biography

Born Joseph Peter Breck on March 13, 1929, in Rochester, New York, actor Peter Breck's father was a jazz musician. As his father spent most of his time on the road, Breck lived with his grandparents in Massachusetts until his parents divorced in 1937. Upon the divorce, he went to live with his mother in New York after she remarried. Following high school, Breck served a stint in the Navy and, after his discharge, studied drama and literature at the University of Houston and began appearing in local theater productions. After graduation, Breck toured extensively with several theater troupes and was discovered by actor Robert Mitchum during a Washington, D.C. performance of Man of Destiny. Mitchum encouraged the young actor to give Hollywood a try and cast him in a small role in his independently produced thriller Thunder Road (1958; with Robert Mitchum and Gene Barry), shot in North Carolina. Breck also appeared in guest-star roles on television in the late 1950s in such series as Have Gun - Will Travel and Highway Patrol and secured a supporting role in the western film The Wild and the Innocent (1959; with Audie Murphy, Joanne Dru, and Gilbert Roland). Breck's career picked up steam with his first film starring role in the low-budget crime drama The Beatniks (1960; with Tony Travis) and with his first TV series, Black Saddle (1959-1960).

Peter Breck

Mid 1960s photo of Peter Breck

In 1960, he signed a contract with Warner Bros., appearing as a guest star in many of the studio's television series such as Sugarfoot, Maverick, and Hawaiian Eye and acting in the films Portrait of a Mobster (1961; with Vic Morrow and Leslie Parrish) and Lad: A Dog (1962; with Peggy McCay and Carroll O'Connor). With an already formidable selection of contract players, Warner Bros. dropped Breck's option in late 1962. Without a studio contract, he freelanced in several low-budget films, including Hootenanny Hoot (1963; with Ruta Lee and Joby Baker), The Crawling Hand (1963; with Kent Taylor and Allison Hayes), and Shock Corridor (1963; with James Best and Constance Towers). His career was set when he was cast in the ABC western The Big Valley (1965–1969; with Barbara Stanwyck, Linda Evans, Richard Long, and Lee Majors).

the films of peter breck

The Wild and the Innocent (1959)

Audie Murphy, Peter Breck, and Jim BackusJoanne Dru, Audie Murphy, and Peter Breck

LEFT: From the Universal-International western The Wild and the Innocent with Audie Murphy and Jim Backus. RIGHT: With Joanne Dru and Audie Murphy

Black Saddle (1959-1960 ABC TV Series)

Russell Johnson and Peter BreckPeter Breck, Aneta Corsaut, and John Lupton

LEFT: Breck starred alongside Russell Johnson in the 1959-1960 NBC/ABC series Black Saddle. RIGHT: With Aneta Corsaut and John Lupton in an episode titled Client: Peter Warren

The Beatniks (1960) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Peter BreckPeter Breck

Breck is a thug with a penchant for knives in the low-budget crime drama The Beatniks

Portrait of a Mobster (1961)

Leslie Parrish and Peter Breck

From the Warner Bros. crime drama Portrait of a Mobster with Leslie Parrish

Lad: A Dog (1962)

Peter Breck and Peggy McCay

With Peggy McCay in the Warner Bros. family drama Lad: A Dog

The Crawling Hand (1963)

Peter Breck and Kent Taylor

With B movie veteran Kent Taylor in the horror flick The Crawling Hand

Hootenanny Hoot (1963)

Peter Breck, Pamela Austin, and Joby Baker

From the campy MGM musical Hootenanny Hoot with Pamela Austin and Joby Baker

Shock Corridor (1963) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Peter BreckPeter Breck and James Best

LEFT: Breck stars as Johnny Barrett, a journalist who commits himself to an insane asylum in an attempt to solve a murder in the Allied Artists drama Shock Corridor. RIGHT: With James Best

Kraft Suspense Theatre (1963-1965 NBC TV Series)

Sally Kellerman, Gary Lockwood, and Peter Breck

With Sally Kellerman and Gary Lockwood in a July 1965 episode of Kraft Suspense Theatre titled Connery's Hands

The Big Valley (1965-1969 ABC TV Series) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Lee Majors, Linda Evans, Peter Breck, Richard Long, and Barbara StanwyckLinda Evans and Peter BreckPeter Breck and Lee Majors

LEFT: Cast photo from the ABC TV western The Big Valley with Lee Majors, Linda Evans, Richard Long, and Barbara Stanwyck. CENTER: A 1966 photo with Linda Evans. RIGHT: With Lee Majors

Benji (1974) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Peter Breck and Deborah Walley

With Deborah Walley in the low-budget family film Benji. Shot in Texas for $500,000, this film made nearly $40 million at the box office

Enemy Action (1999)

Ed O'Ross and Peter Breck

From the low-budget action flick Enemy Action with Ed O'Ross. This direct-to-video film was shot in ten days

later years

Following the end of The Big Valley, Breck's television and film career began to flounder. In the 1970s, he did quite a bit of stock company tours around the country and had a nightclub act with his wife, Diane. On occasion, he guest-starred on such TV programs as The Six Million Dollar Man, The Fall Guy, and Fantasy Island until 1985, when he left Hollywood and made Vancouver, British Columbia, his home. For ten years, he founded and ran an acting school in Vancouver called The Breck Academy. In the 1990s, he acted in a handful of low-budget films, often produced in Canada, such as Terminal City Ricochet (1990; with Jello Biafra), Highway 61 (1991; with Don McKellar), and Decoy (1995; with Peter Weller). In his final years, Breck suffered from dementia, which his wife revealed in 2010. He passed away in Vancouver on February 6, 2012, at the age of 82. He was survived by his wife, Diana. Their son, Christopher (born in 1965), died of leukemia in the late 1980s.

peter breck films available at movies unlimited

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TELEVISION
The Big Valley: Season One [DVD](1965) DVD
All 30 first-season episodes--including "Palms of Glory," "Forty Rifles," "Night of the Wolf," "The Invaders," "Under a Dark Star," and "Last Train to the Fair"--have been collected in a five-disc set. 25 1/2 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish. **30 episodes on 5 discs. 25 1/2 hrs.**

The Big Valley: Season Two, Vol. 1 [DVD](1966) DVD
The first 15 second-season episodes--including "Lost Treasure," the two-part "Legend of a General," "Target," "The Great Safe Robbery," and "Day of the Comet"--have been collected in a three-disc set. 12 3/4 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital mono, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English. **15 episodes on 3 discs. 12 3/4 hrs.**


FILM
The Beatniks [DVD](1959) DVD
Golden-throated "hep cat" gang member Tony Travis is discovered by a recording talent scout and tries to go legit. However, his hoodlum "friends," led by the crazed Peter Breck, resent his shot at fame and try to keep Travis down by getting the would-be singing star mixed up in murder. Paul Frees (the voice of Boris Badenov) directs this totally "flipsville" teen tale. 73 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 17 [DVD] DVD
A nerdy teen with a map to a lost city, some evil cultists, and a mullet-topped hero named "Zap Rowsdower" spell trouble for Mike and the Bots as they face "The Final Sacrifice" (1990), as does the seedy, soggy mad scientist swamp saga "Blood Waters of Dr. Z" (1975). This four-disc set also includes "The Crawling Hand" and "The Beatniks." 6 2/3 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; featurettes; interview; photo gallery; theatrical trailers; TV spots; more.

The Crawling Hand (1963)/The Slime People [DVD](1963) DVD
First, the severed hand of an astronaut killed on re-entry gains a life of its own and starts a reign of terror. Well, what did you expect from "The Crawling Hand"? This vintage chiller stars Kent Taylor, Alan Hale, and Peter Breck. Next, goopy, oozy creatures from Earth's distant past erect a shield of fog over Los Angeles (that's fog, not smog) as a prelude to their attempted conquest of the Earth, but a scrappy band of humans trapped inside fights to stay alive. The sci-fi slurper "The Slime People" stars Robert Hutton, Les Tremayne. 166 min. total. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English; audio interviews; theatrical trailers.

Shock Corridor (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray](1963)
Maverick filmmaker Samuel Fuller wrote and directed this unflinching drama that follows reporter Peter Breck into an asylum. Feigning insanity in order to learn the truth about an inmate's death, he soon falls into his own madness. Violent, emotional thriller also stars James Best, Hari Rhodes, Constance Towers. Restored version features special color scenes. 101 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English PCM mono; bonus footage; interviews; art gallery; theatrical trailer.

Shock Corridor (Criterion Collection) (Restored Edition) [DVD](1963) DVD
Maverick filmmaker Samuel Fuller wrote and directed this unflinching drama that follows reporter Peter Breck into an asylum. Feigning insanity in order to learn the truth about an inmate's death, he soon falls into his own madness. Violent, emotional thriller also stars James Best, Hari Rhodes, Constance Towers. Restored version features special color scenes. 101 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; bonus footage; interviews; art gallery; theatrical trailer.

The Glory Guys [DVD](1965) DVD
Scripted by Sam Peckinpah, this compelling western drama focuses on an ambitious Cavalry general (based, perhaps, on Custer?) who, dreaming of political success, leads his outnumbered troops into battle against Indians, and the rivalry between two men for a woman. Tom Tryon, Harve Presnell, Senta Berger, Andrew Duggan, and a young James Caan star. 112 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.

Benji [Blu-ray](1974)
America's most huggable hero makes his screen debut, as marvelous mutt Benji finds a family to call his own, fights kidnappers, and even finds true love. Deborah Walley, Edgar Buchanan, and Higgins as Benji star; Charlie Rich sings the theme song. 87 min. Soundtrack: English.

Benji [DVD](1974) DVD
America's most huggable hero makes his screen debut, as marvelous mutt Benji finds a family to call his own, fights kidnappers, and even finds true love. Deborah Walley, Edgar Buchanan, and Higgins as Benji star; Charlie Rich sings the theme song. 87 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo.

Benji: The Deluxe Collection [DVD] DVD
Two-disc set includes "Benji," "For the Love of Benji," and "Benji Off the Leash!," plus three episodes from the TV series "Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince."

Highway 61 [DVD](1991) DVD
A kooky comedic road movie about a Canadian barber who is joined by a female rock-'n'-roll roadie on a trip to deliver a coffin to New Orleans. The journey brings them face to face with a fascist customs agent and a man who claims to buy souls with his bingo winnings. Don McKellar (who also co-wrote), Valerie Buhagiar and ex-Dead Kennedy frontman Jello Biafra star in this middle installment of director/co-writer Bruce McDonald's thematically linked road trilogy that also includes "Roadkill" and "Hard Core Logo." 102 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital 5.1; audio commentary; bonus shorts; TV spots.

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filmography

FILM
Jiminy Glick in Lalawood (2004) with Martin Short, Jan Hooks, Janeane Garofalo, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Perkins, and Mo Collins
Enemy Action (1999) with C. Thomas Howell, Louis Mandylor, Lisa Thornhill, Randolph Mantooth, and Richard Lynch
Lulu (1996) with Clark Johnson
Decoy (1995) with Peter Weller, Robert Patrick, Charlotte Lewis, and Darlene Vogel
Sworn to Vengeance (1993) with Robert Conrad, William McNamara, Sharon Farrell, and Tom Atkins
The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1992) with Mark Kinsey Stephenson, John Rhys-Davies, Julie Strain, and David Warner
Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (1991) with Richard Thomas, Edward Asner, and Charles Bronson
I Still Dream of Jeannie (1991) with Barbara Eden, Christopher Bolton, Bill Daily, and Ken Kercheval
Highway 61 (1991) with Valerie Buhagiar and Don McKellar
Terminal City Ricochet (1990) with Germain Houde and Jello Biafra
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) with Lee Horsley, Simon MacCorkindale, George Maharis, Richard Lynch, Richard Moll, and Jeff Corey
Benji (1974) with Deborah Walley, Frances Bavier, Terry Carter, Edgar Buchanan, Tom Lester, and Christopher Connelly
A Man for Hanging (1973) with Paul Carr, Brooke Bundy, Walker Edmiston, and Michael Pataki
The Glory Guys (1965) with Tom Tryon, Harve Presnell, Senta Berger, James Caan, Andrew Duggan, Slim Pickens, Jeanne Cooper, and Wayne Rogers
Shock Corridor (1963) with Constance Towers, Gene Evans, and James Best
The Crawling Hand (1963) with Kent Taylor, Rod Lauren, Alan Hale Jr., Allison Hayes, Arline Judge, and Richard Arlen
Hootenanny Hoot (1963) with Ruta Lee, Joby Baker, and Pamela Austin
Lad: A Dog (1962) with Peggy McCay, Carroll O'Connor, Angela Cartwright, and Alice Pearce
Portrait of a Mobster (1961) with Vic Morrow, Leslie Parrish, and Ray Danton
The Beatniks (1960) with Tony Travis and Karen Kadler
The Wild and the Innocent (1959) with Audie Murphy, Joanne Dru, Gilbert Roland, Jim Backus, Sandra Dee, Strother Martin, and Edson Stroll
I Want to Live! (1958) with Susan Hayward, Simon Oakland, Theodore Bikel, Wesley Lau, and Raymond Bailey

TELEVISION SERIES
The Big Valley, 1965-1969 ABC TV Series. Breck portrayed Nick Barkley. Also starring in the series were Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Long, Linda Evans, and Lee Majors
Black Saddle, 1959–1960 NBC/ABC TV series. Breck portrayed Clay Culhane. Also starring in the series was Russell Johnson

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
John Doe, episode Past Imperfect, originally aired October 18, 2002
L.A. Heat, episode Captain Crimestopper, originally aired December 31, 1997
The Outer Limits, episode Mind Over Matter, originally aired February 2, 1996
The Fall Guy, episode King of the Stuntmen, originally aired October 3, 1985
The Fall Guy, episode San Francisco Caper, originally aired November 21, 1984
The Fall Guy, episode King of the Cowboys, originally aired February 29, 1984
Masquerade, episode Girls for Sale, originally aired December 29, 1983
Fantasy Island, episode The Angel's Triangle/Natchez Bound, originally aired November 6, 1982
The Fall Guy, episode The Human Torch, originally aired December 9, 1981
The Dukes of Hazzard, episode The Hack of Hazzard, originally aired April 3, 1981
The Incredible Hulk, episode The Lottery, originally aired February 15, 1980
Fantasy Island, episode Cowboy/Substitute Wife, originally aired January 20, 1979
Vega$, episode Second Stanza, originally aired December 6, 1978
The Six Million Dollar Man, episode To Catch the Eagle, originally aired March 6, 1977
S.W.A.T., episode Murder by Fire, originally aired December 6, 1975
McMillan & Wife, episode Downshift to Danger, originally aired September 29, 1974
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, episode Why Is a Crooked Letter, originally aired February 7, 1973
Mission: Impossible, episode Crack-Up, originally aired December 9, 1972
Alias Smith and Jones, episode The Great Shell Game, originally aired February 18, 1971
The Virginian, episode Hannah, originally aired December 30, 1970
Kraft Suspense Theatre, episode Connery's Hands, originally aired July 1, 1965
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Gambling Lady, originally aired April 8, 1965
Branded, episode The Mission: Parts 2 and 3, originally aired March 21 and 28, 1965
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Antic Angel, originally aired April 16, 1964
The Virginian, episode Rope of Lies, originally aired March 25, 1964
Bonanza, episode The Cheating Game, originally aired February 9, 1964
Mr. Novak, episode A Feeling for Friday, originally aired November 19, 1963
The Outer Limits, episode O.B.I.T., originally aired November 4, 1963
Gunsmoke, episode The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner, originally aired May 18, 1963
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Bluffing Blast, originally aired January 10, 1963
77 Sunset Strip, episode Wolf, Cried the Blonde, originally aired November 23, 1962
Cheyenne, episode Dark Decision, originally aired November 5, 1962
Cheyenne, episode Indian Gold, originally aired October 29, 1962
The Gallant Men, episode Retreat to Concorde, originally aired October 12, 1962
77 Sunset Strip, episode Nightmare, originally aired June 22, 1962
Lawman, episode Jailbreak, originally aired June 10, 1962
Surfside 6, episode Squeeze Play, originally aired May 14, 1962
Maverick, episode One of Our Trains Is Missing, originally aired April 22, 1962
Hawaiian Eye, episode Aloha, Cricket, originally aired April 18, 1962
Surfside 6, episode Portrait of Nicole, originally aired March 26, 1962
Maverick, episode Marshal Maverick, originally aired March 11, 1962
Maverick, episode The Maverick Report, originally aired March 4, 1962
Cheyenne, episode Legacy of the Lost, originally aired December 4, 1961
Maverick, episode A Technical Error, originally aired November 26, 1961
The Roaring 20's, episode Everybody Loves Benny, originally aired November 11, 1961
Lawman, episode Trapped, originally aired September 17, 1961
Hawaiian Eye, episode It Ain't Cricket, originally aired April 12, 1961
Maverick, episode Triple Indemnity, originally aired March 19, 1961
Bronco, episode Yankee Tornado, originally aired March 13, 1961
77 Sunset Strip, episode A Face in the Window, originally aired February 24, 1961
Surfside 6, episode Thieves Among Honor, originally aired January 30, 1961
The Roaring 20's, episode Big Town Blues, originally aired January 21, 1961
Hawaiian Eye, episode Baker's Half Dozen, originally aired December 28, 1960
Maverick, episode Destination Devil's Flat, originally aired December 25, 1960
Sugarfoot, episode Man from Medora, originally aired November 21, 1960
Sugarfoot, episode Shadow Catcher, originally aired September 26, 1960
Sea Hunt, episode Treasure Hunt, originally aired June 21, 1959
Zane Grey Theater, episode Day of the Killing, originally aired January 8, 1959
The Restless Gun, episode Take Me Home, originally aired December 1, 1958
Lawman, episode The Badge, originally aired November 23, 1958
Wagon Train, episode The Tobias Jones Story, originally aired October 22, 1958
Have Gun - Will Travel, episode The Protégé, originally aired October 18, 1958
77 Sunset Strip, episode Lovely Lady, Pity Me, originally aired October 17, 1958
Highway Patrol, episode Hostage, originally aired October 13, 1958
Gunsmoke, episode The Patsy, originally aired September 20, 1958
Tombstone Territory, episode The Lady Gambler, originally aired May 28, 1958
The Court of Last Resort, episode The Mary Morales Case, originally aired March 21, 1958
Zane Grey Theater, episode The Doctor Keeps a Promise, originally aired March 21, 1958
Have Gun - Will Travel, episode The Teacher, originally aired March 15, 1958
Zane Grey Theater, episode Sundown at Bitter Creek, originally aired February 14, 1958
The Gray Ghost, episode The Deserter, originally aired January 1, 1957
Sheriff of Cochise, episode The Turkey Farmers, originally aired September 21, 1956

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