Peter Breck, the hot-headed middle son of Barbara Stanwyck in the 1960s Western “The Big Valley,” died Feb. 6 after a long illness in Vancouver, Canada. He was 82.
After his Navy discharge, Breck studied English and drama at the U. of Houston. His first film role was 1958’s “Thunder Road,” starring Robert Mitchum, who saw Breck on stage in “Man of Destiny” and asked him if he wanted to be in a movie. He moved on to the Rita Hayworth starrer “I Want to Live” in 1958 and “The Beatniks” in 1960.
But it was television that gave Breck his biggest success. He starred as a gunfighter-turned-lawyer on ABC’s Western “Black Saddle” from 1959-60 and was a regular on “Maverick,” playing Doc Holliday. He guested on series from the 1950s through the early 2000s, including “Perry Mason,” “The Virginian” and “Fantasy Island.”
From 1965 to 1969, he starred as Nick Barkley on “The Big Valley,” along with Stanwyck, Lee Majors, Richard Long and Linda Evans as members of the 19th century ranching family.
Joseph Peter Breck was born March 13, 1929, in Rochester, N.Y. His father, Joseph (Jobie) Breck, was a jazz muscian who played with Fats Waller and Billie Holliday. With his parents on the road, Breck grew up with his grandparents in Haverhill, Mass.
He was preceded in death by his son Christoper, who died of leukemia. He is survived by his widow, Diane.