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CNN BREAKING NEWS

AP: Actor Gregory Peck Dead at Age 87

Aired June 12, 2003 - 13:50   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. And just as we are finishing up that story, we are getting word now coming to us from the Associated Press about another death today. We've already heard about David Brinkley with ABC News. We are now hearing about actor Gregory Peck, dead at the age of 87.
We will look more into this and of course, give you details on his life. And as you see, winning the Oscar for "To Kill a Mockingbird." Many of us remember that, reading that through high school and seeing it on the screen, as well.

We'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Getting some more sad news this afternoon about Gregory Peck, a very well known actor with a very long career, apparently died overnight. We hearing this word from the Associated Press out of Los Angeles this afternoon.

"To Kill a Mockingbird," won an Oscar for that performance. Very well known, also, for his role and portrayal in "Moby Dick." Gregory Peck, dead at the age of 87.

We're going to take a look now at his life and works.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pleased to meet you.

GREGORY PECK, ACTOR: Pleased to meet you, girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): From his earliest films beginning in the 1940s, Gregory Peck quickly established himself as a star and one of Hollywood's leading leading men.

Over five decades and in films like "Duel in the Sun," "The Gunfighter," "Twelve O'Clock High" and "The Omen," Peck took on a variety of roles. But he most often played characters of integrity and with a strong sense of social conscience, as he did in "Gentleman's Agreement" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." They were qualities that friends and fans quickly recognized in the actor himself.

PECK: Inside of all the makeup and the characterization, it's you. And I think that's what the odd audience is really interested in, you. How are you going to cope with, with this situation, with the obstacles and the troubles that the writers put in front of you? I think that basically they're more interested in the person than they are in the acting skill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it was his acting skill that earned Peck an Academy Award for best actor in 1962 for his performance in "To Kill a Mockingbird." He played an attorney trying to break through a wall of prejudice, defending a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman.

PECK: A quiet, humble, respectable Negro who has had the unmitigated temerity to feel sorry for a white woman has had to put his word against two white people.

PECK: I feel extremely lucky to have had a picture like that in my background, because it's not forgotten. It's played in the high schools, the junior high schools, on the cassettes. They write papers about it. So it's a blessing. I'm very frank to say that I'll always be grateful for having at least one like that along the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Along the way, Peck starred with a host of leading ladies, including Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Bacall and Jane Fonda.

Among his many awards, Peck was a Kennedy Center honoree and a recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award. Just before the AFI ceremony in 1999, Peck reluctantly talked about his contribution to the art of film.

PECK: I hope that my main contribution has been to entertain people over the years, to give them enjoyment, some pleasure, some excitement, some romance, something to think about. Something to carry away from the theater with them so that they think of me as an old friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An old friend the world now mourns.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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