Versatile film star Gregory Peck dies

GREGORY PECK, the handsome movie star whose long career included such classics as Roman Holiday, Spellbound and his Academy Award-winner, To Kill a Mockingbird, died yesterday. He was 87.

Peck's craggy good looks, lanky grace and measured speech contributed to his screen image as the decent, courageous man of action. From his film debut in 1944 with Days of Glory, he was never less than a star. He was nominated for the Oscar five times, and his range of roles was astonishing.

He portrayed a priest in Keys of the Kingdom, combat heroes in Twelve O'Clock High and Pork Chop Hill, Westerners in Yellow Sky and The Gunfighter, a romantic in Roman Holiday. His commanding presence suited him for legendary characters: King David in David and Bathsheba, sea captains in Captain Horatio Hornblower and Moby Dick, F Scott Fitzgerald in Beloved Infidel, the war leader MacArthur, and Abraham Lincoln in the TV mini-series The Blue and the Grey.

Off-screen as well as on, Peck conveyed a quiet dignity. He had one amicable divorce, and scandal never touched him.

He served as president of the Motion Picture Academy and was active in the Motion Picture and Television Fund, American Cancer Society (news web sites), National Endowment for the Arts and other causes.

Peck died at his Los Angeles home overnight, with his wife, Veronique, at his side, Monroe Friedman said.

"She told me very briefly that he died peacefully. She was with him, holding his hand, and he just went to sleep," Friedman said.

"He had just been getting older and more fragile. He wasn't really ill. He just sort of ran his course and died of old age."

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