George Peppard

October 1, 1928 – May 8, 1994

American pop culture in the 1980’s was chock-full of iconic catchphrases.

“Where’s the beef?”
“I pity the fool!”
“Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
“I love it when a plan comes together.”

The latter is attributed to the character Col. John “Hannibal” Smith from the hit NBC action series, The A-Team. Hannibal, the snarky, cigar-chomping leader of the titular renegade commando unit, was played genially by veteran of the stage and screen, George Peppard.

30 years earlier, Peppard got his start in acting after realizing that he didn’t want to be an engineer during college. He transferred to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he planned to start his career in regional theatre. From there, it was on to New York and the Actors Studio where he studied under legendary acting teacher, Lee Strasberg. Peppard spent much of the 1950’s in New York appearing in plays both on and off-Broadway and on television variety shows that were ubiquitous at the time. He found his way into a few movie roles and worked with loads of up-and-coming peers, but struggled to break through.

That all changed when Peppard was cast opposite Audrey Hepburn in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The film’s success made George a star. But, even stardom isn’t permanent and Peppard spent much of the rest of the 1960’s and ’70s bouncing around in forgettable films and television projects. But, he worked. He stuck to the plan. In 1980, he took on the role of Blake Carrington on the new ABC nighttime soap opera, Dynasty. Having gained something of a reputation of being difficult to work with, he lasted 3 weeks on the set before he was fired.

Less than 2 years later, George landed the other big hit of his career with The A-Team. The show was a huge success and ran for 5 seasons. He was suddenly popular with a whole new generation of fans.

Despite his cantankerous on-set personality, his sometimes chaotic personal life (he was married 5 times) and his somewhat premature death at the age of 65, Peppard cobbled together a career that spanned more than 4 decades and touched fans of multiple generations. Not bad for a kid from Detroit who came up with a plan to become an actor. And, as the saying goes…

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Burial

Northview Cemetery – Dearborn, MI

Specific Location

Enter the cemetery and follow the one-way road to the right. About halfway along there’s a single tree on the right side of the road. George and his parents’ plot is just behind this tree.

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