Monday, December 14, 2020

Seven Things to Know About George Peppard

Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
1. George Peppard didn't get along with either of his female co-stars on the set of Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). According to Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion, he and Patricia Neal were friends when they attended the Actors Studio in the 1950s. However, her opinion of him had changed by the time they made Tiffany's: "Boy, he'd gotten rotten. At the Actors Studio, I'd adored him." As for Audrey Hepburn, she and Peppard seemed unable to overcome their different personalities. He sometimes referred to her as the "Happy Nun" on the set (she had made The Nun's Story two years earlier).

2. George Peppard was married five times. His second wife was actress Elizabeth Ashley, who commented  in a 2015 interview: "I married a movie star 11 years older than me because I was looking for a father. Big mistake! Granted, he was gorgeous. Maybe too gorgeous! And good for breeding. But I believe it was doomed from the start." Peppard and Ashley had met on the set of The Carpetbaggers (1964) and they shared top billing the following year in The Third Day. Their marriage lasted six years and they had a son, Christian (also an actor).

George Peppard as Banacek.
3. After Peppard's film career hit a lull, he starred in Banacek, one of the rotating series that aired as part of the NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie in 1972. Thomas Banacek was a very successful free-lance insurance investigator who lived in a plush house on Boston's Beacon Hill and had a chauffeur. In the first season episode "Project Phoenix," Banacek mentioned that he learned "combat judo" in the Marine Corps. Peppard actually served in the Marines from 1946-48 and rose to the rank of corporal.

4. At the 2004 SF Ball X, A-Team regular Dwight Schultz talked about working with George Peppard. On Schultz's first day on the set, Peppard walked up to him and said: "Hello, I’m George Peppard. I’m not a very nice man. I used to be a drunk. I tell everybody that. I’m not a drunk anymore." Schultz also said that both Peppard and Mr. T considered themselves to be the star the show. So, when Peppard started leaving the set at 5:00 pm each day, so did Mr. T. The shooting schedule had to be rearranged so that Schultz and Dirk Benedict could stay late to complete any scenes without the show's "stars."

5. Although known for his film and TV roles, Peppard also performed on stage. He made his Broadway debut in 1956 opposite Shelley Winters and Pat Hingle in Girls of Summer. A young Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the title song, was uncredited in the play's original program.

Peppard and Linda Evans on Banacek.
6. According to TV Guide, George Peppard was the original choice to play Blake Carrington on the TV series Dynasty. He was replaced by John Forsyte due to "creative differences" with the show's producers (interestingly, Linda Evans had been a guest star on Banacek). Peppard did star in another TV series between Banacek and The A-Team. He portrayed a neurosurgeon in Doctors' Hospital, which lasted 16 episodes on NBC in 1975-76. The show co-starred Zohra Lampert and John Larroquette.

7. George Peppard was married five times. In addition to Ashley, his fourth wife Sherry Boucher was an actress. He had three children, one with Ashley and two with his first wife Helen Davies. George Peppard died in 1994 at age 65 from pneumonia. A former smoker for many years, he had been battling lung cancer.

10 comments:

  1. Arrogant SOB on screen. Appropriately cast as such in The Blue Max, Carpetbaggers. And Banacek. He quit Banacek after two years so Liz Ashley wouldn't get part of his salary.

    When he was on Password, he ranted about the "Police State" contract he had to sign. While it didn't air originally - it got him banned from all the producers' future shows.

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    1. I wouldn't call Banacek arrogant.

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    2. He knows he's the smartest guy in the room. And lets you know it. His job to humiliate the insurance company. And make them pay for the honor.

      BUT who knows....One man's meat is another man's borscht.

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    3. But Banacek IS the smartest guy in the room. His job isn't to humiliate the insurance company. Often, they ask for his help. His job to find the missing item and get paid!

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    4. The humiliation is that they need him. It's why he's in that line. Payback for his dad.

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  2. I've seen How the West Was Won more times than I can count and Peppard provides a lovely moment with his Jimmy Stewart impersonation of his character's father.

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  3. Johnny Carson liked having Peppard as a guest on "The Tonight Show," one reason being they were both big smokers. They once spent a segment talking about that, with Peppard describing how he favored lighting his cigarette with a match rather than a lighter because it added to its taste.

    Peppard's Caesar haircut in "Banacek" made the style popular for a while, and it became popular once again when George Clooney revived the do on "ER."

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  4. I had heard he was not nice. This confirms it.

    True story (part X) my PR firm in California was invited to do work for his Son (Greg?) when the Son bought a very out of date, failed software company called Software Publishing Corp. (SPC). So, I met the son. Interesting dude, with no, I repeat no tech background.

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  5. I've always thought he didn't have the movie career he should have had, very charismatic screen presence. I suspected there were some behind the scenes issues that held him back. You can see some of it in the A Team, he looks like he let himself go (he's no Paul Newman in the fitness department).

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  6. I was surprised to learn Peppard didn't get along with his female co-stars in Breakfast at Tiffany's. It just proves he had talent as an actor.

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