Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Brock Peters 1927-2005

Actor Brock Peters died yesterday at the age of 78. He had been fighting pancreatic cancer since January. Peters is perhaps best known for his role in the classic film To Kill a Mockingbird, in which he played the man falsely accused of rape.

Peters was born in New York City on July 2, 1927 as George Fisher. He attended the Music and Arts School in New York before attending the Ciry College of New York as a physical education major. Peters received a role in the classic musical Porgy and Bess in 1943. In 1949 he left college to go on tour with that show. By 1954 Peters made his screen debut in the film adaptation of Carmen Jones.

Peters played a number of memorable roles on film. Besides To Kill a Mockingbird, he also appeared in The L-Shaped Room, Porgy and Bess, The Pawnbroker, and Soylent Green. In the series of Star Trek movies he appeared twice as Admiral Cartwright.

On televison Peters made several guest appearances throughout the years. He appeared on the TV shows Daniel Boone, Mission Impossible, Night Gallery, Gunsmoke, and The Pretender, among others. On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine he had a recurring role as Commander Sisko's father, Joseph Sikso. He also did a good deal of voice work on cartoons, including work on Galtar and the Golden Lance, Gravedale High, and Samurai Jack. He was also the voice of Darth Vader in the radio series based on Star Wars Episode IV: a New Hope.

On stage Peters appeared in Kwamina and King of the Dark Chamber". He received a Tony nomination for his role in Lost in the Stars.

Peters was one of the most talented actors of his generation, playing a wide variety of roles. He was capable of bringing a great amount of emotion to the parts he played. This can be seen in his most famous role, that of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. Robinson is not simply a cardboard cutout created for Gregory Peck's character, Attcus Finch, to defend, but a three dimensional characters with his own concerns, his own feelings, and his own motivations. Appearing as recently as in the 2002 telefilm The Locket, I find it sad that Peters has passed on. He was a talented actor who could have continued acting for many more years.

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