He kept the world spellbound for decades. Now Gregory Peck, Hollywood idol, is dead

Gregory Peck, the low-key, suavely charming leading man of 1940s and 1950s Hollywood, died at his home in Los Angeles yesterday. He was 87.

In a film career that spanned almost 50 years, Peck wheedled out the secrets of Ingrid Bergman's psychiatric clinic in Spellbound (1945), charmed Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday (1953) and played the provincial lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird (1962), a role that garnered him his sole Academy Award.

Peck had a greater range than his amiable demeanour suggested, and he ended up playing everyone from Captain Ahab in John Huston's adaptation of Moby Dick (1956) to Josef Mengele, the Nazi death camp doctor in The Boys from Brazil (1978). He was one of a crop of actors that bridged the gap between the golden age of the Hollywood studios in the 1930s and 1940s, and the new young Hollywood of Coppola and Scorsese in the 1960s and 1970s.

His personal life was uneventful by Hollywood standards: after an early divorce, he remained married to Veronique Passani for 49 years. He died peacefully with his wife holding his hand.

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