Handsome and elegant George Peppard occasionally displayed considerable talent through his career, but was too often cast in undemanding action roles. Following Broadway and television experience, he made a strong film debut in The Strange One (1957). He started getting noticed when he played Robert Mitchum’s illegitimate son in the popular melodrama Home from the Hill (1960). He then established himself as a leading man, giving arguably his most memorable film performance as Audrey Hepburn’s love interest in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). Seen by the studios as a promising young star, Peppard was subsequently cast in some of the major blockbusters of the early/mid-1960s: How the West Was Won (1962), The Victors (1963), The Carpetbaggers (1964) and Operation Crossbow (1965). He reached the peak of his popularity in another such lavish production, The Blue Max (1966), in which he effectively played an obsessively competitive German flying officer during World War I.
However, by the late 1960s, he seemed to settle as a tough lead in more average, often hokum, adventures, including House of Cards (1968), Cannon for Cordoba (1970) and The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972). In the early 1970s, his declining popularity was temporarily boosted thanks to the television series Banacek (1972). With his film roles becoming increasingly uninteresting, he acted in, directed and produced the drama Five Days from Home (1978), but the result was rather disappointing. In the mid-1980s, he again obtained success on television as Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, the cigar-chomping leader of The A-Team (1983). George Peppard died at age 65 of pneumonia on May 8, 1994 in Los Angeles, California. He is buried alongside his parents in Northview Cemetery in Dearborn, Michigan.
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