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It's easier to be the bad guy. It's harder to make the good guy interesting

Known as “the nice guy of Hollywood,” screen legend Gregory Peck was the good guy both onscreen and off.

He was born Eldred Peck in California and, after his parents divorced, was brought up by his grandmother, who would regularly take him to the cinema. He considered becoming a doctor, but changed his mind and headed to New York for a career on the stage when he left university.

A year after breaking through on Broadway, he was in Hollywood, where his second film role in The Keys to the Kingdom earned him an Oscar nomination.

With his square jaw and sincere, upright manner, he was well suited to such roles. He was a noble Russian fighting off the Nazis in Days of Glory, Captain Ahab in Moby Dick and played a lighter warmer character opposite his friend Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. He was menaced by Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear and by the boy Damien in The Omen.

He is above all, remembered for the role of the dynamic, heroic lawyer Atticus Finch, a lawyer risking life and limb to combat racism in 1930s Alabama in the big screen version of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird .

“The defendant is not guilty,” Peck as Finch says on screen: “But somebody in this courtroom is. Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levellers. In our courts, all men are created equal”

The performance earned Peck an Academy Award and was his own personal favourite of his own films. Like many of his characters, it reflected his own essential decency and commitment to liberal causes in his own life.