Brock Peters, 78, the actor best remembered for his touching portrayal of a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman in the Academy Award-winning film "To Kill a Mockingbird," died Aug. 23 at his home in Los Angeles. He had pancreatic cancer.
The actor, known for his rich bass voice, began his 60-year career when he was a teenager, appearing on Broadway in a 1943 revival of the musical "Porgy and Bess." He moved easily between live theater, motion pictures and television.
Mr. Peters unquestionably achieved his greatest fame with the indelible 1962 "Mockingbird" film, a racial morality play about a black man defended by a white lawyer, Atticus Finch, portrayed by Gregory Peck in an Oscar-winning performance.
As the dignified Tom Robinson, Mr. Peters moved audiences with his courtroom testimony. When Peck's lawyer character asks whether he had committed rape, Mr. Peters's Robinson says strongly but with tears in his eyes, "I did not, sir!"
The two actors formed a lifelong friendship while making the movie. Mr. Peters said Peck, who died in 2003, phoned him before filming began to welcome him to the production, and he was so surprised he dropped the phone. He said no fellow actor had done that before or since.
Mr. Peters had a special following among "Star Trek" fans for his turns as Admiral Cartwright in the motion pictures "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (1986) and in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991). He also appeared on television as Joseph Sisko in many episodes of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
Among Mr. Peters's other films were Otto Preminger's "Porgy and Bess" (1959) -- in which he had a star turn as the villain Crown -- "The Pawnbroker" (1964), "Soylent Green" (1973) and "Ghosts of Mississippi" (1996).
Television appearances included the ABC miniseries "Roots: The Next Generations" (1979), the Public Broadcasting Service special "Voices of Our People" (1982), for which he received an Emmy Award, and Hallmark Hall of Fame's "The Locket" (2002), as well as episodes of such series as "Gunsmoke," "Magnum, P.I." and "Murder, She Wrote."
The actor found great success as a South African minister in the stage and film versions of the musical "Lost in the Stars" in the early 1970s. His Broadway performance earned him a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony nomination.
Born George Fisher on July 2, 1927, in New York, Mr. Peters attended the Music and Arts High School in New York and later studied at the University of Chicago and City College of New York. Years later, he became a co-founder of the Dance Theater of Harlem.
In the late 1940s, he toured as a bass soloist with the De Paur Infantry Chorus. His remarkably commanding voice would, over the years, earn him roles on such animated shows as "Johnny Bravo," as a backup singer on Harry Belafonte recordings and as Darth Vader on radio versions of "Star Wars."
Mr. Peters received the NAACP Image Award and in 1976 was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.
His wife, Dolores "DiDi" Daniels, whom he married in 1961, died in 1989.
Survivors include his companion, Marilyn Darby, and a daughter from his marriage.