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Classic Television Memories: In Memoriam Peter Breck (Nick Barkley)
Peter Breck 1929-2012
Classic Television has lost one of its own tthis past Monday. Peter Breck, who played Nick Barkley, the hot-headed middle son of Victoria Barkley (Miss Barbara Stanwyck) on ABC TV's long running western series, The Big Valley. Mr. Breck died in Vancouver British Columbia at the age of 82.
The Big Valley series which aired from 1965-1969, featured the wealthy Barkley clan, headed by matriarch Victoria (Stanwyck), also included Richard Long (Jerod, the eldest), Lee Majors (Heath), and baby sister Audra (Linda Evans). Mr. Breck (Nick) was the middle son who would rather solve problems with his gun or fists, instead of reason.
Mr. Breck was born on March 13, 1929 in Rochester, N.Y. He was raised by his grandparents in Massachusettes because his father, a jazz musician was constantly on the road,and couldn't provide the stability of a home life his son needed.
Mr. Breck's foray into acting came shortly after serving in the Navy. After appearing in theatre productions in Houston TX, he was discovered by veteran actor Robert Mitchum, offering him a part in the 1958 film "Thunder Road."
Mr. Breck made his television debut in 1956. He starred in the short-lived western series "Black Saddle" in 1959, and had a recurring role as Doc Holliday on the "Maverick" sreies (1957-1963).
In 1965, he was cast as Nick Barkley in The Big Valley.
After the series ended, Mr. Breck appeared in many films, but concentrated his efforts once again to theatre. He founded an acting school in Vancouver. His final film appearance was in the 2004 Martin Short comedy, "Jiminy Glick in Lalawwod."
Mr. Breck is survived by Diana, his wife of 52 years,