Gregory Peck: The American As Noble Man

When he died, Gregory Peck took movie idealism with him

The movie studio wanted Rock Hudson to play Atticus Finch. Fate decreed otherwise. Gregory Peck got the role of the small-town Southern lawyer in the 1962 film version of To Kill a Mockingbird. The hero of Harper Lee's Pulitzer-prizewinning novel had been a man much like her father, and when the author met the actor on the first day of shooting, she noted, "Gregory, you've got a little potbelly just like my daddy." The star replied, "Harper, that's great acting."

Actually, it was great inhabiting. "You never really understand a person ...," Atticus says, "until you climb inside of his...

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