C.J.: Gregory Peck's death hits home for some Minnesotan

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 17, 2003 - 11:00 PM

To Twin Cities writer and PR woman Nancy Stesin, the death of Gregory Peck "was like the death of my own father because he was a father figure. You didn't even have to know him." Stesin, however, knew Peck when she lived with his son, Jonathan Peck, back in her 20s. Nancy and Jonathan's romance ended and evolved into an even better friendship. When Jonathan committed suicide at age 30, Nancy got a typed noted from Gregory Peck, to which he added a handwritten P.S. "I'm sorry. I know this must have been very painful for you too. Love, G." Stesin's memories of this most painful chapter in the acting legend's life were recounted for a biography coming out in August. Guilford, Conn., author Lynn Haney has been working on the biography, "A Charmed Life," for 3 1/2 years. "So this is not an instant book that started because he died," Haney told me Monday. "I knew Greg from when I worked for the National Endowment for the Arts when it was starting up. He was always just great to me. Being of Irish descent, we had the same humor. I wanted to make [the book] witty, but at the same time, you know, he's considered inscrutable. He's up there on Mount Rushmore. And I knew there was this witty, whimsical side to him, and so I combined that with a lot of detective work. This is not in any way one of these tawdry, tell-all books. The publisher tells me it is delightfully entertaining, and that's what I was aiming for." This is Haney's 10th book. Some of them have been bios, such as "Naked at the Feast: The Biography of Josephine Baker," but she's also penned sports books. "Biographies are such monumental work; it's fun to do these others," she said. She tracked down many people associated with Peck but would love to hear from others at lynnhaneytr@yahoo.com.Although the book is called "A Charmed Life," Stesin tells me Gregory Peck's life was not all that charmed. "I think the suicide of his son was certainly the tragedy of his life," said Haney. "He kept going, but he had a hole in his heart after that. One comment I have gotten in interviewing people is that they always mention the exquisite manners of his children. They are not spoiled stars' kids." Peck had five children from two marriages, including Tony Peck, who once was married to Cheryl Tiegs. Their son Zachary is among Peck's six grandchildren. Deepest condolences.

-- C.J. is at 612-332-TIPS or at cj@startribune.com, where she never opens attachments. So don't even try.

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