Gregory Peck's widow Veronique, an arts supporter, dies at 80

Veronique Peck (L), widow of actor Gregory Peck, and her daughter, actress and filmmaker Cecilia Peck, pose at a screening celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Academy Award winning film "To Kill A Mockingbird" at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills, California, in this file April 11, 2012 photo. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veronique Peck, the widow of screen legend Gregory Peck, has died at age 80 of heart failure at her home in Los Angeles, a spokesman for her family said on Saturday.

She passed away on Friday, said her representative Monroe Friedman.

Born in Paris as Veronique Passani, she became a reporter for the daily newspaper France Soir and met Peck in 1953 when she interviewed him for a story. They were married on December 31, 1955, the day after Peck’s divorce from his first wife, Greta Kukkonen, was finalized.

Veronique Peck, who became a U.S. citizen in 1976, worked on a number of philanthropic causes, including working to establish the Los Angeles Music Center and an interracial theater group, Inner City Cultural Center.

When her husband died in 2003 at age 87, she took over producing the Gregory Peck Reading Series, a star-laden program that has featured the likes of Quincy Jones and Sharon Stone and raises funds for the Los Angeles Public Library.

The French film writer Henry-Jean Servat, who knew Veronique Peck, on Saturday broke the news of her death with a post on his Twitter page.

She is survived by her two children, the writer and producer Anthony Peck and documentary filmmaker Cecilia Peck Voll, and by her brother and three grandchildren.

Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for his role as the heroic Southern lawyer Atticus Finch in the 1962 film “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was one of the most admired actors in Hollywood history. His other best known films are “Gentleman’s Agreement,” “The Guns of Navarone” and “Spellbound.”

(This story corrects date of the couple’s marriage to 1955, instead of 1953, in paragraph three)

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jackie Frank