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The Tragic Death of Gregory Peck & His Son

Gregory Peck is a notorious American actor who is active from the 1940s all the way into the late 1970s. He was an extremely popular performer who was in very high demand in his era. He starts acting after studying theater at the Neighborhood Playhouse with his mentor Sandford Meisner. Sandford teaches him an approach to acting that becomes famous as the Meisner technique.

Peck went on to appear in over fifty stage plays including three Broadway productions. Jumping from the stage to the screen. He gains his first critical success in cinema in 1944s The Keys of the Kingdom. He plays successful films, The Valley of Decision in 1944, Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound in 1945, and The Yearling in 1946.

Gregory expands that decade with a few films that didn’t fare quite as well with the critics. He’s pretty profitable for the box office including 1947s The Paradine Case and 1948s The Great Sinner.

Captain Horatio Hornblower

Peck achieves global fame in the 1950s and 1960s appearing in films like Captain Horatio Hornblower in 1951. And the biblical drama David and Bathsheba later that same year. He goes on to star alongside Hollywood ‘it-girl’ Ava Gardner in The Snows of Kilimanjaro in 1952. Then joining forces with the legendary Audrey Hepburn in 1953s Roman Holiday which earned Peck a Golden Globe Award.

In the 1960s and 70s, Peck appears in such films as 1961s The Guns of Navarone, 1962s Cape Fear, 1976s The Omen, and The Boys from Brazil in 1978.

Hollywoods Career

Throughout his Hollywood career, Peck is famous for portraying protagonists of high moral fiber. He is a gifted actor who is praised for his talents by critics and audiences alike. He wins the Academy Award for Best Actor as Atticus Finch in 1962, an adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Pretty much every project that he commits to elevates by his presence.

Peck was also very active in the political realm. He challenges the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 and consider it a fierce political opponent of President Richard Nixon. Lyndon B. Johnson entrusted Peck with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 for his lifelong commitment to humanitarian issues.

Peck enjoys a fulfilling career in the entertainment industry, also experiencing his share of adversity and peril throughout his life. One event in particular that devastated Peck beyond work was the sudden and tragic death of his son, Jonathan.

Jonathan Peck’s Suicide Left Gregory Reeling In Agony

Jonathan Peck was a tall and handsome young man. After college, he enrolls in the Peace Corps and spends years in Tanzania working on an agricultural syllabus in Swahili. Upon returning to California, Jonathan works at a LA radio station and later a Santa Maria TV station. He was a kind and polite individual who didn’t do drugs and rarely ever drank. He commits to his goals and ideals to waste his youth on partying.

Though his ethics are his guiding light, Jonathan’s colleagues notice a dark side to his personality that they can’t ignore. He can be self-conscious at times and hide a great deal of inner turmoil that he’s unwilling to face head-on.

Gregory’s Loss Of His Son

One ill-fated summer day, Jonathan called his boss to let him know that he was having some trouble finding stories. He receives a new assignment and seemed fairly excited about it, but later that evening he killed himself. That was back in 1975 when Jonathan was just 31.

Gregory is ravaged by the loss of his son. For two years, he refused to act. He wants to be alone so he can mourn in peace.

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And don’t you even think about going anywhere just yet. Stick around to see how Gregory Peck’s other son Tony managed to turn his life around after almost going down the same path as his brother, Jonathan.

Gregory Peck’s Son Tony Almost Threw His Life Away As Well

When your dad is a Hollywood legend with an enormous mansion high up in the Hills above Hollywood and your loving, gorgeous wife is nothing but supportive of your dreams and ambitions, you might think that life would be one long, blissful, painless journey, but that wasn’t the case for Gregory Peck’s youngest son, Anthony.

Tony, as he prefers, is downright miserable in the early 90s. So much so, that even his marriage to supermodel Cheryl Tiegs couldn’t keep him happy.

The main source of his unhappiness was his massive drinking problem. Throughout his life, Tony’s alcoholism repeatedly threw his life into jeopardy. It placed this incredibly heavy strain on his interpersonal relationships. His drinking routinely interfered with his bond with his father and it eventually destroyed his marriage with Tiegs.

Tony’s Alcoholism

Tony’s alcoholism made him self-destructive and his behavior tested the patience of everyone around him who loved him including his wife and parents.

He always had this lingering fear in the back of his mind that his drinking might someday lead him to the same awful fate that befell his brother Jonathan. Tony didn’t want to go out like that. He already saw what kind of agony his brother’s suicide had on his father and he didn’t want to put him through that kind of hell again.

When Anthony’s behavior finally forced his wife to leave him, the shock of their divorce was the wake-up call that he needed to finally stop drinking for good. Tony is clean and sober ever since and back into his work in cinema with a renewed sense of focus and inspiration.

Gregory Almost Entered Into The Priesthood

It’s always interesting to look back on how a star’s life could have gone so radically different if they had made different life choices.

As a Roman Catholic, Peck once considered entering the priesthood. Later on in his life, a journalist inquired whether Peck was still a practicing catholic. He replied by confirming that he still considered himself to be a Roman Catholic but added that he wasn’t a religious fanatic by any stretch of the imagination. He shared that he didn’t always see eye-to-eye with some of the Pope’s views and that there were some issues that still concerned him like abortion, contraception, and the ordination of women, but nonetheless he continued to practice the faith in his own way.

His second marriage performs by a justice of the peace instead of by a priest because the Church forbids remarriage if a former spouse is still living and the marriage isn’t done.

Peck contributed a lot of funds to the missionary work of a friend of his that was a priest, Father Albert O’Hara, and served as a co-producer of an audio cassette recording of the New Testament with his son Stephen.

Gregory’s Wife, Veronique Passani Peck’s Death

Veronique was a longtime patron of the arts before she died in 2012 at the age of 80.

She was born in Paris, France but met her actor husband when he was en route to Italy to star in Roman Holiday in 1953. They formally met when she interviewed him for the newspaper France Soir but it was hard to stay professional because there were clear indications of chemistry between them that she couldn’t ignore.

Veronique moved to the United States when she was 23. She married Gregory on New Year’s Eve in 1955, just one day after he finalized the divorce with his first wife, Greta Kukkonen. She and Peck’s marriage fortunately faired a lot better than his previous one. They remained happily married for 48 years until his death in June 2003.

Inner City Cultural center

Veronique Peck did her part in creating the Inner City Cultural Center in South Los Angeles. She was also the founder of the Los Angeles Music Center in addition to being a long-time fundraiser for the LA Public Library. In the late 60s, she and her husband helped raise $50 million for the American Cancer Society.

Veronique passed away after having a heart attack at her Los Angeles Home. She survives by her two children, Anthony and Cecilia, a brother, and three grandchildren.

Gregory’s Death And Legacy

At the age of 87, Peck died in his sleep on June 12, 2003, after a brief bout with bronchopneumonia. Veronique was by his side when he passed.

He was laid to rest in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels mausoleum in Los Angeles. His eulogy was read by his long-time friend and fellow actor Brock Peters, whose character, Tom Robinson, was defended by Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Quite a few celebrities attended his funeral including Harrison Ford, Tony Danza, Michael York, and Harry Belafonte. It was quite the star-studded event.

Gregory Peck Cinematic Excellence

The Gregory Peck Award for Cinematic Excellence was created by his family in 2008 to commemorate him by honoring a director, producer, or actor’s life work. The honor was initially presented at the Dingle International Film Festival in Gregory’s ancestral home of Dingle, Ireland, but since 2012 it has been presented at the San Diego International Film Festival. Recipients of the award so far include Gabriel Byrne, Alan Arkin, Laura Dern, Patrick Stewart, Annette Bening, and Laurence Fishburne.

Despite having to deal with so much death and loss in his life, Gregory Peck always managed to stay positive. He was a kind-hearted, gentle man who recognized that the most important things in life couldn’t be purchased or attained through climbing the social ladder. He remained true to his vision and ideals right up until the end – and when he passed away, he left behind a legacy that few could compete with.

Anyway, now’s your turn to let your voice be heard. In the comments section below let us know which one of Gregory Peck’s movies you appreciated the most, Cape Fear or The Boys of Brazil.

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