August 24, 2005

Brock Peters, “To Kill a Mockingbird” actor, dies

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Brock Peters, the deep-voiced
American actor who portrayed a black man wrongly accused of
rape in the classic film "To Kill a Mockingbird," has died at

Peters died at his Los Angeles area home on Tuesday after a
battle with pancreatic cancer, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He was diagnosed with the disease in January and had been
undergoing chemotherapy.

"He was a fine and powerful singer and actor," Miles
Kreuger, president of the Los Angeles-based Institute of the
American Musical, told the Times. "But more than that, he was a
majestic human being."

Although the versatile Peters began acting on Broadway as a
teenager and worked in show business for six decades, he was
best known as Tom Robinson in "Mockingbird," a black man
accused of raping a white girl who is defended by Gregory
Peck's idealistic lawyer, Atticus Finch, in Depression-era

The 1962 film earned two Academy Awards, including a
best-actor Oscar for Peck. Peters was not nominated for his
role but later won lifetime achievement awards from the Screen
Actors Guild and the National Film Society.

Peters was born George Fisher in New York's Harlem
neighborhood in 1927 and decided to be an actor at a young age.
His distinctive resonant voice landed him early jobs -- he sang
backup on Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat" -- and would serve
him well throughout his long career.

Peters' film debut came in the 1954 musical "Carmen Jones,"
which starred Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge.

In later years Fisher lent his voice to a number of film
and television roles, including "The Wild Thornberrys Movie"
and "Star Trek: Starfleet Command III."