I don't think many of us realize how big a risk Gregory Peck took in making movies like To Kill A Mockingbird and Gentleman's Agreement, or what it means today to have those movies in cinematic history.
Here's some stuff I didn't know.
A Roosevelt New Dealer, Peck campaigned for Harry Truman in 1948 "at a time when nobody thought he had a chance to win." He continued championing liberal causes, producing an anti-Vietnam War film in 1972, "The Trial of the Cantonsville Nine" and helping the campaign against the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987.
Rumors arose periodically that Peck planned to run for office. They started when Ronald Reagan defeated Edmund G. "Pat" Brown for governor of California in 1966. Brown cracked: "If they're going to run actors for governor, maybe the Democrats should have run Greg Peck."
Oh if only! But I don't want to dwell on that. I think that when Peck played Atticus Finch, it wasn't so much that he was so good, and dedicated, and brave but that he made us care about what he cared about. I'm still digesting the news so my thoughts feel thin and unfinished but I did want to mention this before it got swallowed up by all the other news out there.