George Peppard, Jr. (October 1, 1928 – May 8, 1994) an American film and television actor and producer. who was probably best known 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.
George secured a major role when he starred alongside Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), portrayed a character based on Howard Hughes in The Carpetbaggers (1964), and played the title role of the millionaire sleuth Thomas Banacek in the early-1970s NBC television series Banacek.
The son of a building contractor and an opera singer. His mother's name was Vernelle Peppard, she died in 1964. His father, George Peppard, Sr. died in 1951. The untimely death of his father was the reason for George, Jr. to start drinking. George was an alcoholic for almost 30 years.
After serving in the Marine Corps from 1946-48, where he acheived the rank of Corporal. Peppard tried a number of jobs including mechanic, taxi driver and disc jockey before enrolling in Purdue University. After receiving a degree in Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon, Peppard attended the prestigious Actor's Studio in NYC and began hoofing it in theater. Several lean years later, Peppard began to get substantial roles, including episodic television dramas like "Kraft Theater" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." Although generally associated with tough-guy parts (like his role in "Pork Chop Hill") Peppard became a Hollywood favorite after the international hit "Breakfast At Tiffany's."
Several other classic films followed, like "The Carpetbaggers," "The Blue Max" and "How The West Was Won." After a succession of action movies, Peppard returned to television in the series "Banacek" though he left after a year when his friend, the producer, opted out. More action films followed, as well as an offer to play Blake Carrington in the prime-time soap "Dynasty." When that didn't work out, Peppard found himself on "The A-Team," which was much more suited to his gruff persona. Post "Team" work found Peppard in a series of action roles through 1992.
George had completed a pilot for a new series in 1994 called The P.I., a Matlock spin-off intended to become a new television series, with co-star Tracy Nelson shortly before his death. Peppard died on May 8, 1994, in Los Angeles, California|Los Angeles, California. Although still being treated for lung cancer, Peppard's direct cause of death was pneumonia. He is buried alongside his parents George Sr and Vernelle in Northview Cemetery, Dearborn, Michigan.
A life time smoker, in 1994, shortly before his death, and two years after he married his fifth wife Laura Taylor, George had a tumor removed from his left lung. Just three days before his death, on May 5, 1994, he went to the hospital with serious breathing problems and quickly developed pneumonia.
Notable TV guest appearances
- "Matlock" (1986) playing "Max Morgan" in episode: "P.i., The"
- "CHiPs" (1977) playing "Himself"(uncredited) in episode: "Great 5k Star Race and Boulder Wrap Party (Part 2), The"
- "CHiPs" (1977) playing "Himself" in episode: "Roller Disco: Part 2"
- "Hallmark Hall of Fame" (1952) in episode: "Little Moon of Alban"
- "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (1955) playing "Evan Wallace" in episode: "Diplomatic Corpse, The" 12/8/1957
- "Alcoa Hour, The" (1955) in episode: "Big Build-Up, The" (episode # 2.14)