A Glimpse at 'Banacek's George Peppard's Final Years

George Peppard had a long career, but never quite managed to make it as a Hollywood bigwig. His final years showed his attempt to remain relevant in the industry, as well as trying to become a better version of himself.

Beginning from the year 1972 to '74, George Peppard had a role as a Polish-American detective on the NBC show, "Banacek." The role became what sealed the actor's popularity, and helped him find pleasure in being on the small screen.

George Pappard poses for a portrait in 1982 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

George Pappard poses for a portrait in 1982 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

Years after, the NBC show, in '92, Peppard got diagnosed with Lung cancer, which was a result of the years he spent smoking two packs of cigarettes per day. The cancer was successfully removed and this helped the "Doctor" star find the courage and the will to quit smoking. 

The effort was not enough, as two years after, in '94, the actor died at the UCLA Medical Center, after experiencing breathing problems and contracting pneumonia. He was 64.

In the years leading to his death, Peppard starred in various movies and theatre productions. In 1990, he starred as a World War II secret agent with Britain in the film, "Night of the Fox."

George Peppard wearing a black jumper as he poses against a rusted surface | Photo: Getty Images

George Peppard wearing a black jumper as he poses against a rusted surface | Photo: Getty Images

That same year, he went to London to star in a two-hand play, "Love Letters," and in '92, he had a role in the production of "The Lion in Winter," alongside Susan Clark.

The TV actor also got married to his fifth wife, Laura, in '92. The two met at a homeless shelter where they volunteered and got married in September of that year. She was at his bedside before he died.

Born in 1928 in Detroit, Peppard attended the famous Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, before proceeding to the Actors Studio in New York. He made his acting debut in '57 with "The Strange One," but didn't get recognition until he starred alongside Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

George Peppard posing for a portrait | Image: Getty Images

George Peppard posing for a portrait | Image: Getty Images

The actor disregarded TV roles for a long time, choosing instead to focus on the big screen. He later signed on for more small-screen parts when his difficult personality hindered his big break.

For years, Peppard got cast in demeaning roles, and things remained that way until he starred as the tough cigar-smoking "Hannibal Smith" in the '80s series, "The A-Team."

In a 1990 interview, he said regarding the success of the role:

"It was the first time I ever had money in the bank. It was a giant boost to my career and made me a viable actor for other roles."

George Peppard posing for a publicity portrait | Photo: Getty Images

George Peppard posing for a publicity portrait | Photo: Getty Images

Peppard also tried his hand in writing, producing, and directing with the movie, "Never Quite Big" in '79. Like the title, the film didn't do very well, but it got a few critical praises.

Although the "Carpetbaggers" star was not taken seriously for most of his career, he got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 George Peppard during the filming of the TV movie "Night of the Fox" | Photo: Getty Images

George Peppard during the filming of the TV movie "Night of the Fox" | Photo: Getty Images

Peppard rests beside his parents at the Northview Cemetery in Dearborn. At his death, his three children, Brad, Julie, and Christian survived him, and in a press statement released at the time, they described him as a consummate actor, loving husband, and father.

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