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Veronique Peck, wife of Gregory Peck, dies

LOS ANGELES -- French-born Veronique Peck, the wife of actor Gregory Peck and an ardent supporter of civic and cultural causes in her adopted country, died Friday of heart failure at her home here, her family said. She was 80.

As a young journalist, Veronique met Gregory Peck in 1953 when she interviewed him for a French newspaper. They were married on New Year's Eve 1955, after his divorce from his first wife was finalized.

"I just participate in everything Greg does. I like it that way. I am not a career woman," Veronique told the Los Angeles Times in 1967 when it named her Woman of the Year.

Beneath her "I'm just a housewife exterior," the article pointed out, was a dedicated professional and effective fundraiser. In the late 1960s, she helped her husband raise $50 million for the American Cancer Society.

During the same era, she also raised $50,000 to benefit a favorite cause, the Inner City Repertory theater, a South Los Angeles center that introduced teens to the arts for at least a decade beginning in 1966.

More recently, she persuaded Harper Lee, the reclusive author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," to accept the Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award in 2005.

When he died at 87 in 2003, Veronique took over producing the Gregory Peck Reading Series, a program that features celebrities reading from literature to raise funds for the Los Angeles Public Library.

She is survived by her children, writer-producer Anthony Peck and documentary filmmaker Cecilia Peck Voll; a brother, Dr. Cornelius Passani; and three grandchildren.

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