Retired Dingle publican Thomas Ashe, one of Peck’s Kerry cousins, recalled him as “a gentleman to his fingertips.”
A regular visitor to Kerry, Peck (87) was a warm, friendly, generous man “who never talked about the films he had been in at all, at all. He never boasted about his achievements.”
Thomas remembered the many evenings he spent having a pint or two with the Hollywood giant best known for his Oscar winning role in 1962 movie To Kill A Mockingbird. This very role won Peck the best hero accolade in a recent poll.
A few years ago, Thomas, realising his cousin’s fondness for the pint of plain, used his contacts in Guinness to make a dream of Peck’s come true.
“We were having a few pints one night and he mentioned that he would love to have a tap back in his place in California. I got in contact with Guinness in Dublin and they got on to their reps in California and the tap was installed. He was delighted.
His neighbours Jack Nickolson and Frank Sinatra’s wife would meet in Peck’s house regularly to play cards and drink pints, they all loved the stuff he told me.”
As a teenager Peck lived in Killarney for a time with his parents. During breaks in his long and stunning career in Hollywood he visited Ireland on a regular basis for holidays.
One of his first big break’s was John Huston’s Moby Dick which was filmed in Youghal, County Cork. Peck shot to stardom in 1944 with his film debut, Days of Glory. He went on to have lead roles in many classics, including Cape Fear, Spellbound and Roman Holiday.
He also served as president of the Motion Picture Academy and was active in the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
A keen political activist for the Democrat party, he was once tipped to run against Ronald Reagan to become governor of California.
He leaves his wife of 48 years, Veronique Passani, and four children, two from a previous marriage.