Who was George Peppard?

The late American actor George William Peppard Jr. was born in Detroit, Michigan USA, on 1 October 1928, making Libra his zodiac sign. He had 59 acting credits, and is perhaps still remembered best for playing one of the main characters Paul Varjak in the evergreen 1961 romantic comedy movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, which also starred Audrey Hepburn and Patricia Neal, and was directed by Blake Edwards. It follows a socialite from New York City who’s fallen for her new neighbor, and the movie won 11 of its 24 award nominations, including two Oscar wins for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Best Music, Original Song.

George was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1992, and had to undergo surgery during which part of one of his lungs was removed; this led him to stop smoking cigarettes, as he’d previously smoked three packs a day, but George died from pneumonia on 8 May 1994, aged 65.

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Education and early life

George was raised an only child in Detroit, by his mother Vernelle Rohrer who was an opera singer and voice teacher, and father George Peppard Sr. who was a building contractor; Vernelle had suffered five miscarriages prior to giving birth to George.

The Peppards lost their money during the Great Depression, which led George’s father to go looking for work, and leave him and his mother in Detroit. George studied at Dearborn High School, from which he matriculated in 1946.

He joined the US Marine Corps on 8 July 1946, and left in January 1948 as a Corporal.

George enrolled at Purdue University in 1948, and it was during his time there that he became interested in acting; he was a member of the university’s theatre troupe Purdue Playmakers and the fraternity Beta Theta Pi. He eventually transferred to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1955; it took George longer than his peers to graduate because he briefly dropped out in 1951, after his father passed away and he had to take care of his businesses.

George later also obtained his pilot’s license, and had his own Learjet based in Wichita, Kansas.

Roles in TV series

George’s debut TV series role was playing Joe in the 1956 episode “The Dream Killers” of the drama “The Big Story”, and the following year saw him appear in an episode of the comedy “The United States Steel Hour”, the drama “The Kaiser Aluminum Hour”, and the drama “Studio One”.

Also in 1957, he portrayed Jesse Stuart in three episodes of the horror mystery “Matinee Theatre”, which starred John Conte and Sarah Churchill, and is a compilation of literary classics’ adaptations; the series aired from 1955 through 1958 and won two awards.

In 1961, George portrayed Teddy Roosevelt in the episode “The Invincible Teddy” of the biographical historical drama “Our American Heritage”, and he had only a single other TV series role in the ‘60s, portraying Buddy Wren in the 1964 episode “The Game with Glass Pieces” of the adventure crime comedy “Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre”.

From 1972 through 1974, he portrayed the lead character Thomas Banacek in all 17 episodes of the crime mystery “Banacek”, which also starred Ralph Manza and Murray Matheson, and was created by Anthony Wilson; it follows the life of American-Polish insurance investigator Thomas Banacek. In 1975 and 1976, George played Dr. Jake Goodwin in 13 episodes of the drama “Doctors’ Hospital”, and the year 1979 saw him make a guest appearance in an episode of the critically acclaimed crime mystery “CHiPs”.

From 1983 through 1987, George starred as John ‘Hannibal’ Smith in all 97 episodes of the action crime adventure “The A-Team”, which also starred Mr. T and Dwight Schultz, and was created by Stephen J. Cannell; it follows four Vietnam veterans who’ve been wrongfully accused of a crime, and the series won three of the eight awards for which it was nominated.

George’s final TV series role was playing Max Morgan in the 1994 episode “The P. I.” of the crime mystery “Matlock”.

Roles in movies

George’s debut film role was playing Robert Marquales in the 1957 drama “The Strange One”, which starred Ben Gazzara and Pat Hingle, and was directed by Jack Garfein; it follows a group of students as they’re attending a military college. Some of George’s following roles were in the 1958 drama “Little Moon of Alban”, the 1959 war drama “Pork Chop Hill”, and the 1960 romantic drama “Home from the Hill”.

The year 1962 saw him play Zeb Rawlings in the romantic western drama “How the West Was Won”, which starred James Stewart and John Wayne, and was directed by John Ford. It follows the Westward expansion in the 19th century, and the movie won 10 of the 15 awards for which it was nominated, including three Oscar wins for Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay. George could then have been seen appearing in the 1963 war drama “The Victors”, the 1964 romantic drama “The Carpetbeggars” and the 1965 war action “Operation Crossbow”.

What marked the remainder of the ‘60s for him was perhaps playing the lead character Police Captain Frank Matthews in the 1969 crime thriller “Pendulum”, which also starred Jean Seberg and Richard Kiley, and was directed by George Schaefer. It follows Frank Matthews who’s been wrongfully accused of killing his wife and her lover, and the movie was nominated for only a single award.

The first half of the ‘70s saw George appear in the 1971 western comedy “One More Train to Rob”, the 1972 western “The Bravos” and the 1972 action crime mystery “The Groundstar Conspiracy”. In 1977, he starred as Denton in the science fiction “Damnation Alley”, which also starred Jan-Michael Vincent and Dominique Sanda, and was directed by Jack Smight. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the film follows a group of survivors in search of other settlements, and it was nominated for a 2018 International Film Music Critics Award for Best New Release, Re-Release or Re-Recording of an Existing Score.

Some of George’s most notable performances in the ‘80s were perhaps in the 1982 comedy “Twilight Theatre”, the 1982 action crime adventure “Jugando con la Muerte” and the 1989 crime thriller “Man Against the Mob: The Chinatown Murders”.

His final film role was playing Sid Slaughter in the 1992 crime drama “Die Tigerin”, which starred Valentina Vargas and James Remar, and was written and directed by Karin Howard; it follows an independent street walker who’s fallen in love with a grifter.

Other credits

George worked as a second unit director on seven episodes of the 1974 crime mystery series “Banacek”, and directed the 1978 crime action movie “Five Days from Home”.

Some of his final talk-show appearances were in “This Is Your Life”, “The Pat Sajak Show” and “Clive James’ Postcard from…”

Awards and nominations

George won two of his five award nominations: a 1960 National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, for “Home from the Hill” and a 1960 Golden Laurel Award for Top Male New Personality.

He was also nominated for a 1961 BAFTA Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles, for his performance in “Home from the Hill”, and two Laurel Awards for Dramatic Performance, Male in 1965 and 1967, for “The Carpetbaggers” and “The Blue Max”, respectively.

George was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 17 July 1985.

Love life and marriages

George married five times and had three children.

His first wife was non-celebrity American woman Helen Davies; they exchanged vows on 30 January 1954, had a son Bradford and a daughter Julie together, but divorced in February 1965.

George’s second wife was American actress Elizabeth Ann Cole; they married on 17 April 1966, when she was 27 and he 38 years old, and she gave birth to their son Christian. Their divorce was finalized on 28 February 1972.

George’s third wife was former American actress and realtor Sherry Lynn Boucher; they married on 30 January 1975 and divorced on 26 October 1979. Sherry was 18 years his junior.

His fourth wife was American actress Alexis Adams, whom he married on 8 December 1984 and divorced two years later.

George was married to his fifth wife Laura Taylor from 10 September 1992 until his passing in 1994; she’s a licensed mental health counselor.

Interesting facts and hobbies

George was an alcoholic until 1978, when he was able to stop drinking and began helping other alcoholics.

He was mentored by the late acting coach Lee Strasberg at the Actors’ Studio.

George was nearly cast to star in the critically acclaimed 1960 action adventure movie “The Magnificent Seven”, but the role instead went to Steve McQueen; the movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

George was into politics, and was a Democrat; he campaigned for healthcare reform until his passing.

He was to star in the popular romantic series “Dynasty”, which aired from 1981 through 1989, but was fired after three weeks of shooting because he clashed with the producers.

George was a philanthropist and donated large sums of money to charity organizations working with underprivileged children.

Height, eyes and wealth

George would’ve been 94 today. He had blue eyes and grey hair, was 6ft (1.83m) tall and weighed around 170lbs (78kgs).

George’s net worth was estimated at over $5 million at the time of his passing.

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