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Peck: Actor of dignity.

Byline: The Register-Guard

In a film career dating back to the 1940s, Gregory Peck played many and varied parts. But in all of them, the characters he portrayed - from a crazed Captain Ahab in "Moby Dick" to the small town white Southern lawyer defending a wrongfully accused black man in "To Kill a Mockingbird" - were infused with Peck's own quiet and very personal dignity.

Peck, who died Thursday in Los Angeles, was a first-class film actor whose career spanned 54 years, from "Days of Glory" in 1944 to his final role, a character part in the 1998 remake for television of "Moby Dick," in which he starred as Ahab in 1956. In between, he was nominated for five Academy Awards - "The Keys of the Kingdom" (1944), "The Yearling" (1946), "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947), "Twelve O'Clock High" (1949) and the role for which he won the Oscar in 1962, Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird." Just this month, the part of Finch brought Peck the American Film Institute's award as the greatest film hero of all time.

While Peck was, by any standard, a true film star of the first magnitude, his private life was just that - private - with one notable exception. In 1987, Peck emerged from his privacy to appear in a 60-second television spot sponsored by People for the American Way in opposition to President Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the spot, Peck said, among other things: "He (Bork) defended poll taxes and literacy tests, which kept many Americans from voting. He opposed the civil rights law that ended 'whites only' signs at lunch counters." Bork's nomination was rejected.

Gregory Peck's multitude of film performances will long be remembered - and admired.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Film star dead at 87; Editorials
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 14, 2003
Words:289
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