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MP3 peter breck - just "Kickin Back"

Country easy listening by Peter Breck, who starred as TV''s Nick Barkley on The Big Valley. Also seen in many major films, theater and TV. Listen to "Crazy Joe", a favorite song of Steven Speilberg and Tom Hanks, Peter''s good buddies.

9 MP3 Songs
COUNTRY: Traditional Country, COUNTRY: Western

Hi Folks!

Welcome to my website. Years ago when I first started out on this quest of becoming an actor , I never thought I would see the day when I would be inviting you - my fans – to join me on a trip back to when all this started via “THE WEB”!

I arrived on this here “sphere” on March 13 , 1929 in Rochester, New York. My mother was Doris Goings Breck and my father was Joseph {Jobie} Breck. Dad was a jazz musician who played with all the greats of that era including Fats Waller, Bix Biederbeck , Paul Whiteman , Billie Holiday.

I lived with my grandparents in Haverhill , Mass. in my earlier years because Mom & Dad were on the road a lot. They all thought that I would be better off staying at home with my grandparents & my Aunt Polly , rather than moving about from city to city – hotel to hotel. (They never asked me because I would have loved it.)

My parents divorced and both remarried. Dad married a wonderful lady – Mary Breck. That marriage gave me a brother , Georgie. We became very close when I was doing “Black Saddle” but , sadly , he passed when he was only 24 due to complicated heart problems from a previous operation. My mother married Al Weber , who was the sports editor of the Rochester – Times Union and I went to live with them. I have two sisters from this marriage – Judith and Virginia (Judy and Ginnie) My nickname was Buddy. Upon leaving John Marshall High School , Buddy went into the navy and became a first class petty officer –{baker – yep! I baked bread and fried pies} My naval duties took place on the USS Franklin Delano Roosevelt {FDR} – aircraft carrier. Going back to my years at John Marshall for a minute – I made lifelong friends there. We still , to this day , all keep in touch and get together. Mind you , it is more than some 50 years ago that we first met. Friendships like these are invaluable. I treasure them deeply.

After my discharge from the navy , I returned to Rochester. My buddies and I used to hang out at Billy Schu’s bar , where we solved a lot of earth shattering problems – or so we thought. It was decided that we would all go to college and it was also decided what college. The University of Houston in Texas was the winner. Now what college wouldn’t be a winner with this group? It was a great decision because we had a wonderful time there. Everybody went off and studied whatever their interest was . I settled for English and Drama . This was the start of my acting career. My first theatre was the Attic Theatre which was part and parcel of the drama department – University of Houston. Enter Nina Vance –The Alley Theatre – a glorious start to what became a very strong foundation for my career. Nina saw me in a production of “Bury the Dead” at the University and suggested that I come by and talk to her in regards to working at the Alley. This is when the Alley was a converted electric fan store { in Houston , you needed them } Again , I fell right in line with some nice people as well as talented. We did many projects – I performed in all of them. Nina was a task master --- YOU LEARNED!!! I can’t thank her enough for all that she gave me..

I also started to sing at different clubs around Houston , when I had free time. My club act was nothing to brag about but I needed the experience and experience is what I got. Thanks to a buddy , Hy Bice , who is a sax player and knew of clubs where I could work at night.

All of sudden , Nina got word from Zelda Feichandler of the Washington Arena Stage that Zelda was interested in seeing me when I saw it possible. We had just completed “Stalag 17” at the Alley . Nina said “I’ll kick your butt if you don’t go there. We’ll miss you but it’s a good move.” I still had a commitment to work with Eugene Van Grona of the Four Arts Theatre in Houston so I went ahead and worked with that group on “This is Eliria Lady” or “Twelfth Night” --- Shakespeare……. Commitments filled!

Off I go to Washington,D.C. The Washington Arena Stage was known for it’s productions of the classics and semi-classics , which I wanted to get into a little deeper.

A great turning point in my career took place at this theatre. I was doing G.B. Shaw’s “Man of Destiny” playing the role of Napoleon’s adjutant – a very stiff , spit and polished young lieutenant. Brooks Atkinson , who was the dean of all theatre critics at that time {see reviews ) and Robert Mitchum came to see the play on the same night. They both came backstage. Mr. Atkinson advised me to “make my move” and Mitchum said to me “Do you wanna make a movie?” I made my move and made the movie “Thunder Road”. It was filmed in North Carolina. From there , I was off to L.A. where Mitchum put me up with everything I needed , including a Jaguar roadster to use until I could get my own car.

My first film in L.A. was “The Beatniks” , which came out of nowhere . A low----very low budget film. This was followed by a major film “I want to live” starring Susan Hayward who was a wonderful actress and very helpful to me. It was my first occasion to meet a very exciting director – Mr. Robert Wise - who along with “I want to live” is responsible for other fine films such as “West Side Story” , “The Apartment” , etc.

After doing several more films , Bob Mitchum decided some introductions were in order. He took me to Four Star Studios where I met Dick Powell , who was the head of Four Star ,Inc. For your information the Four Stars were Ida Lupino , David Niven , Charles Boyer and Mr. Powell. ------- Good Company , eh? {and that’s Canadian} Mr. Powell , after seeing my performances on other T.V. shows , offered me the lead in a new series “Lawgun”. It went on the air as “Black Saddle” --- my role being Clay Culhane. The other two stars were Anna-Lisa and Russell Johnson – two wonderful people to work with.

I might mention that at this point in time , I met a dancer – Diane Bourne – who became my wife in 1960 and she still is ---- come June , 2006 it will have been 47 years. In 1962 , our son Christopher came to us. He was the joy of our lives.

When “Black Saddle” came to an end , there was a Warner Bros. contract waiting in the wings. Here I go --- I am about to find out what life is like as a contract player at a major studio . I guest-starred on every one of their series more than once - I always guest-starred {click on filmography} I also did the films “Lad – a Dog” and “Portrait of a Mobster” while there.

After leaving Warner Bros., I was offered a film “Shock Corridor” which was directed , written and associate produced by Samuel Fuller. It went to Cannes and won Best Picture. Over the years , it has developed somewhat of a cult following.

I next did the play “A Thousand Clowns”. I was told on opening night that there were three producers in the audience looking for a certain character in their forthcoming T.V. series. It was a lead and would be going to work within a couple of weeks. All worked out fine for me . I got the role of “Nick Barkley” -- the name of the series was “Big Valley” . The head of the clan was Barbara Stanwyck. Always work with a strong lady and I have been doing just that ----- Remember Susan Hayward? -- also a pretty strong lady. The whole cast consisted of exciting and strong people. How about “Six Million Dollar Man”? --- Lee Majors. Disney’s new find ---- Linda Evans. Richard Long , who wound up being my buddy – the oldest brother. I was the second oldest brother , younger than Dick Long. The youngest brother in the family was Charles Briles – his character went to college at the end of the first season and was never heard from again ---- thanks to the writing of the producer / writers. Charles is , and was , a very talented young man and I was shocked.

Richard is no longer with us nor is Barbara.

What a great ride that show was – wonderful people to work with , good writers & directors , exciting guest stars and scripts that were worth doing. For more fun reading click on Big Valley.

In the 70’s , I returned to my first love – acting and directing in theatre. I appeared all over the United States and Canada in many plays such as “The Rainmaker” , “Mr. Roberts” , “Accommodations” {one of my favorite comedies to do} , “A Thousand Clowns” , etc. Click on theatre and reviews.

In the mid-eighties , I moved to Vancouver with my wife and son. The film industry was in its infancy in Vancouver at that point. I was asked by a casting director if I would consider teaching one class a week , so that the young actors could learn something about film technique. One class rapidly grew into a full time acting academy – The Breck Academy , which I ran for ten years. It was a great joy to observe and watch young actors grow into performers (and good ones).

At this point in time , Diane and I faced the worst tragedy of our life. Our son , Christopher , was diagnosed with leukemia – the worst form – Acute Myeloid. He fought the disease for two years with courage , dignity and a big smile. He fought a good fight but it wasn’t to be. Fate stepped in and took him. He had tremendous support from family , friends and many students at the Academy . Two friends , in particular , were as devoted to him as we were. They being his “Paisan” – Brano & Vinnie. We all miss you Chris.

We are now kicking back a little bit more in life. I write a column for Wildest Westerns magazine , which I thoroughly enjoy (click on "Wildest Westerns" ,"Televisions Toughest Cowboy", "Cut ''em off at the Pass!", "Cut ''em off at the Pass!" No. 2, "Westerns, Learn to Like Them or Else". And speaking of kicking back ----- I just happen to have a C.D. of the same name “Just kickin’ back with Peter Breck”. It is all original tunes and it can be purchased through this site shortly (click on C.D.).

I still enjoy doing film and television work. I try to do several projects a year. In 2006 , I hope to be doing more personal appearances where I can get out and meet more of my fans. I am grateful to all of them for their loyalty.


The Big Valley!!! The Barkley’s !!! Nick!!!

What fun I had with Nick.

I am grateful for all the many fans he brought into my life. The cast of Big Valley went right into the mix while it was boiling with Westerns all around us. The ground work had been laid by some pretty good representatives of the cowboy way of life. Working in Westerns , I think has been belittled for too long by too many. Pre Big Valley , I worked in Shakespeare , Shaw , Ibsen , Moliere ,Agatha Christie , Neil Simon , Herb Gardner (Thousand Clowns) , Richard Nash (Rainmaker) . When I went into westerns , which is way back , all of a sudden I was cognizant that these were also classics about men who didn’t sit on the back of wagons eating beans and cleaning their six-shooters – waiting to cut someone off at the pass. It wasn’t that way at all. Lets get it straight folks ----- they tried to live and survive just like anybody else would.

The real westerner had a code – it was a code of the west. You didn’t ask a man his name , what he did for a living , where he was from or any of the amenities that we do sometimes brazenly inquire of our fellow man today. Prying into some persons private life , you just didn’t do it.

The real westerner was a quiet man. Minding his own business , he headed west looking for a piece of land that he could be comfortable on with the hopes that he could have a partner -- a lady with whom he could raise a family. He was a good man , a strong man and a religious man – usually. His ethics and personal life, he wanted to keep private.

Big Valley gave me the opportunity of participating in the search of what these men and women were like. Seriously , can you imagine what it must have been to make all these things come to fruition? We tried in Big Valley to show several different cases or segments that would be focused on one or all of these things. I’d say we did a pretty good job.

Barbara Stanwyck was certainly an advocate of this lifestyle. You will recall, as I do , that she did “The Cattle Queen” and many more westerns in her earlier career. She loved horses. She knew how to ride without making a big deal out of it and was at home on the set with all of the western paraphernalia around her. She was a classy lady and never forgot that she was representing the women of the west and their struggles. I was totally captured by Barbara’s work in every scene that I had with her and I learned.

Everybody asks how did a guy from Boston and New York learn to ride. Well I never had a lesson. I stepped on a horse and sat in him. As Ben Johnson would say--- That’s the secret of riding --- you never sit on a horse --- you sit in him. That way you get the feeling of tandem. You are working with the horse and he is working with you. You’ve become one with each other. Ben Johnson said “Peter ---- there are three cowboys that can sit a horse in this town of Hollywood and only three ----- you’re one , Glenn Ford is two and me” Needless to say , I was impressed with that.

The rest of the Barkley clan starts out with Jarrod , played by Richard Long. He was the lawyer son of the family and a real class act. Lee Majors , who we all remember as “The 6 Million Dollar Man” and “ The Fall Guy” was Heath. The pretty one in the family was Linda Evans. You can’t do better than that. We all had a marvelous time with good scripts , good directors and I must include the excellent crew. We had one of the best.

Boy – I really had fun with Nick Barkley. You see , Nick could do almost anything or at least he thought he could. Anyway , he’d try it – whatever it was – and you had the feeling he was having a lot of fun with whatever he was trying to do. He was quite a dimensional person. You could tell that in the thin line between his temper and his caring for whoever or whatever. I thank the producers for thinking of me for the role and you folks. To quote you “Nick can do it!! Where’s Nick? He’ll save it!!”. Well he usually did try and he did save it. That’s why I like heroes who are open , aboveboard and dead-on right or , at least they think they are. We should hold on to that kind of philosophy especially now when it is challenged.

Thank you for watching ! We can’t do without you.

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