George C. Scott
George Campbell Scott (October 18, 1927 – September 22, 1999) was an American stage and film actor, director and producer. He was best known for his stage work, as well as his portrayal of General George S. Patton in the film Patton, as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Ebenezer Scrooge in Clive Donner's 1984 film A Christmas Carol and Lieutenant Bill Kinderman in William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III.
George C. Scott
Scott in The Hustler in 1961
George Campbell Scott
October 18, 1927
Wise, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||September 22, 1999 71) (aged|
|Alma mater||University of Missouri (B.A., 1953)|
(m. 1951; div. 1955)
(m. 1955; div. 1960)
(m. 1960; div. 1965)
(m. 1967; div. 1972)
Trish Van Devere (m. 1972)
|Children||7, including Devon and Campbell Scott|
|Years of service||1945–1949|
He was the first actor to refuse the Academy Award for Best Actor (for Patton in 1970), having warned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences months in advance that he would do so on philosophical grounds if he won. Scott believed that every dramatic performance was unique and could not be compared to others.
George Campbell Scott was born on October 18, 1927, in Wise, Virginia, the son of Helena Agnes (née Slemp; 1904–1935) and George Dewey Scott (1902–1988). His mother died just before his eighth birthday, and he was raised by his father, an executive at Buick.
Scott's original ambition was to be a writer like his favorite author, F. Scott Fitzgerald; while attending Redford High School in Detroit, he wrote many short stories, none of which were published. As an adult, he tried on many occasions to write a novel, but never completed one to his satisfaction.
After high school, Scott enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving from 1945 to 1949. He was assigned to 8th and I Barracks in Washington, DC, and his primary duty was serving as honor guard at military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. He later said that during his duty at Arlington "[I] pick[ed] up a solid drinking habit that stayed with me from then on."
Following military service, Scott enrolled in the University of Missouri, where he majored in journalism and then became interested in drama. His first public appearance on stage was as the barrister in a university production of Terence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy, directed by H. Donovan Rhynsburger. During rehearsals for that show, he made his first stage appearance—in a student production of Noël Coward's Hands Across the Sea, directed by Jerry V. Tobias.
Broadway and film career
In 1958, he won an Obie Award for his performances in Children of Darkness (in which he made the first of many appearances opposite his future wife, actress Colleen Dewhurst), for As You Like It (1958), and for playing the title character in William Shakespeare's Richard III (1957–58) (a performance one critic said was the "angriest" Richard III of all time).
Scott's Broadway debut was in Comes a Day (1958) which had a short run.
Scott's television debut was in a 1958 adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities for the Dupont Show of the Month directed by Robert Mulligan. He also appeared in a televised version of The Outcasts of Poker Flat (1958) plus episodes of Kraft Theatre, and Omnibus.
Anatomy of a Murder and The Andersonville Trial
Scott earned his first Academy Award nomination for his performance in Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder (1959); later that year he appeared on Broadway in The Andersonville Trial by Saul Levitt directed by Jose Ferrer, winning critical acclaim for his portrayal of the prosecutor. This was based on the military trial of the commandant of the infamous Civil War prison camp in Andersonville, Georgia. It ran for 179 performances from December 1959 to June 1960.
His performance earned him a mention in Time.
Scott also received good reviews for The Wall (1960–61) which ran for 167 performances.
Scott received superb notices for his performance in The Hustler (1961).
He returned to Broadway to direct General Seeger (1962) by Ira Levin but it only lasted two performances. Great Day in the Morning (1962), where he was directed by José Quintero, also had a very short run.
Scott was in much demand for guest shots on TV shows, appearing in episodes of Ben Casey, Golden Showcase (doing The Picture of Dorian Gray), and Naked City. In 1962 Scott appeared as school teacher Arthur Lilly on NBC's The Virginian, in the episode "The Brazen Bell", in which he recites Oscar Wilde's poem "The Ballad of Reading Gaol". That same year, he appeared in NBC's medical drama The Eleventh Hour, in the episode "I Don't Belong in a White-Painted House".
He performed in The Merchant of Venice (1962) off Broadway.
Scott's first leading role in a feature was The List of Adrian Messenger (1963).
In 1963, Scott starred in the hour-long television drama series East Side/West Side. He portrayed a New York City social worker, along with co-stars Cicely Tyson and Elizabeth Wilson. Scott was a major creative influence on the show, resulting in conflicts with James T. Aubrey, the head of CBS. The Emmy Award-winning program had a series of prominent guest stars, including James Earl Jones. The portrayal of challenging urban issues made attracting advertisers difficult, not helped by the limited distribution. Not all CBS network affiliates broadcast the show, and it was canceled after one season.
Scott had a success off Broadway in Desire Under the Elms (1963).
Scott's most famous early role was in the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, in which he played General "Buck" Turgidson. In later interviews with Stanley Kubrick, Scott was revealed to have initially refused to camp it up on camera. As a compromise, Kubrick had Scott go over the top in rehearsal, assuring Scott that the cameras were off, which was untrue. Kubrick proceeded to use this version in the final cut, which Scott supposedly resented.
Scott was one of many stars in The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964).
In 1965, he was cast, under the direction of John Huston, as Abraham with, among others, co-star Ava Gardner cast as Sarah in the Dino de Laurentiis film: The Bible: In the Beginning which was released by 20th Century Fox in 1966. In 1966, Scott appeared as Jud Barker in the NBC western The Road West, starring Barry Sullivan, Kathryn Hays, Andrew Prine, and Glenn Corbett. He also guest starred in Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre.
Scott returned to Broadway to direct Dr. Cook's Garden (1967) by Ira Levin but quit during tryouts. As an actor he appeared in a revival of The Little Foxes (1967–68) directed by Mike Nichols, which ran for 100 performances.
Scott had a big Broadway hit with Neil Simon's Plaza Suite (1968). The show was composed of three separate one-act plays all using the same set, with Scott portraying a different lead character in each act; it ran for 1,097 performances. Nichols directed.
He also did a TV movie Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall (1969).
Scott portrayed George S. Patton in the 1970 film Patton and researched extensively for the role, studying films of the general and talking to those who knew him. Scott refused the Oscar nomination for Patton, just as he had done for his 1962 nomination for The Hustler, but won the award anyway.
In a letter to the Motion Picture Academy, he stated that he did not feel himself to be in competition with other actors. However, regarding this second rejection of the Academy Award, Scott famously said elsewhere, "The whole thing is a goddamn meat parade. I don't want any part of it."
The Best Picture Oscar for Patton was given to the George C. Marshall Foundation Library at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, the same institution that generations of Pattons attended, by producer Frank McCarthy a few weeks after the awards ceremony, and is on display there. Scott did not turn down the New York Film Critics Award (of which his then wife Colleen Dewhurst said, "George thinks this is the only film award worth having").
Scott did some TV movies: Jane Eyre (1970) and The Price (1971). For the latter he was nominated for, and won, an Emmy Award for his role, which he accepted. He also directed, but did not appear in, a TV version of The Andersonville Trial (1970).
Scott then focused on movies for a while. He did They Might Be Giants (1971) with Joanne Woodward, and The Last Run (1971) for director Richard Fleischer, with his wife Colleen Dewhurst and also with Trish Van Devere, who would become his next wife.
He directed Rage (1972), starring himself but it was a flop. So too was Oklahoma Crude (1973) directed by Stanley Kramer; and The Day of the Dolphin (1973) directed by Mike Nichols, in which Scott appeared with his wife Trish Van Devere.
Return to theatre
Scott directed a production of All God's Chillun Got Wings (1975) which starred Van Devere and only had a short run.
He did Beauty and the Beast (1976) for TV with Van Devere.
He had a cameo in Crossed Swords (1977) directed by Fleischer, then had the lead in Movie Movie (1978) directed by Stanley Donen, costarring with Van Devere, and Hardcore (1979) written and directed by Paul Schrader.
Scott starred in the popular 1980 horror film The Changeling, with Melvyn Douglas and Van Devere. He received the Canadian Genie Award for Best Foreign Film Actor for his performance. He followed this with The Formula (1980) co-starring Marlon Brando, which was a flop. With one exception, it was the last time he had the lead in a major studio feature film.
Scott returned to Broadway for Tricks of the Trade (1980) with his wife, which ran for one performance.
Supporting actor/TV films
In 1982, he was cast as Fagin in the CBS made-for-TV adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. On Broadway he starred in and directed a successful revival of Noël Coward's Present Laughter (1982–83).
He starred in China Rose (1983) for TV and had a support role in Firestarter (1984).
In 1984 he directed a Broadway revival of Coward's Design for Living which ran for 245 performances.
He played the title role in Mussolini: The Untold Story (1985) for TV and also starred in Choices (1986).
Scott on Some Aspects of Acting, Time, March 22, 1971
In 1986, Scott reprised his role as Patton in a made-for-television sequel, The Last Days of Patton. The movie was based on Patton's final weeks after being mortally injured in a car accident, with flashbacks of Patton's life. At the time the sequel was aired, Scott mentioned in a TV Guide interview that he told the academy to donate his Oscar to the Patton Museum, but since the instructions were never put in writing, it was never delivered.
On Broadway he did The Boys in Autumn (1986).
He had the lead role in a TV series Mr. President (1987–88) which ran for 24 episodes.
In 1989, Scott starred in the television film The Ryan White Story, as Charles Vaughan, the lawyer defending Ryan White from discrimination. In 1990, he voiced Smoke, the villain in the television special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, and he also voiced the villainous Percival McLeach in Disney's The Rescuers Down Under that same year.
He was featured in The Exorcist III (1990).
Scott had a starring role in a series, Traps (1994) but it only ran five episodes.
Scott received another Tony nomination for his performance as Henry Drummond in a revival of Inherit the Wind (1996). In the latter play, he had to miss an unusually large number of performances due to illness, with his role being taken over by National Actors Theatre artistic director Tony Randall. In 1996, he received an honorary Drama Desk Award for a lifetime devotion to theatre.
In 1997, Scott portrayed Juror No. 3 in the TV-movie 12 Angry Men, for which he would win another Emmy Award.
He hosted the TV series Weapons at War on A&E TV, but was replaced after one season by Gerald McRaney. Weapons at War moved to The History Channel with Scott still credited as host for the first season. Scott was replaced by Robert Conrad after his death in 1999.
In 1999, Scott made his last film, the TV movie Inherit the Wind, portraying Matthew Harrison Brady (ironically opposite the role he had played on stage) with Jack Lemmon as Henry Drummond, with whom he had also worked in 12 Angry Men.
Scott had a reputation for being moody and mercurial while on the set. "There is no question you get pumped up by the recognition," he once said, "Then a self-loathing sets in when you realize you're enjoying it." One anecdote relates that one of his stage costars, Maureen Stapleton, told the director of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite, "I don't know what to do – I'm scared of him." The director, Mike Nichols, replied, "My dear, everyone is scared of George C. Scott."
Scott was married five times:
- Carolyn Hughes (m. 1951–1955); one daughter, Victoria, born December 19, 1952.
- Patricia Reed (m. 1955–1960); two children: Matthew – born May 27, 1957, and actress Devon Scott – born November 29, 1958.
- He married Canadian-born actress Colleen Dewhurst (m. 1960–1965), by whom he had two sons, writer Alexander Scott (born August 1960), and actor Campbell Scott (born July 19, 1961). Dewhurst nicknamed her husband "G.C."
- He remarried Colleen Dewhurst on July 4, 1967, but they divorced for a second time on February 2, 1972.
- He married American actress Trish Van Devere on September 4, 1972, with whom he starred in several films, including the supernatural thriller The Changeling (1980). Scott adopted Trish's nephew, George Dewey Scott II, and resided in Malibu. They remained married until his death in 1999.
He had a daughter, Michelle (b. 1954), with Karen Truesdell.
Illness and death
Scott suffered a series of heart attacks in the 1980s. He died on September 22, 1999, aged 71, of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California in an unmarked grave located to the right of that of Walter Matthau.
- "Letter from George Dewey Scott, father of actor George C Scott". Wise County Virginia Genealogical Research Site. January 6, 1981. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- Sheward, David (2008). Rage and Glory: The Volatile Life and Career of George C. Scott. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 137. ISBN 9781557836700.
- "Obituaries—George C. Scott: The Man Who Refused an Oscar". BBC News Online. September 23, 1999. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "Mizzou's Most Notable Alumni". Mizzou Alumni Association. Mizzou Alumni Association. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
- "1957–1958 Obie Awards". Infoplease.com. 2007. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- Terry Coleman (2005). Olivier. Henry Holt & Co. p. 591. ISBN 0-8050-7536-4.
- Stephen, Bowie. "East Side/West Side". classictvhistory.com.The official reason for the series’ death, and the one maintained to this day by most of the individuals who worked on the show, was a decline in ratings and a loss of sponsorship resulting from many Southern affiliates’ refusal to broadcast East Side. This explanation conveniently locates the bigotry behind the series’ cancellation with backward Southern viewers, rather than with the top brass of CBS. But it doesn't hold up to close scrutiny. As Edith Efron pointed out in a 1964 TV Guide article, East Side / West Side was dropped by no more affiliates in the South than in any other region of the country, and ultimately only six percent of the potential viewing audience had the series blacked out in their areas. It's more likely that Aubrey and his subordinates gave East Side the axe because they were caught in a no-win situation: they couldn’t allow the show to remain as openly liberal as it was for fear that the voluminous hate mail would scare off sponsors, but they couldn’t eliminate the hot-button elements of the series without endangering its critical cache and existing viewer loyalty. Had the show been a smash in the ratings, its controversial nature would not have been an issue.
- Kedrosky, Paul (November 17, 2004). "James Earl Jones on Dr. Strangelove". Infectious Greed. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001715/bio 4/9/2012
- "Actor George C. Scott Dead at 71". The Washington Post. Associated Press. September 23, 1999. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "Show Business: Meat Parade". Time. March 8, 1971. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- Mason Wiley and Damien Bona (February 12, 1986). Inside Oscar. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-31423-9.
- David Nusair (December 17, 2001). "The Changeling". Reel Film Reviews. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- Roberts, Jerry (2012). The Hollywood Scandal Almanac: Twelve Months of Sinister, Salacious, and Senseless History. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-61423-786-0. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Mel Gussow (September 24, 1999). "George C. Scott, Celebrated for 'Patton' Role, Dies at 71". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "The Beauty Who Tamed the Beast". People. February 7, 1977. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "George C. Scott: Tempering a Terrible Fire". Time. March 22, 1971. Retrieved February 19, 2011.
- Nick Ravo (November 2, 1988). "A Snoozing Bear Upsets Courtly Connecticut Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- Burt Lancaster Making Gains In Stroke Therapy
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