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Jewish World Review June 13, 2003 / 13 Sivan, 5763

Phil Perrier

Phil Perrier
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Consumer Reports

Brinkley and Peck: When class meant something | David Brinkley and Gregory Peck gone on the same day. It seemed sadly fitting in a way. They shared something; something you cannot quite put your finger on; something beyond words yet unmistakable. They shared truth. When they spoke we believed them, trusted them.

And there was something much deeper, an instinctive feeling that they possessed an inherent decency.

Despite vast popularity (a 1965 consumer survey revealed that David Brinkley and partner Chet Huntley were more recognized that John Wayne and the Beatles) David Brinkley handled fame with dignity and grace almost unimaginable in today's fiercely competitive media. Ever the consummate Southern gentleman, Brinkley delivered the news with solomonic authority but the candor of a trusted friend talking over a backyard fence.

To find a man exuding the courtly charm and grace of David Brinkley one would turn to fiction and the stalwart character of Atticus Finch in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird." It was the role of a lifetime for Gregory Peck; and it won him an Oscar. Atticus, a small town lawyer, widowed with two children, defending a black man against a fraudulent rape charge in the Jim Crow South.

Peck later said that he put everything he had into the role; all that he had learned as a parent and all his beliefs about justice and racial equality. In fact, he felt so strongly about these issues that he produced an anti-Vietnam war film.

By all accounts Gregory Peck and David Brinkley were good to the people around them. They lived lives of quiet dignity.

Gregory Peck died in the arms of his wife of 48 years, Veronique.

Peck and Brinkley were men of a different time, a time when shameless self-promotion was disdained. When asked about his phenominal success in television, David Brinkley said "I didn't create anything, I just got there early."

Goodnight David.

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JWR contributor Phil Perrier is a Los Angeles-based writer and stand-up comic. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2003, Phil Perrier