Zachary Scott

Zachary Scott (February 21, 1914 October 3, 1965)[1] was an American actor who was most notable for his roles as villains and "mystery men".

Zachary Scott
Scott in a 1948 New York Sunday News issue
Born(1914-02-21)February 21, 1914
DiedOctober 3, 1965(1965-10-03) (aged 51)
Alma materUniversity of Texas
Years active1941–1965
Elaine Anderson
(m. 1934; div. 1950)

Ruth Ford
(m. 1952)


Early life

Born in Austin, Texas, he was of Greek descent; his surname was Skotidis. His grandfather had been a very successful cattle rancher, and Scott was a distant cousin of George Washington.

Scott intended to be a doctor like his father, Zachary Scott Sr. (1880–1964),[2] but after attending the University of Texas at Austin, he dropped out at age 19 and worked on a freighter that took him to England. There he appeared in almost two dozen repertory theatre productions in 18 months.[3] When he returned to Texas, he began to act in local theater productions.


Alfred Lunt discovered Scott in Texas and persuaded him to move to New York City, where he appeared on Broadway. He made his debut in a revival of Ah, Wilderness! in 1941[4] with a small role as a bartender.

Scott was also in The Damask Cheek (1942), The Rock (1943), and Those Endearing Young Charms (1943).[4]

Warner Bros.

Jack L. Warner saw Scott perform in Those Endearing Young Charms and afterwards signed him to his first film contract,[3] which led to his initial screen appearance in The Mask of Dimitrios (1944).[5]

Scott was one of the many Warners stars who had small roles in Hollywood Canteen (1944). He was loaned out to United Artists to play the lead in The Southerner (1945) directed by Jean Renoir.

Back at Warners, Scott was cast in Mildred Pierce (1945) and received much acclaim for his performance. In the film he portrays Joan Crawford's somewhat sleazy love interest, whose mysterious murder forms the basis of the plot. (In the novel on which the movie is based, the character is just as sleazy but is not killed.)

Scott co-starred with Faye Emerson in Danger Signal (1945) and was with Janis Paige and Dane Clark in Her Kind of Man (1946). In 1946 exhibitors voted Scott the third most promising "star of tomorrow".[6]

During this period, Scott and his first wife Elaine socialized regularly with Angela Lansbury and her first husband, Richard Cromwell. Elaine Scott had met Zachary Scott back in Austin and she made a name for herself behind the scenes on Broadway as stage manager for the original production of Oklahoma!. The Scotts had one child together, Waverly Scott.

Scott supported Ann Sheridan in The Unfaithful (1947) and Ronald Reagan and Alexis Smith in Stallion Road (1947). MGM borrowed him to support Lana Turner and Spencer Tracy in Cass Timberlane (1947).

He had the lead in a noir for Eagle Lion, Ruthless (1948), then returned to Warners for Whiplash (1948) with Clark. He supported Virginia Mayo in Flaxy Martin (1949) and Joel McCrea in the independent South of St. Louis (1949). He was reunited with Crawford in Flamingo Road (1949).

Warners tried Scott in a comedy with Alexis Smith, One Last Fling (1949). He starred in some films outside the studio, Guilty Bystander (1950) and Shadow on the Wall (1950). At Warners he supported Randolph Scott in Colt .45 (1950). He did Born to Be Bad (1950) for Nicholas Ray and Pretty Baby (1950) for Warners.

Scott appeared on a variety of television series such as Armstrong Circle Theatre (1950) and Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1951). He did Lightning Strikes Twice (1951) for King Vidor and The Secret of Convict Lake (1951).

In 1950, Scott was involved in a rafting accident. Also during that year, he and Elaine divorced, and she later married writer John Steinbeck. Possibly as a result of these developments or due to a box-office slump, he succumbed to a depression which affected his acting for Warner Bros. The studio did not continue to promote his films, so he turned back to the stage and began to accept roles on television.

Leaving Warners

Scott's first film after he left Warners was Stronghold (1951) with Veronica Lake.[7] He followed it with Let's Make It Legal (1951). He was on TV in Tales of Tomorrow (1951) and Betty Crocker Star Matinee (1952) and went to England to make Wings of Danger (1952).

In Hollywood he was in Studio One in Hollywood (1953), and Medallion Theatre (1953) on TV, and Appointment in Honduras (1953), directed by Jacques Tourneur. He was in The Revlon Mirror Theater (1953), Chevron Theatre (1953), Suspense (1954), Schlitz Playhouse (1954), The Motorola Television Hour (1954), Campbell Summer Soundstage (1954), The United States Steel Hour (1954), Omnibus (1954), Climax! (1955), General Electric Theater (1955), Robert Montgomery Presents (1956, playing Philip Marlowe in a version of The Big Sleep), Science Fiction Theatre (1955), The Star and the Story (1956), Celebrity Playhouse (1956), Theatre Night (1957) and Pursuit (1958).

He made the occasional film such as Treasure of Ruby Hills (1955), Shotgun (1955), Flame of the Islands (1956), The Counterfeit Plan (1957), and Man in the Shadow (1957).

Scott returned to Broadway with Requiem for a Nun (1959).

Later career

Scott was in The Young One (1960) directed by Luis Bunuel. He guest starred on The Chevy Mystery Show (1960), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1960) and Diagnosis: Unknown (1960). In 1961, he portrayed the part of White Eyes, a Native American Chief, in the episode "Incident Before Black Pass" on Rawhide.

During this period, he remarried, and he and his second wife, actress Ruth Ford, had a child together (he also adopted her daughter from a previous marriage).[3]

He was in the films Natchez Trace (1960) and had roles in The DuPont Show of the Month (1961), Play of the Week (1961), The New Breed (1961), The Defenders (1961) and The DuPont Show of the Week (1962).

Scott's last roles included It's Only Money (1962) with Jerry Lewis, The Expendables (1962) (a TV movie), and episodes of The Doctors and the Nurses (1962) and The Rogues (1965). He went back to Broadway for A Rainy Day in Newark (1963) by Howard Teichmann.

Scott moved back to Austin.

Personal life

Before marrying Ford, Scott was married to Elaine Anderson. They later divorced.[3]


On October 3, 1965, Scott died from a malignant brain tumor at the home of his mother in Austin, Texas, at the age of 51.[3]


In 1968, Austin renamed its civic center Zachary Scott Theatre Center in memory of the city's native son.

His family also endowed two chairs at the University of Texas's theatre department in his name. Two streets in the Austin area are named in his memory as well: one street at the old airport Mueller Redevelopment and the other one in unincorporated southeast Travis County.


Scott has a star at 6349 Hollywood Boulevard in the Motion Pictures section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated on February 8, 1960.[8]


Year Title Role Notes
1944The Mask of DimitriosDimitrios MakropoulosFilm debut
1944Hollywood CanteenZachary Scott
1945The SouthernerSam Tucker
1945Mildred PierceMonte Beragon
1945Danger SignalRonnie Mason
1946Her Kind of ManSteve Maddux
1947Stallion RoadStephen Purcell
1947The UnfaithfulBob Hunter
1947Cass TimberlaneBradd Criley
1948RuthlessHorace Woodruff Vendig
1948WhiplashRex Durant
1949Flaxy MartinWalter Colby
1949South of St. LouisCharlie Burns
1949Flamingo RoadFielding Carlisle
1949One Last FlingLarry Pearce
1950Guilty BystanderMax Thursday
1950Shadow on the WallDavid I. Starrling
1950Colt .45Jason Brett
1950Born to Be BadCurtis Carey
1950Pretty BabyBarry Holmes
1951Lightning Strikes TwiceHarvey Fortescue Turner
1951The Secret of Convict LakeJohnny Greer
1951StrongholdDon Miguel Navarro
1951Let's Make It LegalVictor Macfarland
1952Wings of DangerRichard Van NessAlternate title: Dead on Course
1953Appointment in HondurasHarry Sheppard
1955Treasure of Ruby HillsRoss Haney
1956Flame of the IslandsWade Evans
1957The Counterfeit PlanMax Brant
1957Man in the ShadowJohn Lewis SullivanAlternate title: Violent Stranger
1960The Young OneMiller
1960Natchez TraceJohn A. Morrow / John Murrell
1962It's Only MoneyGregory DeWittFinal film role

Radio appearances

1945Suspense"Murder Off Key"[9]

See also


  1. Obituary Variety, October 6, 1965.
  2. Variety obituary of Zachary Scott Sr., February 19, 1964.
  3. "Actor Zachary Scott, Leading Man For 3 Decades, Dies of Brain Tumor". The Akron Beacon Journal. Ohio, Akron. Associated Press. October 4, 1965. p. A-9. Retrieved September 2, 2018 via
  4. "Zachary Scot". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 3 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  5. DRAMA AND FILM: Charles Coburn' Wins Col. Effingham Role Carol Stone of Broddway Stage Sought by Producer Bernerd for Screen Duty Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 Dec 1943: A8
  6. "The Stars of To-morrow". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 10 September 1946. p. 11 Supplement: The Sydney Morning Herald Magazine. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  7. Schallert, Edwin (25 August 1950). "Melodious 'Huck Finn' En Route; Tay Garnett Guides 'Soldiers Three'". Los Angeles Times. p. 13.
  8. "Zachary Scott". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on 3 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  9. "Escape and Suspense!: Suspense - Murder Off Key".
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