In 1969, on this day the actor Eldred Gregory Peck was appointed United States Ambassador (Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary) to Ireland.
Great AdventureNeedless to say the appointment of a lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party would have been unthinkable had the Republicans won the recent Presidential election. The GOP nominee, Richard Nixon had actually placed him on his enemies list due to his liberal activism. This was primarily due to his opposition to Hollywood blacklisting; in 1947 he signed a letter which deplored a House Un-American Activities Committee investigation of alleged communists in the film industry.
An intensely private man, Peck had only accepted the "great adventure" because of his Irish ancestry. That flowery description of the new role was his own phrase, but surely the timing of his arrival in Ireland on the eve of the sectarian violence surrounding the "Battle of the Bogside was precipitous.
Peck had not sought political office. He had politely, but firmly declined, offers to run against Ronald Reagan for State Senate in 1964, and later the Governship of California in 1968. After the elections, Democrat supporters (including the defeated incumbent Governor Edmund Brown) were convinced that his charisma, and celebrity status, could have defeated his fellow actor.
A political confrontation between the two actors finally occurred in 1987 when Peck did the voice over on television commercials opposing Reagan's Supreme Court nomination of conservative jurist Robert Bork. Bork's nomination was defeated to the disgust of many, including another actor Charlton Heston who registered his protest by formally joining the Republican Party.