Born in La Jolla, California, in 1916, Gregory Peck studied pre-med at the University of California, Berkeley. He began acting while in college, and soon after moved to New York to further his interest. After several best actor nominations, Peck eventually won an Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He also starred opposite Audrey Hepburn in her debut in Roman Holiday, as well as many other notable films during his length career. Peck died in Los Angeles in 2003.
Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916, in La Jolla, California. His parents, Bernice “Bunny” Mae and Gregory Pearl Peck, separated when he was three and divorced several years later. As their marriage broke apart, young Gregory was primarily raised by his maternal grandmother. At the age of 10, Peck attended St. John’s Catholic Military Academy in Los Angeles before returning to live with his father while attending San Diego High School.
After graduating, Peck enrolled in the pre-med program at the University of California, Berkeley. It was there that he became interested in acting and appeared in several school plays. By the time he graduated in 1939, he had abandoned his plans to become a doctor and headed to New York City to pursue his passion for acting, winning a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse, where he studied with notable instructor Sanford Meisner.
While earning his living working various odd jobs around New York City, in 1942 Peck made his Broadway debut in The Morning Star. Though the production was not well received by audiences, Peck earned critical acclaim for his acting and his career began to blossom. Peck also married for the first time, to Greta Kukkonen, with whom he would have three children before their divorce in 1954.
In 1944, Peck landed a role in his first Hollywood film, Days of Glory, playing a Russian guerrilla fighter. His fame grew following the film’s release and continued to flourish later that year, with The Keys of the Kingdom, in which he played a missionary priest and earned his first in a flurry of Academy Award nominations. For his performance as a veteran of the Civil War in The Yearling (1946), Peck received his second Oscar nod, followed by a 1948 best-actor nomination for his portrayal of Philip Schuyler Green in Elia Kazan‘s Gentleman’s Agreement, a film about a reporter who pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism.