Dr Dabbs – LT Stephen Peck: Nature versus Nurture

Gregory Peck won a Best Actor Oscar in 1962 for To Kill a Mockingbird. Like most Hollywood folk, he was a committed Leftist.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Oscar-winner Gregory Peck was one of the most popular movie stars ever. His filmography includes epics like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Guns of Navarone, Twelve O’clock High, and Roman Holiday. He died in 2003 at age 87.

Like most movie stars, Peck was a left-wing Democrat. It’s tough to comprehend why that particular job seems to attract Leftists so, but it does. He considered running against Ronald Reagan for the governorship of California in 1970 but demurred. President Lyndon Johnson stated that had he won re-election in 1968 he intended to offer Peck the position of Ambassador to Ireland. Peck, for his part, later admitted that he likely would have taken the job. 

Despite starring in several violent movies, Gregory Peck was a rabid gun control advocate. He championed an international moratorium on nuclear weapons as well. These lofty ideals are laudable on the surface, I suppose, but utterly unenforceable. Giving up your guns as an individual or your nukes as a superpower is a great way to get your butt kicked on scales both small and large.

Ethan Peck, Gregory Peck’s grandson, makes a crackerjack Mr. Spock.

Now We Get Into Stephen Peck

Gregory Peck was married to Greta Kukkonen from 1942 until 1955. In 1955 he married Veronique Passani. He ultimately fathered five children. His sole daughter Cecilia is a producer, director, and actress. His grandson Ethan is an actor of some renown himself. While Ethan has played many roles on both the large and small screens, one of his most compelling was as Spock on Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Ethan Peck’s dad is Stephen, Gregory Peck’s son by his first wife. Strange New Worlds is a great show, by the way.

Nepotism specific to Hollywood has a name. They call the successful offspring of successful movie personalities Nepo Babies. The presupposition is that acting is likely not really all that hard, and that having a recognizable name or face is a great way to break into the business. Examples include Jamie Lee Curtis, Nicholas Cage, Lilly-Rose Depp, George Clooney, Scott Caan, Hailey Bieber, Robert Downey Jr, Scott Eastwood, and Liv Tyler. Each of these stars is descended from show business royalty. As they say, the nut usually doesn’t fall far from the tree. And then there was Stephen Peck.

The Philosophy of Plenty

One of the interesting reasons we enjoy such social turmoil these days is that, for the first time in human history, we’re no longer consumed with just not starving to death. In generations past folks were too preoccupied with securing food, clothing, and shelter to fret overly about preferred pronouns and the nuances of social justice. If you’re raised in opulence surrounded by flaming Leftists one might be forgiven for growing up to become a privileged flaming Leftist yourself. However, sometimes the Real World offers a hard lesson in reality.


Stephen Peck is second from the left on the second row up from the bottom.

Stephen Peck came of age in the mid-1960’s. When Stephen’s draft number came up his rich, famous, politically-connected dad could have almost assuredly gotten him out of his obligation. However, to his credit, Stephen bucked up and enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He first donned the uniform at age 22.

This picture was taken the day Stephen Peck was commissioned as an officer in the US Marine Corps.


The younger Peck enjoyed some proper leadership capabilities, and he was soon commissioned as a Lieutenant with orders for Vietnam. The elder Peck was a vociferous opponent of US military involvement in Southeast Asia. However, with the realization that his son was going to war, Gregory stood behind both him and the troops with whom he served. 

Many Hollywood types could not differentiate between government policy and the instruments of that policy. It is our Constitutionally-protected right to petition the government for redress. If you don’t like whatever it is the government is doing, then by all means become active in the process and change it. However, don’t take your frustrations out on the lowly grunts who do the fighting and the dying. I can tell you from personal experience, Uncle Sam doesn’t care about your politics. He just expects you to go where you’re told and do what you’re trained to do. Geopolitical niceties matter little to a soldier who is wondering if he will live to see another sunrise. 

Jane Fonda has since said she regrets having had this picture taken. So I guess that makes us buddies now…

It would have been nice to have had Jane Fonda figure that out before she crawled up onto that North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun. It would have been almost as nice to have had her apologize for such rank stupidity once she matured enough to do so. However, that was a bridge too far for her.

She did express “regret” for allowing herself to be photographed manning the antiaircraft gun. However, she spoke proudly of her Radio Hanoi broadcasts, her support of a Communist victory, and her attacks on American servicemen as war criminals. As apologies go, that seems tepid at best. Personally, I wasn’t much moved by it. By contrast, Stephen Peck actually did the deed. He trekked overseas and saw the elephant for himself.

Stephen Peck Goes to War

Stephen Peck humped the boonies in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. This is him out doing his thing in Indian Country. The experience changed him forever.

Stephen is quick to point out that he didn’t volunteer. He was drafted, but he served with honor. He fought with the 1st Marine Division around Da Nang from 1969 into 1970. Like many combat vets, he had a tough time switching that off after he got home. His time in combat had a curious effect on his worldview.

Upon his return, Stephen launched himself into the only world he had ever really known. In 1972 he enrolled in a grad school cinema program with the intent of becoming a documentary filmmaker. He made a decent living in the film industry up until 1990 when he helmed a documentary film on the unique culture among homeless veterans living on the beach in Venice, California.

In Stephen Peck’s line of work, announcing that you were a veteran was not a career booster.

A Change In Perspective

Prior to that time, Peck had kept the details of his military service to himself. Literally nothing triggers a sense of admiration in me like learning that a new acquaintance served our country in uniform. However, in the sorts of circles in which Peck moved, telling folks that he had gone downrange for Uncle Sam was not the best ice breaker. Here is what he had to say on the subject, “I didn’t tell a lot of people I served in Vietnam because in those years you didn’t do that. Around that time those feelings about the war and Vietnam came back to me and I began to think about my experience and talking with other veterans, and produced a film about the combat experience.” 

Meeting those homeless vets changed him. Among these hopeless souls he imagined his brothers with whom he had served in the Marines. He later said, “I was making documentary films so I was an observer on the problem but I wasn’t an active participant in solving the problem.” His felt so strongly about the subject that in his mid-forties he quit his job and enrolled at the University of Southern California to earn a degree in social work. His mission now became supporting and encouraging at-risk veterans.

Stephen Peck threw his effort behind US Vets, a non-profit dedicated to battling homelessness among American military veterans.

And a Change In Priorities

Today Stephen Peck is CEO of US Vets, an energetic non-profit dedicated to serving homeless veterans. From their website–nearly 38,000 military veterans are homeless in the US today. That’s roughly 9% of the country’s homeless population. US Vets supports roughly 20,000 of those homeless vets each year. They have provided 393,093 bed nights for eligible veterans and have successfully placed 1,236 previously homeless vets in jobs. US Vets has secured 3,061 permanent housing solutions and served 440,141 meals. They have also provided some 57,782 counseling sessions to help homeless veterans get back on their feet.

READ MORE: Alton W. Knappenberger: So, A Bunch of Germans Walk Into a BAR…

US Vets has eleven different hubs supporting veterans around the country. They always begin with shelter. Once a veteran has a safe place to call home he or she can begin down the road to economic self-sufficiency. Along the way, US Vets offers services in support of mental health and wellness as well as job training and workforce development. 

US Vets is whittling away at the problem of homelessness among military veterans in America.

Solving the homeless problem among American military veterans is a Gordian task. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by its scope. However, Stephen Peck and US Vets attempt to solve this thorny cultural challenge one veteran at a time. It’s indeed a gargantuan problem, but these guys are steadily chipping away at it.

Ruminations On Stephen Peck

Stephen Peck is Hollywood royalty. Had he chosen to do so, he could have coasted on his famous dad’s trust fund and lived out a life of comfort and leisure someplace. However, unlike so many among the Leftist elites, Stephen Peck actually went to war. Along the way, he saw firsthand how Americans from all walks can come together for a common objective and make some powerfully enduring relationships along the way.

You can’t swing a dead cat in Hollywood without hitting some vapid idiot who is more than willing to shoot a brief public service announcement instructing everyone else in what they need to do to solve society’s many manifest ills. Once that PSA is a wrap they climb into their private jets and blast off back to wherever it is they spend their money. 

Here we see Gregory, Stephen, and Ethan in the early 1990’s. Stephen’s time in uniform took him down a different path.

By contrast, Stephen Peck was sufficiently burdened by what he saw among homeless veterans that he quit his job, went back to school, and devoted the rest of his professional life to making a real difference. Despite the apparent disparity in their political leanings, I suspect his Old Man would be proud.

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  • Karl L Young April 30, 2024, 8:53 am

    I will not watch anything that Jane Fonda takes part in. My hat is off to Stephen Peck, a man’s man and a great citizen. May the Lord smile down on him.

  • Viet Vet April 29, 2024, 2:25 pm

    I remember when I was in Vietnam when Hanoi Jane pulled that traitor act. The anger that was widely felt would have somehow caused her demise if she would have showed up in country. Lucky for her she did not.

  • jerry April 29, 2024, 10:50 am

    Loved the article. I admire all vets. You know, Hollywood used to be jam-packed with WWII heroes. What a contrast today! At least some of the elite are resurrecting the memory of our war heroes with recent productions. I watch ’em all! I just scored a DVD of “Masters of the Air”. Stay safe.

  • Jerry April 29, 2024, 9:55 am

    Leftys and acting; pfui. Too many are rather immature, as are their arguments (and tantrums, and tirades, and accusations); its the fairytale world these play-actors make for themselves and can even make money at, that reinforces their barney-world/sesame street/disney “reality”; if you believe hard enough, it will be. Wish upon a star. If you believe somebody is wrong, then by jiminycricket, they are wrong.!
    Verry old joke; “is there a doctor in the house?” “No, but i play one on tv!”
    And i say again; pfui!.

  • Steven Reed April 29, 2024, 9:24 am

    A different ilk from the usual Dr. Dabbs stories but still very good and informative. Keep up the great work doctor.

  • Reltney McFee April 29, 2024, 9:15 am

    What man would not be proud of his son being a Man?

  • James April 29, 2024, 8:43 am

    Thanks Doc, I have a theory about why so many leftist democrats are movie stars.

    They are so miserable that the only way they can survive is pretending to be other people. The really good pretenders learn how to turn that into a career.

    Thanks for sharing another well written article, I actually got a little misty eyed reading and thinking about it.

  • Tip Tover April 29, 2024, 8:22 am

    Great read… Thanks Will. I think I will arrange a monthly donation for suce a fine organization. Goes to show when you say “all those people” or “everyone ” that you might just miss something important.

  • Bob W April 29, 2024, 7:37 am

    Wow what a guy. Sounds exactly like Donald Trump. He was a war hero who takes care of veterans too. That’s why we all love him so much.

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