George Peppard


George Peppard

Infobox actor
name = George Peppard


caption = screenshot from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'
birthname = George Peppard, Jr.
birthdate = birth date|1928|10|1|mf=y
location = Detroit, Michigan, United States
deathdate = death date and age|1994|5|8|1928|10|1|
deathplace = Los Angeles, California, United States
spouse = Helen Davies (1954–1964) Elizabeth Ashley (1966–1972) Sherry Boucher (1975–1979) Alexis Adams (1984–1986) Laura Taylor (1992–1994)
awards = NBR Award for Best Supporting Actor 1960 "Home from the Hill"

George Peppard, Jr. (October 1 1928May 8 1994) was an American film and television actor.

He secured a major role early in his career when he starred alongside Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961), but he is probably best known to younger audiences for his role as Col. John "Hannibal" Smith in the 1980s television show "The A-Team", where he is the cigar-chomping leader of a renegade commando squad, and as the millionaire sleuth "Banacek".

Biography

Early life

George Peppard, Jr. was born in Detroit, Michigan. The son of building contractor George Peppard, Sr. and opera singer Vernelle Rohrer, he graduated from Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Michigan.

Peppard enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at 17 and rose to rank of acting Gunnery Sergeant in the artillery, leaving the Marines at the end of his first tour. He studied Civil Engineering at Purdue University where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi. He also attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Acting career

Peppard made his stage debut in 1949 at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. He then enrolled in The Actors Studio in New York. His first work on Broadway led to his first television appearance, with a young Paul Newman, in "The United States Steel Hour" (1956). Peppard’s Broadway appearance in "The Pleasure of His Company" (1958) led to an MGM contract. Prior to a strong film debut in "The Strange One" (1957), he was discovered playing with Robert Mitchum's illegitimate son in the popular melodrama "Home from the Hill" (1960).

His good looks, elegant manner and superior acting skills landed Peppard his most famous film role as Paul Varjak (though Holly Golightly would usually refer to him as "Fred") in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" with Audrey Hepburn. This role boosted him briefly to a major film star. His leading roles included "How the West Was Won" in 1962, "The Carpetbaggers" in 1964 and "The Blue Max" in 1966.

Peppard developed a tendency to choose tough guy roles in big, ambitious pictures where he was somewhat overshadowed by ensemble casts; for example, his role as German pilot Bruno Stachel, an obsessively competitive officer from humble beginnings who challenges the Prussian aristocracy during World War I in "The Blue Max" (1966). For this role, Peppard learned to fly, earned a private pilot's license and did his own stunt flying.

Due to Peppard's tendencies toward alcohol, his career led to a string of B films (see list below), except for a brief moment of notable success with the highly successful TV series "Banacek" (1972-74), (part of the "NBC Mystery Movie" series), and one of his most critically acclaimed, though rarely seen, performances in the TV movie "Guilty or Innocent: The Sam Sheppard Murder Case" (1975).

Among the disappointing films was the 1970 Western, "Cannon for Cordoba", in which Peppard played the steely Captain Rod Douglas, who has been put in charge of gathering a group of soldiers on a dangerous mission into Mexico, and 1967's "Rough Night in Jericho" in which he co-starred with Dean Martin. Peppard appeared in the short lived (only 1/2 season) "Doctors' Hospital" (1975) and several other television films. He was in the science fiction film "Damnation Alley" in 1977. With fewer interesting film roles coming his way, he acted in, directed and produced the drama "Five Days from Home" (1979).

In a rare game show appearance, Peppard did a week of shows on "Password Plus" in 1979. Out of five shows, one was never broadcast on NBC (but aired much later on GSN) due to a rant where Peppard expressed dissatisfaction with NBC executives watching "as if you're some sort of crook." Peppard was never asked to return to the show again.

"Dynasty (1981)"

Peppard was offered the original role of Blake Carrington in the TV series "Dynasty" (1981) and filmed the pilot episode with Linda Evans and Bo Hopkins. Peppard later turned down the role due to disagreements with writers; the part was subsequently offered to John Forsythe and the scenes with Peppard were reshot.

"The A-Team"

In the early 1980s, George Peppard re-emerged as a television star for his role as Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith in the action adventure series "The A-Team", acting alongside Mr. T, Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz. In the series, the A-Team was a crack squad of renegade commandos on the run from the military for a crime they did not commit while serving in the Vietnam war. The A-Team made a living as soldiers of fortune, albeit only helping people with a just grievance.

"Hannibal" Smith was the leader of the A-Team, distinguished by his cigar-smoking, black leather gloves, disguises and catch phrase, "I love it when a plan comes together." The show ran five seasons on NBC from 1983–1987. It made Peppard known to a younger generation and is arguably his most well-known role. The role was reportedly written with James Coburn in mind, but went to Peppard when Coburn had to pull out.

Personal life

Peppard married five times, and was the father of three children:
*Helen Davies (1954–1964): two children, Bradford and Julie
*Elizabeth Ashley (1966–1972), his co-star in "The Carpetbaggers": one son, Christian
*Sherry Boucher-Lytle (1975–1979)
*Alexis Adams (1984–1986)
*Laura Taylor (1992–1994)

Peppard gave up drinking in 1978 and spent his later years trying to assist other alcoholics with recovering.

A life-long smoker, Peppard was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1992 and subsequently quit. His fifth wife and "number one fan", former West Palm Beach banker Laura Taylor, met and married him shortly after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and nursed him through his last 18 months. Cancer never forced his retirement from acting, and Peppard completed a pilot for a new series in 1994 (a Matlock spin-off) shortly before his passing.

Peppard died on May 8, 1994, in Los Angeles, California. Although he was being treated for cancer, his actual cause of death was a complication arising from the treatment he was getting - chemotherapy-induced leukemia. He is buried in Northview Cemetery in Dearborn, Michigan.

Filmography

*"The Tigress" (1992)
*"Ultra Warrior" (1990)
*"The A-Team" (1983–1987)
*"Hit Man" (1982)
*"Race for the Yankee Zephyr" (1981)
*"Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid" (1981)
*"Battle Beyond the Stars" (1980)
*"From Hell to Victory" (1979)
*"Five Days from Home" (1979)
*"Damnation Alley" (1977)
*"Doctors' Hospital" (1975-76)
*"Mid-Air Crash (TV)" (1975)
*"Newman's Law" (1974)
*"The Groundstar Conspiracy" (1972)
*"One More Train to Rob" (1971)
*"Cannon for Cordoba" (1970)
*"The Executioner" (1970)
*"Pendulum" (1969)
*"House of Cards" (1968)
*"What's So Bad About Feeling Good?" (1968)
*"P.J." (1968)
*"Rough Night in Jericho" (1967)
*"Tobruk" (1967)
*"The Blue Max" (1966)
*"The Third Day" (1965)
*"Operation Crossbow" (1965)
*"The Carpetbaggers" (1964)
*"The Victors" (1963)
*"How the West Was Won" (1962)
*"Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961)
*"The Subterraneans" (1960)
*"Home from the Hill" (1960)
*"Pork Chop Hill" (1959)
*"The Strange One" (1957)

External links

*imdb name|id=0000577|name=George Peppard
*tcmdb name|id=150152|name=George Peppard
*ibdb name|id=55901|name=George Peppard
*findagrave|1158 Retrieved on 2008-04-01
*tvtome person|id=6796|name=George Peppard


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