‘He Was Always Present’ for Children

Inside Roman holidays, Audrey asks Hepburn’s fugitive Princess Gregory Peck’s American reporter Joe to help her undress. “I’ve never been alone with a man before,” she says sweetly. Instead of taking advantage of the situation, Joe gives her a pair of his own pajamas and says he’s going out for coffee. “You’re sleeping on the couch, not on the bed,” he warns.

In a career spanning more than half a century, Gregory developed a specialty for acting as a gentleman of dignity and a strong moral character, such as Joe or Atticus Finch, in his Oscar-winning role. To kill a mockingbird. “There is a calm force in his being which is almost great.” Angie Dickinson Once said. Yet in his personal life, Gregory knew personal grief and struggled to meet his own high expectations. The death of a boy’s suicide in 1975 left him devastated by feelings of remorse and guilt. “If I had lived here in Los Angeles, he would have called me,” said the star, who was in Europe at the time with his wife, a resident of France.

Gregory Peck's Kids: 'He's Always Present' for Kids
Selgenic / Arco / Kobal / Shutterstock

Gregory’s belief in the importance of the family grew when his parents’ marriage broke down when he was just 5 years old. “He was born in La Jolla, a small town in California,” said Gregory’s son Stephen PeckA former Marine who is president and CEO of U.S. Vets, a nonprofit veteran, says Nearby. “Her parents divorced when she was younger, so she spent a lot of lonely days as a child.” She was initially sent to a military boarding school at the age of 10 by her grandmother, the young Gregory, then known by her real name, Eldred. There he realized that almost all the other students also came from the broken house. Stephen said: “There was some insecurity in her because she came from a divorced family. “Such a stick with you.”

In 1939, Gregory moved to New York to study acting. He starred in three Broadway plays before returning to the West to make his film debut in 1944. Day of glory. At the same time, he married hairdresser Greta Kukkonen. They had three sons, Jonathan, Stephen and Kerry Paul and Gregory were adopted. “When we were very young, we went to Yosemite because he did it with his father,” recalls Stephen.

In Hollywood, Gregory’s talent, tough work ethic, and good looks from leading-people set him apart from the pack. “He had that magic,” he said Lynn Haney TrobridgeA friend and author of Gregory Peck: A Charmed Life. “Women were crowding the cinema hall just to see him. He represented a person you could count on, who was kind and old-fashioned but also adventurous. “

In the prime years when he was building his career, his commitment to Gregory’s work was fulfilled and his family time was cut short. “He was a good father, even though he was gone for a long time. For a child, it’s always a challenge, “admits Stephen. His wife Greta also finds it difficult to have a missing husband. Their marriage was already in trouble when Gregory met Veronica Pasani, a French journalist sent to interview her in 1952. “Six months later, [while] Filming Roman holidaysHe called her in his newspaper and found her, “said their daughter. Cecilia PeckSaid.

The couple married in 1955, the day after Gregory’s divorce was finalized. “Despite the age gap of 17 years, there was a real partnership between them,” said Trobridge, who noted that the couple was very active in the National Council for the Arts, the Nuclear Council, the disarmament movement and other worthy causes. “I’m not a good person,” Gregory said. “I only participate in activities that I believe in.”

Veronica and Gregory’s children were Anthony and Cecilia, but they also worked to build a strong mixed family with Greta and Gregory’s older sons. “He loved bringing us all together,” said Stephen, who remembers his father as a well-rounded counselor. “He was always present and a really good listener,” he says.

The suicide of his son Jonathan at the age of 30 left Gregory, who was traveling in France with Veronica, shocked and devastated. Jonathan, a TV reporter, was dealing with health problems, a bad breakup, losing a friend and work problems when he died of a gunshot wound to the head. “I would tell him, ‘If the job is too stressful, leave it, tell them to stuff it,'” said Gregory, who has never been able to recover.

Gregory Peck's Kids: 'He's Always Present' for Kids
Kobal / Shutterstock

In his later years, Gregory settled contentedly into the life of a character actor and was active in the La Jolla playhouse, which he helped find. His first day friends including Frank Sinatra, Jack Lemon and Walter Matthews were poker friends. He maintained strong friendships with many of his leading women. “Ava Gardner liked that she could be a small town girl around her. She didn’t have to stand in front,” said Trobridge. Audrey Hepburn was a close friend of hers until her death. Enchanted Coster, when his relationship with director Roberto Rosellini made him an outsider.

When Gregory died in 2003 at the age of 87, Veronica was holding his hand. The world mourns the death of a great actor and the last true gentleman in Hollywood. “Inside all of the character and makeup, it’s you. I think the audience is really interested, “Gregory said.” And how you’re going to deal with the situation, the obstacles, and the problems that the author puts in front of you. “

– Reporting by Lewis A. Barrell

To learn more about this story, choose the latest issue Nearby Magazine, now on Newsstand.

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