Monday, May 14, 2007

Gregory Peck in the Social Security Death Index and his SS-5 Form

In 2003 when I first heard that Gregory Peck had died, my reaction was, oh no, we've lost Atticus Finch. Harper Lee may have created the Atticus Finch character in her beloved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, but Gregory Peck made him real in the equally beloved film version. It seemed as though he wasn't playing a role at all, but putting his own sincerity and feelings about racial inequality onto the screen. So when he died it wasn't that we had lost a great and popular actor. It felt like we had lost America's kind and noble grandfather. He was one of those rare Hollywood celebrities who you seemed to know and respect even if you had never met him.

Here is Gregory Peck's listing in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI):

Birth: 05 Apr 1916
Death: 12 Jun 2003 (V)
Last Residence: 90077 (Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA)
Last Benefit: (none specified)
Social Security Number: 547-16-9811
Issued: California

Using the information from an SSDI listing, a copy of the person's SS-5 form can be obtained from the Social Security Administration for a fee. The SS-5 is the form a person filled out when they applied for a Social Security Card. Here's a copy of Gregory Peck's SS-5 (click on it to see a larger view).

Gregory Peck - Social Security SS-5 formAs you can see it gives all sorts of information about the person that can be useful for further genealogy research. The SS-5 for Gregory Peck shows his full name (Eldred Gregory Peck), his date and place of birth (April 5, 1916 in San Diego, California), and the full names of his parents (Gregory Pearl Peck and Bernice Mae Ayres). Note that the maiden name of his mother is given. (There are restrictions regarding the release of the parents' names -- see the link below.) This SS-5 also shows the name and location of his employer, and his address in San Diego when he applied for his Social Security Card in 1937, which is about 6 years before he made his first film.

While putting this article together I asked my mother what her favorite Gregory Peck movies were. Here is her list: Keys of the Kingdom (1944, his second film), Duel in the Sun (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Twelve O'Clock High (1949), Roman Holiday (1953, with the great Audrey Hepburn, who became a lifelong friend), and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). During his film career he received five best actor Academy Award nominations, and won the Oscar just once. That was for To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it's fitting that he will likely be remembered for the role of Atticus Finch. Gregory Peck may have died in 2003, but thanks to him and Harper Lee, Atticus Finch will live on in the film and novel.

Helpful Links
Social Security Death Index - Online Searching

How to order a copy of the Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) of a deceased person Note the restrictions given there regarding proof of death and the release of parents' names.


Miriam Robbins said...

Gregory Peck was one of my favorite actors and To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite all-time book and movie. I must have read that book a dozen times as a kid...long before I was required to read it in high school English class!

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