The Big Valley: Peter Breck Dies at 82

Peter Breck  on Big Valley The actor best known for playing hot-headed Nick Barkley on The Big Valley TV series has died.

Peter Breck was 82 years old and died on Monday, February 6th. He passed away after a long illness in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he and his wife Diane were longtime residents. According to his widow, Breck had been in the hospital since January 10th.

Born in Rochester, NY, Breck served in the US Navy and studied drama at the University of Houston. He appeared in several film and stage productions during his career, but worked mostly on the small screen.

He had recurring roles on Maverick and Black Saddle and guest-starred on dozens of others, like 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Fantasy Island.

Breck took great pride in his work on The Big Valley and was with the show for all of its four seasons, starring alongside Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Long, Lee Majors, and Linda Evans.

Of his time on the show, Breck wrote, “What a great ride that show was – wonderful people to work with, good writers & directors, exciting guest stars and scripts that were worth doing.”

What do you think? Did you enjoy Breck’s work? What are some of your favorite memories?

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33 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Carolyn says

    It is with great sorrow to learn of the death of Peter Breck (Nick Barkley) while
    watching an episode of The Big Valley. I am a fan of the series from the
    60’s. I admired the character he played and the individual he was.
    Sincerest condolences from a sincere fan.

  2. Lisa says

    Peter Breck was a true talent and enjoyed by so many
    He will be forever remembered by his character the tough cowboy, a true cowboy on the Big Valley.
    Rest in peace

  3. says

    Enjoyed Peter’s great acting. He truly was talented. I will think of both Peter
    and Diane when I watch Big Valley every day. Thank you for your friendship.
    I appreciated all the messages I received from them. He was a great person
    who will be remembered as one of the best “cowboys” of all times!

  4. tina says

    I’m very sad that he’s know longer with us. He did a wonderful job on the big Valley. He alway’s made me laught when I would watch it. He was also on the Dukes of Hazzard and played a bad guy. you will be missed. R.I.P Peter.

  5. says

    I have been a big fan of Peter Brecks since I watched him on big valley back in the sixties! He was always my favorite cowboy. The world has lost another fine actor and man!

  6. Pat Vedenoff says

    Do any of you know if Peter owned a Corvette in the mid 60s. During “The Big Valley” days? My Dad worked on ‘vettes in our garage. I think Peter was at my house.

    • Robin Anderson Casteel says

      Hey Pat, this is your old friend Robin from Hawthorne. I remember your dad working on famous people’s cars at your house (didn’t he fix Steve McQueen’s car from Bullitt?) Sorry, but I don’t remember if Peter was at your house — but I wouldn’t doubt it!

  7. Pamela says

    Peter Breck was a very strong, versatile actor. He was very memorable in The Big Valley. He also seemed to be a fine human being in real life. He will be missed.

  8. says

    Peter Breck was in my opinion the backbone of the Big Valley. He truly was the right guy for the part of his caracter “Nick Barkley”. He really was a great actor, witty, colorful, and quite talented. He deserves to be credited for his recognition over the years. God bless you Peter, and all the wonderful memories you brought to so many of us in America over all thoses good years. I hope to meet you in my second life. Goodbye for now. Charles.

  9. Elyse says

    Ah, sigh, another familiar face is gone :( RIP, Peter. You and the rest of the Big Valley gang gave me hours of great entertainment.

  10. kim says

    so sad to hear i haven to season of the big valley my favorate show my heart goes out to the family from edmonton — canada

  11. J. Naughter says

    Peter Breck was a better than average actor and the role of Nick Barley could not have been played better by any other actor. “The Big Valley” was a very under-rated television show, as time has shown. Rest in peace Mr. Breck!

  12. Gay Goucher says

    I’m so sorry to hear about your lose. I watch Big Valley everyday on the Inspiration channel and enjoy seeing Nick show off his temper to the bad guys. The world really has lost another great talent.

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