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Yolanda Martinez impressed Gregory Peck

For The Madera Tribune

Gregory Peck.


Until Todd Lile told me that the actor Gregory Peck had once visited Madera High School to give a talk, I never knew he had ever been in Madera. The speaking event took place in April of 1964. 

After Todd shared this information with me, I went to work researching the Tribune archives and found 264 newspaper articles on Peck. He had a cattle ranch somewhere between Merced and Madera, and Will Gill Jr. helped him make his Herefords ready for market. In fact, they became friends and often met each other for dinner at Lee’s Restaurant in Madera.

Of all the articles I read about Gregory Peck and Madera, it was one dated Oct. 19, 1964, six months after his talk at Madera High, that interested me the most. The famous actor was giving a speech in San Mateo and recounted the outstanding Madera student audience to whom he had spoken. Chief among those he praised was senior Yolanda Martinez, who introduced him to the audience, and this brings me to the point of this tale. Who was Yolanda Martinez? What Madera student was such a class act that she made such an impression on a movie star like Gregory Peck?


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