Before answering, we’d like to recount a rather heatening story about Gregory Peck who at the time of this anecdote was a bit down in his cups. When summoned to star in William Wyler’s engaging romantic comedy, Roman Holiday — which introduced Audrey Hepburn as, what else, a princess — the actor was depressed.
His 13-year first marriage (to Helsinki-born Greta Kukkonen), which produced three sons, was collapsing, and Peck was in the throes of a divorce.
But during the production of Holiday, the actor encountered a French journalist by the name of Veronique Passani. He fell hard, and the two were married in 1955. The union lasted an eternity by Hollywood standards, until 2003 when Peck died at the age of 87.
Peck won an best actor Oscar for, of course, his portrayal of the heroic lawyer Atticus Finch in 1962’s To Kill A Mockingbird. But sometimes forgotten are Peck’s four additional best actor Oscar nominations for: 1949’s Twelve O’Clock High; 1947’s Gentleman’s Agreement; 1946’s The Yearling; and 1944’s The Keys of the Kingdom. By the end of his career, he was perhaps Hollywood’s most officially lauded star. And, mostly, for good reason.
Ok, now to the answers to our Gregory Peck Quiz:
1) Question: One of Peck’s more self effacing and charming roles came in 1953’s Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn. What role did he play in the picture? a) an American journalist in Europe; b) a diplomat; c) a news photographer; or d) a carefree heir to a fabulous fortune.
1) Answer: a) Peck played a likeable American journalist aided hugely by a freelance photographer portrayed by Eddie Albert (see below).
2) Question: In 1977, Peck portrayed one of America’s most acclaimed military figures. Which one? a) Dwight Eisenhower; b) Ulysses S. Grant; c) George Patton; or d) Douglas MacArthur.
2) Answer: d) Peck played Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1977’s MacArthur.
3) Question: Peck was a box office draw almost from his first movie. But which one of the following pictures earned him the most money? a) 1961’s The Guns of Navarone; b) 1963’s To Kill A Mockingbird; 1978’s The Boys From Brazil; or d) 1976’s The Omen.
3) Question: Given Hollywood’s traditionally opaque and secretive book keeping practises, it’s never a certainty about such things. But Peck is said to have signed a special deal to star in (d) the (very good) 1976 horror movie, The Omen, paying him less salary upfront and a percentage of the box office on the back end. The not terribly expensive movie was a box office sensation, rewarding Peck substantially.
4) Question: Besides Spellbound, Peck starred in one other picture for Alfred Hitchcock. Which one? a) Lifeboat; b) Rebecca; c) The Paradine Case; or d) Saboteur.
4) Answer: c) 1947’s The Paradine Case, in which Peck plays a lawyer who falls for his client (not a good idea).
5) Question: As mentioned in our intro, one of Peck’s finest films in 1962’s Cape Fear, which was remade in 1991 by Martin Scorsese, also with Peck in the cast. What role did he play in each version?
5) Answer:In the Scorsese version, Peck plays (yet again) a lawyer in behalf of an evil defendant (Robert DeNiro), a character played by Robert Mitchum in the original 1962 J. Lee Thompson version. In the original, Peck plays a wronged father, a role assigned by Nick Nolte in the Scorsese edition.