Young Mary Badham, who played the six year old “Scout,” also kept in touch with Peck for the rest of his life. She felt close to him immediately on the set, and between takes would be seen hanging onto him in his lap. She called him “Atticus” ever after.
A wide search for children to play Scout and her brother Jem was conducted in various southern cities, but the actors selected, Badham and Philip Alford as Jem, lived within a couple of blocks of each other in Birmingham, though they’d never met.
Mary Badham was herself a “tomboy,” as was her character, and the girl that Scout was based on—Harper Lee. She acted for several more years, and was in one more notable movie (This Property is Condemned, based on a Tennessee Williams play, written by Francis Ford Copolla and starring Robert Redford and Natalie Wood.) She gave up acting by the late 60s but returned to it in recent years. While Harper Lee has long been reclusive, refusing most appearances, it was often Mary Badham who represents this movie when it is honored and shown at festivals.
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