|Household name and leading man par excellence, Gregory Peck, has died of natural causes at the age of 87. |
Peck made his debut in 1944 with Days of Glory and grew to become one of post-war Hollywood's archetypal movie stars. He starred in Hitchcock's Spellbound, the original Cape Fear and opposite Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday being regularly lauded for his roles. However, despite being nominated for four previous Oscars, Peck did not actually win until 1963, taking Best Actor for his role of Atticus Finch In To Kill a Mockingbird. Peck's turn as Finch earned the character the number one slot in the AFI's top 100 list of screen heroes earlier this month and had been cited by the actor as the favourite role of his career, "I suppose someday it will be on my tombstone," he once commented.
Taken on weekly trips to the cinema by his grandmother, Peck discovered an early love for the screen but did not realise his calling until he discovered acting while studying medicine at Berkeley. He enrolled in a New York playhouse before appearing in a number of Broadway hits including The Morning Star and finally making his way into the movies.
"His wife Veronique was with him when he passed away," said a spokesman for the actor. "She held his hand; he looked at her, closed his eyes and went to sleep. Contrary to some tabloid reports, he had not been gravely ill or suffered a stroke. He was 87 and getting fragile, and his remarkable life just came to an end."