The election of Barack Obama, our firstborn African-American President, brought to mind the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the outstanding actor, Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for his role as Atticus Finch in 1962.
Gregory Peck plays a widower with two children in a little Southern town for the duration of the Depression. He is an attorney and decides to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman.
Atticus Finch represents the most eminent ideals of a humane being, someone who is not only handsome and charismatic but a decent, courageous man of action. Those are the kinds of roles that Gregory Peck principally played all around his acting career.
He was born Eldred Gregory Peck on April 5, 1916, in La Jolla, California. “My mother had found ‘Eldred’ in a phone book, and I was stuck with it,” he said.
In the spring of 1939, as he was graduating from Berkeley with a B.A., Peck sold his Model A, and, with $160 in his pocket, he took a train to New York to seek his fortune as actor. On the three-day journey, he changed his name to Gregory Peck.
Peck missed World War II military service because he ruptured a disk in a dance class with Martha Graham, when she put her knee versus his back and pulled, attempting to aid him bend.
Because most of Hollywood’s leading men were at war, Peck became popular as a leading man. In the years to follow, he would play a heap of roles, including that of a priest, combat heroes, westerners, King David, sea captains, F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of the short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and Abraham Lincoln.
But the apex of his career came in 1962, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Peck said: ”I put everything I had into it – all my sensations and everything I’d learned in 46 years of living, with regards to family life and fathers and children. And my sensations when it comes to racial justice and inequality and opportunity.”
Here is share of his speech from “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “The defendant is not guilty. But somebody in this courtroom is… Now I am convinced that you gentlemen will review without passion the proof that you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this man to his family. In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson.”
Tragically, even with all the proof in Tom Robinson’s favor, the jury ends up convicting him, and he is shot to death while attempting to escape from prison.
Gregory Peck seemed to embody those calibers that made Atticus Finch such a beloved character.
A devoted liberal and defender of humane rights all around his life, he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights and almost ran for Governor of California versus Ronald Reagan. I wish he had, as Reagan closely single-handedly dismantled social services for persons who genuinely need it and now a heap of are homeless who ought to be treated in mental hospitals.
In 2003 when Peck was 87, he passed away in his home. Almost 3,000 persons attended Peck’s funeral. Let me conclude with the eulogy which Brock Peters, who played Tom Robinson, gave at Gregory Peck’s funeral:
“In art there is compassion, in compassionateness there is humanity, with humanity there is generosity and love. Gregory Peck gave us these traits in full measure. To this day the children of Mockingbird … call him Atticus.”