(CNN) — “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.”
One of the greatest lines in Harper Lee‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” as well as the film adaptation of the same name, was spoken by the Rev. Sykes as attorney Atticus Finch exited the fictional Maycomb, Alabama, courtroom.
Black spectators, relegated to the courthouse balcony, stood in solidarity with the courageous white lawyer who had defended Tom Robinson, an African-American man wrongly accused of rape in the 1930s Deep South. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, Atticus’ young daughter, watching from the so-called colored balcony, was prodded by the reverend to do the same.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” is the story of single dad Atticus Finch and his family, as told from the standpoint of Scout. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the film phenomenon.
The title comes from the scene in which Atticus explains how when his father gave him a rifle as a boy, he told him that he could shoot blue jays, but it was a sin to kill a mockingbird because mockingbirds “don’t do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat people’s gardens, don’t nest in the corncribs, they don’t do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us.”
The movie was released earlier this week as a special DVD/Blu-ray combo pack in honor of the 50th anniversary, and one of the extras is the film’s trailer, in which actor Gregory Peck says, “The world never seems as fresh and wonderful, as comforting and terrifying, as good and evil as it does when seen through the eyes of a child.”
Atticus Finch is one of the greatest fictional dads of all time, and in honor of the film’s half-century mark, both his daughters spoke to CNN. That is, Peck’s real life daughter, Cecilia Peck, and the actress who played Scout, Mary Badham.
By all accounts, Peck, who won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus, embodied his character’s values on and off screen.
“He was an Atticus,” Cecilia Peck said. “He really was that kind of father to me and my brothers. I believe that he was always very much like Atticus but I think that doing the film when we were very young made him become even more that way and I think as much as he put of himself into the role, Atticus became him, too.”
ham, who called Gregory Peck “Atticus,” said her onscreen father “was such a great daddy. He was such a great role model and he was so much like my own father. When my own father died two years after I got married, Atticus stepped up. It was wonderful. I’d pick up the phone and he’d be on the other end, ‘Whatcha doin’, kiddo?’ ‘How’re ya doin?’ I’d visit with his family, which I still do. It was a great relationship.”
Badham also said actor Brock Peters, who played Tom Robinson in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” served as a father figure as well.
“I kid people and say I had reverse Oreo daddies because I had my daddy and Gregory Peck and Brock Peters,” said Badham.
Brock Peters and Gregory Peck remained close friends. When Peck died in 2003 at age 87, it was Peters who delivered the eulogy.
Cecilia Peck noted that her father was “so much like his characters in his films. I am so fortunate that he was just that kind of person. He had great integrity, he had great dignity, and he was a true humanitarian.”
- ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Marks 50th (thedailybeast.com)
- ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ 50th Anniversary: Mary Badham On Being Scout, Gregory Peck And Losing The Academy Award (news.moviefone.com)
- Listening to the Mockingbird (hope4thecity.wordpress.com)
- Ms. Lee didn’t throw it out the window (jenniferwilke.com)
- To Kill A Mockingbird Is More Than Just A Novel ~ It’s A Timeless And Exciting Journey (abrooklynrose.wordpress.com)