farmer from Bedfordshire, who later became an American lawyer and judge, Charles Henry Cooper, and Kent-born Alice Cooper. His mother hoped for their two sons to receive a better education than that available in Montana and arranged for the boys to attend Dunstable Grammar School in Bedfordshire, England between 1910 and 1913.Upon the outbreak of World War I, Cooper’s mother brought her sons home and enrolled them in a Bozeman, Montana, high school.
When Cooper was 13, he injured his hip in a car accident. He returned to his parents’ ranch near Helena to recuperate by horseback riding at the recommendation of his doctor. Cooper studied at Iowa’s Grinnell College until the spring of 1924, but did not graduate. He had tried out, unsuccessfully, for the college’s drama club. He returned to Helena, managing the ranch and contributing cartoons to the local newspaper. In 1924, Cooper’s father left the Montana Supreme Court bench and moved with his wife to Los Angeles. Their son, unable to make a living as an editorial cartoonist in Helena, joined them, moving there that same year, reasoning that he “would rather starve where it was warm, than to starve and freeze too.”
Failing as a salesman of electric signs and theatrical curtains, as a promoter for a local photographer and as an applicant for newspaper work in Los Angeles, Cooper found work as an actor in 1925. He earned money as an “extra” in the motion picture industry, usually cast as a cowboy. He is known to have had an uncredited role in the 1925 Tom Mix Western, Dick Turpin. The following year, he had screen credit in a two-reeler, Lightnin’ Wins, with actress Eileen Sedgwick as his leading lady.
After the release of this short film, Cooper accepted a long-term contract with Paramount Pictures. He changed his name to Gary in 1925, following the advice of casting director Nan Collins, who felt it evoked the “rough, tough” nature of her native Gary, Indiana.
“Coop,” as he was called by his peers, went on to appear in over 100 films. Cooper broke through in a supporting role in Wings (1927), the only silent film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, following that with Nevada (1927) co-starring Thelma Todd and William Powell, based on the Zane Gray novel, which was remade in 1944 as an early Robert Mitchum vehicle, the only time Cooper and Mitchum played the same role. He became a major star with his first sound picture, The Virginian (1929) opposite Walter Huston as the villainous Trampas. The Spoilers appeared the following year with Betty Compson, which was remade in 1942 with Compson lookalike Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne in Cooper’s role. Cooper followed this action movie with his own Dietrich film entitled Morocco (1930) in which he played a Foreign Legionnaire. Devil and the Deep (1932) featured Cary Grant in a supporting role with Talullah Bankhead and Cooper in the leads alongside Charles Laughton. The following year, Cooper was the second lead in the sophisticated Ernst Lubitsch comedy production of Noël Coward’s Design for Living, billed under Fredric March in the kind of fast-talking role Cooper never played again after Cary Grant staked out the light comedy leading man field with his persona-changing The Awful Truth four years later. The screen adaptation of A Farewell to Arms (1932), directed by Frank Borzage, and the title role in Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) furthered Cooper’s box office appeal.
Cooper was producer David O. Selznick’s first choice for the role of Rhett Butler in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind. When Cooper turned down the role, he was passionately against it. He is quoted as saying, “Gone with the Wind is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history. I’m glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling flat on his nose, not me”.Alfred Hitchcock wanted him to star in Foreign Correspondent (1940) and Saboteur (1942). Cooper later admitted he had made a “mistake” in turning down the director. For the former film, Hitchcock cast look-alike Joel McCrea instead.
Cooper cemented his cowboy credentials again in The Westerner (1940) opposite Walter Brennan as Judge Roy Bean and followed that immediately afterward with the lavish North West Mounted Police (1940), directed by Cecil B. DeMille and featuring Paulette Goddard.
In 1942, Cooper won his first Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as the title character in Sergeant York. Alvin York refused to authorize a movie about his life unless Cooper portrayed him. Meet John Doe was released earlier the same year, a smash hit under the direction of Frank Capra. Ingrid Bergman had just made Casablanca when she and Cooper collaborated on For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), based on a novel by Cooper’s close friend Ernest Hemingway. As a change of pace, he made a Western comedy lampooning his hesitant speech and mannerisms and his own image in general called Along Came Jones (1945) in which he relied on gunslinging Loretta Young to save him when the chips were down. Cooper also starred in the original version of the Ayn Rand novel The Fountainhead (1949) with Patricia Neal.
In 1953, Cooper won his second Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as Marshal Will Kane in High Noon, arguably considered his finest role. Ill with an ulcer, he wasn’t present to receive his Academy Award in February 1953. He asked John Wayne to accept it on his behalf, a bit of irony in light of Wayne’s stated distaste for the film.
Cooper continued to play the lead in films almost to the end of his life. Among his later box office hits were the stark Western adventure Garden of Evil (1954) with Susan Hayward and Richard Widmark; Vera Cruz (1954), an extremely influential Western in which he guns down villain Burt Lancaster in a showdown; his portrayal of a Quaker farmer during the American Civil War in William Wyler’s Friendly Persuasion (1956); and Anthony Mann’s Man of the West (1958), a hard-edged action Western with Lee J. Cobb. His final motion picture was a British film, The Naked Edge (1961), directed by Michael Anderson. Among his final projects was narrating an NBC documentary, The Real West, in which he helped clear up myths about famous Western figures.
On December 15, 1933, Cooper wed Veronica Balfe (May 27, 1913 – February 16, 2000), known as “Rocky.” Balfe was a New York Roman Catholic socialite who had briefly acted under the name of Sandra Shaw. She appeared in the film No Other Woman, but her most widely seen role was in King Kong, as the woman dropped by Kong. Her third and final film was Blood Money. Her father was governor of the New York Stock Exchange, and her uncle was motion-picture art director Cedric Gibbons. During the 1930s she also became the California state women’s skeet shooting champion. Cooper and Balfe had one child, Maria, now Maria Cooper Janis, married to classical pianist Byron Janis.
In April 1960, Cooper underwent surgery for prostate cancer after it had spread to his colon. It spread to his lungs and bones shortly thereafter.
Cooper was too ill to attend the Academy Awards ceremony in April 1961, so his close friend James Stewart accepted the honorary Oscar on his behalf. Stewart’s emotional speech hinted that something was seriously wrong, and the next day newspapers ran the headline, “Gary Cooper has cancer.” One month later, on May 13, 1961, six days after his 60th birthday, Cooper died.
Cooper was originally interred in Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Culver City, California. In May 1974 his body was removed from the Grotto Section of Holy Cross Cemetery, when his widow Veronica remarried and moved to New York, and she had Cooper’s body relocated to Sacred Heart Cemetery, in Southampton, New York, on Long Island. Veronica “Rocky” Cooper-Converse died in 2000 and was buried near Cooper at Sacred Heart Cemetery.
Gregory Peck (April 5, 1916 – June 12, 2003) was an Oscar-winning American film actor. He was one of the most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1970s, and played important roles well into the 1990s. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won an Academy Award. He was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his lifetime humanitarian efforts.
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Peck among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking at No. 12.
Born Eldred Gregory Peck in La Jolla, California, Peck was the son of Bernice Ayres (a Missouri-born convert to Catholicism) and Gregory Peck (a chemist/pharmacist of Irish-Catholic maternal descent and English paternal ancestry). Gregory’s paternal grandmother, Catherine Ashe, was related to the Irish patriot Thomas Ashe, who took part in the Easter Rising less than three weeks after Peck’s birth and died while on a hunger strike in 1917. Despite their strict Catholic religion, Peck’s parents divorced when he was five and he was reared by his grandmother.
Peck was sent to a Roman Catholic military school in Los Angeles at the age of 10 and then attended San Diego High School. When he graduated, he enrolled at San Diego State University to improve his grades so that he could earn admission to his first-choice college, the University of California, Berkeley. For a short time, he took a job driving a truck for an oil company. In 1936, he enrolled as a pre-med student at UC Berkeley, majoring in English.
Since he was 6’3″ and very strong, he also decided to row on the university crew. He developed an interest in acting and was recruited by Edwin Duerr, director of the school’s Little Theater. He went on to appear in five plays during his senior year. Although his tuition fee was only $26 a year, Peck still struggled to pay, and had to work as a “hasher” (kitchen helper) for the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority in exchange for meals. Peck would later say about Berkeley that, “it was a very special experience for me and three of the greatest years of my life. It woke me up and made me a human being.” In 1997 he donated $25,000 to the Berkeley crew team in honor of his coach, Ky Ebright.
After graduating in 1939 from Berkeley with a BA degree in English, Peck dropped the name “Eldred” and headed to New York City to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He was often broke and sometimes slept in Central Park. He worked at the World’s Fair, as a Radio City Music Hall tour guide, and as a catalog model for Montgomery Ward.
He made his Broadway debut as the lead in Emlyn Williams’ The Morning Star in 1942. His second Broadway performance that year was in The Willow and I with Edward Pawley. Peck’s acting abilities were in high demand during World War II, since he was exempt from military service owing to a back injury suffered while receiving dance and movement lessons from Martha Graham as part of his acting training. Twentieth Century Fox claimed he had injured his back while rowing at university, but in Peck’s words, “In Hollywood, they didn’t think a dance class was macho enough, I guess. I’ve been trying to straighten out that story for years.”
Peck’s first film was Days of Glory, released in 1944. Though many critics initially dismissed Peck’s acting as wooden, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor five times, four of which came in his first five years of film acting: for The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), and Twelve O’Clock High (1949).
Each of these early films introduced an aspect of Peck’s persona, establishing him, by the end of the 1940s, as the quintessential leading man. The Keys of the Kingdom emphasized his stately presence. As Penny Barker in The Yearling, he beamed good-humored warmth and affection toward the characters playing his son and wife, confounding critics who had been insisting he was a lifeless performer. Duel in the Sun (1946) showed his range as an actor in his first “against type” role as a cruel, libidinous gunslinger. Gentleman’s Agreement established his power in the “social conscience” genre in a film that took on the deep-seated but subtle anti-Semitism of mid-century corporate America. Twelve O’Clock High was the first of many successful war films in which Peck embodied the brave, effective, yet human fighting man.
His three biggest films of the 1950s were Roman Holiday (1953), in which he all but defined the tall, dark and handsome romantic lead, Moby Dick (1956), in which he tied the strong knot between classic American literature and film, and On the Beach (1959), a film that brought to life the potential terrors of global nuclear war. However, it was not until the early 1960s that Peck’s mastery of his craft would intersect with an equally masterful script.
Peck won the Academy Award for his fifth nomination, playing the role of Atticus Finch, a Depression-era lawyer and widowed father, in the film adaptation of the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Released in 1962 during the height of the US civil rights movement in the South, this movie and his role were Peck’s favorite. In 2003, Atticus Finch was named the top film hero of the past 100 years by the American Film Institute. His other popular films include The Guns of Navarone, the war film where he starred with David Niven and Anthony Quinn, and Roman Holiday, in which he appeared as a reporter alongside Audrey Hepburn in her Oscar-winning film debut. Peck and Hepburn were close friends until her death, and Peck even introduced her to her first husband, Mel Ferrer.
In 1947, while many Hollywood figures were being blacklisted for similar activities, he signed a letter deploring a House Un-American Activities Committee investigation of alleged communists in the film industry.
In 1949, Peck, Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire founded The La Jolla Playhouse at his birthplace. This local community theater and landmark (now in a new home at the University of California, San Diego) still thrives today. It has attracted Hollywood film stars on hiatus both as performers and enthusiastic supporters since its inception.
He served as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1967, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute from 1967 to 1969, Chairman of the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund in 1971, and National Chairman of the American Cancer Society in 1966. He was a member of the National Council on the Arts from 1964 to 1966. President Richard Nixon placed Peck on his enemies list due to his liberal activism.
A lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party, Peck was suggested in 1970 as a possible Democratic candidate to run against Ronald Reagan for the office of Governor of California. Gregory Peck encouraged one of his sons, Carey Peck, to run for political office. Carey was defeated both times he tried for Congress, in 1978 and in 1980, by Republican Congressman Robert K. Dornan, both times by slim margins.
In an interview with the Irish media, Peck revealed that former President Lyndon Johnson had told him that, had he sought re-election, he intended to offer Peck the post of US ambassador to Ireland — a post Peck, due to his Irish ancestry, said he might well have taken, saying, “it would have been a great adventure.”
He was outspoken against the Vietnam War, while remaining supportive of his son, Stephen, who was fighting there. In 1972, Peck produced the film version of Daniel Berrigan’s play The Trial of the Catonsville Nine about the prosecution of a group of Vietnam protesters for civil disobedience. Despite his initial reluctance to portray the controversial General Douglas MacArthur on screen, he did so in 1977 and ended up with a great admiration for the man.
Though so well known and loved, he was not above all criticism. Pauline Kael described him as “competent but always a little boring.” Even those greatly admiring him would admit to a touch of stiffness in certain roles. Yet these qualities may have been a necessary trade-off for the iconic status he reached, and he may have known it.
A physically powerful man, he was known to do a majority of his own fight scenes, rarely using body or stunt doubles. In fact, Robert Mitchum, his on screen opponent in Cape Fear, often said that Peck once accidentally punched him for real during their final fight scene in the movie. He said that he felt the impact of the punch for days afterwards and said, “I don’t feel sorry for anyone dumb enough who picks a fight with him.”
Gregory Peck was married twice and had five children. He had three sons by his first wife, Greta Kukkonen, and a son and daughter by his second wife, Veronique Passani. Children with Kukkonen: Jonathan (b. 1944 – d. 1975), Stephen (b. 1945) and Carey Paul (b. 1949). Children with Veronique Passani: Tony (b. 1956) and Cecilia (b. 1958). In 1975, Peck’s 30 year-old son Jonathan, a television news reporter, committed suicide by gunshot.
Peck owned the thoroughbred steeplechase racehorse Different Class which raced in England. The horse was the favorite for the 1968 Grand National but finished third.
Gregory Peck was close friend with French president Chirac, who stated on his death, “Depuis de nombreuses années, il était pour moi un ami très cher.” meaning “For numerous years, he was a very dear friend of mine.”
He was of Armenian, British, Scottish, and Irish heritage.
In the 1980s Peck moved to television, where he starred in the mini-series The Blue and the Gray, playing Abraham Lincoln. He also starred in the TV film The Scarlet and The Black about a real-life Roman Catholic priest in the Vatican who smuggled Jews and other refugees away from the Nazis during World War II.
Peck retired from active film-making in 1991, having received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1989, and Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema in 1996.
In 2000, Peck was made a Doctor of Letters by the National University of Ireland. He was a founding patron of the University College Dublin School of Film, where he persuaded Martin Scorsese to become an honorary patron.
Like Cary Grant before him, Peck spent the last few years of his life touring the world doing speaking engagements in which he would show clips from his movies, reminisce, and answer questions from the audience.
In early 2003, Gregory Peck was offered the role of Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He said he’d seriously consider it. He was looking forward to playing Grandpa Joe which he considered “the greatest swan song of them all,” but he died before he could accept.
On June 12, 2003, Peck died in his sleep from cardiorespiratory arrest and bronchial pneumonia at the age of 87 in Los Angeles. His wife of 48 years was at his side. Peck is buried in the mausoleum of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Gregory Peck has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6100 Hollywood Blvd. In November 2005, the star was stolen. It has been replaced with a new one.
Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 3, 1847. He enrolled in the University of London to study anatomy and physiology, but his college time was cut short when his family moved to Canada in 1870. His parents had lost two children to tuberculosis, and they insisted that the best way to save their last child was to leave England.
When he was eleven, Bell invented a machine that could clean wheat. He later said that if he had understood electricity at all, he would have been too discouraged to invent the telephone. Everyone else “knew” it was impossible to send voice signals over a wire.
While trying to perfect a method for carrying multiple messages on a single wire, he heard the sound of a plucked spring along 60 feet of wire in a Boston electrical shop. Thomas A. Watson, one of Bell’s assistants, was trying to reactivate a telegraph transmitter. Hearing the sound, Bell believed that he could solve the problem of sending a human voice over a wire. He figured out how to transmit a simple current first, and received a patent for that invention on March 7, 1876. Five days later, he transmitted actual speech. Sitting in one room, he spoke into the phone to his assistant in another room, saying the now famous words: “Mr. Watson, come here. I need you.” The telephone patent is one of the most valuable patents ever issued.
Bell had other inventions as well — his own home had a precursor to modern day air conditioning, he contributed to aviation technology, and his last patent, at the age of 75, was for the fastest hydrofoil yet invented.
Bell was committed to the advancement of science and technology. As such he took over the presidency of a small, almost unheard-of, scientific society in 1898: the National Geographic Society. Bell and his son-in-law, Gilbert Grosvenor, took the society’s dry journal and added beautiful photographs and interesting writing — turning National Geographic into one of the world’s best-known magazines. He also is one of the founders of Science magazine.
Bell died on August 2, 1922. On the day of his burial, all telephone service in the US was stopped for one minute in his honor.
Alexander Melville Bell (1819-1905), who is Alexander Graham Bell’s father, was the international known teacher of discernible speech. The Bell family moved from Scotland to Canada in the year of 1870. In both Scotland and Canada, Alexander Graham had lessons, from his father, in the course of visible speech. In 1871, a school in Boston invited him to visit to train some of the teachers the visible speech, which his father had invented. Bell, by 1871 had improved his fathers’ speech system by working on it. Two years later in 1873, he became a professor at Boston University, he taught there until 1877. Little did anyone know that later on Alexander Graham Bell would make an invention that would change America, then the world.