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Date of Birth : Oct 1st 1928

He secured a major role early in his career when he starred alongside Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), and he played the title role of the millionaire sleuth Thomas Banacek in the early-1970s television series Banacek, but he is probably best known to younger audiences for his role as Col. John “Hannibal” Smith, the cigar-chomping leader of a renegade commando squad, in the 1980s television show The A-Team.

Peppard made his stage debut in 1949 at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. After moving to New York, Peppard enrolled in The Actors Studio, where he studied the Method with Lee Strasberg. His first work on Broadway led to his first television appearance, with a young Paul Newman, in The United States Steel Hour (1956). Peppard’s Broadway appearance in The Pleasure of His Company (1958) led to an MGM contract. Prior to a strong film debut in The Strange One (1957), he was discovered playing the illegitimate son of Robert Mitchum’s character in the popular melodrama Home from the Hill (1960).

His good looks, elegant manner and superior acting skills landed Peppard his most famous film role as Paul Varjak in Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn. This role boosted him briefly to a major film star. His leading roles in that film’s wake included How the West Was Won in 1962, The Carpetbaggers in 1964 and The Blue Max in 1966.

Peppard developed a tendency to choose tough guy roles in big, ambitious pictures where he was somewhat overshadowed by ensemble casts; for example, his role as German pilot Bruno Stachel, an obsessively competitive officer from humble beginnings who challenges the Prussian aristocracy during World War I in The Blue Max (1966). For this role, Peppard learned to fly, earned a private pilot’s license and did much of his own stunt flying, although stunt pilot Derek Pigott was at the controls for the famous under-the-bridge scene.


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