Picks and Pans Review: Gregory Peck
by Michael Freedland
Readers in search of salacious gossip will want to pass up this one. Freedland, a BBC radio broadcaster, has written an unauthorized biography that, however, "enjoyed the full cooperation" of the subject. The result is a conscientious, sober, tedious account. There are some tidbits—Peck's penchant for booze and Seconal when his marriage to Greta Kukkonen was falling apart. But the book rather righteously emphasizes Peck's considerable political and charitable work rather than his personal upheavals, including the suicide of his eldest son, Jonathan, at 32 in 1975. Peck's puckish sense of humor does come through. In describing "the real plot" of The Guns of Navarone, he suggests that "David Niven really loves Tony Quayle and Gregory Peck loves Anthony Quinn...Tony Quinn falls in love with Irene Papas and David Niven and Peck catch each other on the rebound and live happily ever after." The author also points up Peck's squabbling with director William Wyler when the two worked on The Big Country ("big screen, big budget and big fights"). Here, however, everybody ends up good friends "ever since." It is hard to believe Peck is as dispassionate and predictable as this dry biography makes him. (William Morrow, $10.95)
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