George C. Scott

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George C. Scott
George C. Scott - publicity.JPG
in The Hustler (1961)
Born George Campbell Scott
(1927-10-18)October 18, 1927
Wise, Virginia, U.S.
Died September 22, 1999(1999-09-22) (aged 71)
Westlake Village, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Occupation Actor, director, producer
Years active 1958–1999
Spouse(s) Carolyn Hughes (1951–55)
Patricia Reed (1955–60)
Colleen Dewhurst (1960–65; 1967–72)
Trish Van Devere (1972–99)

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, and as Ebenezer Scrooge in Clive Donner's adaptation of A Christmas Carol. He was the first actor to refuse the Academy Award for Best Actor. He had already warned the Academy beforehand that if he won, he would refuse the award on the philosophical grounds that every great dramatic performance was unique and could not be compared to others.

Early life[edit]

George Campbell Scott was born in Wise, Virginia, the son of Helena Agnes (née Slemp; 1904–1935) and George Dewey Scott (1902–1988).[1] His mother died just before his eighth birthday, and he was raised by his father, an executive with 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 ever published. As an adult, he tried on many occasions to write a novel, but was never able to complete one to his satisfaction.[citation needed]

Scott joined the US Marines, serving from 1945–49. He was assigned to 8th and I Barracks in Washington, D.C., in which capacity he taught English literature and radio speaking/writing at the Marine Corps Institute. His primary duty, however, was as an honor guard for military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. He later claimed his duties at Arlington led to his drinking.[2] After his 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 very first stage appearance—in a student production of Noël Coward's Hands Across the Sea, directed by Jerry V. Tobias. He graduated from the university in 1953.[citation needed]

Broadway and film career[edit]

On stage as Richard III, 1958

Scott first rose to prominence for his work with Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. 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, and for playing the title character in William Shakespeare's Richard III (a performance one critic said was the "angriest" Richard III of all time).[3]

He was on Broadway the following year, winning critical acclaim for his portrayal of the prosecutor in The Andersonville Trial by Saul Levitt. This was based on the military trial of the commandant of the infamous Civil War prison camp in Andersonville, Georgia. His performance earned him a mention in Time magazine. In 1970, Scott directed a highly acclaimed television version of this same play. It starred William Shatner, Richard Basehart, and Jack Cassidy, who was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance as the defense lawyer in this production.

Scott continued to appear in and sometimes direct Broadway productions throughout the 1960s. The most commercially successful show in which he worked was Neil Simon's Plaza Suite (1968). The show was composed of three separate one-act plays all utilizing the same set, with Scott portraying a different lead character in each act, and ran for 1,097 performances.

He made many television appearances, including an episode of 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 appeared opposite Laurence Olivier and Julie Harris in Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory in a 1961 television production.[4]

With Geraldine Page (1959) in a publicity still for People Kill People Sometimes

In 1963, Scott was top-billed in the CBS hour-long drama series East Side, West Side; he and co-star Cicely Tyson played urban social workers. The show lasted only one season. 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.[5] In 1966, Scott appeared as Jud Barker in the NBC western The Road West, starring Barry Sullivan, Kathryn Hays, Andrew Prine, and Glenn Corbett. Scott won wide public recognition in the film Anatomy of a Murder, in which he played a wily prosecutor opposite James Stewart as the defense attorney. Scott was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Scott's most famous early role was in Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, in which he played General "Buck" Turgidson. It is revealed on the DVD documentary that after having shot many takes of any given scene, Stanley Kubrick would frequently ask Scott to redo it in an "over the top" fashion. Kubrick proceeded to use this version in the final cut, which Scott supposedly resented.[6]

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.[7]

In Dr. Strangelove (1964)

In a letter to the Motion Picture Academy he stated that he didn't 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."[2][8] Sixteen years later, in 1986, Scott reprised his role 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.[citation needed]

The Oscar is currently[when?] displayed at the Virginia Military Institute museum in Lexington, Virginia, the same institution that generations of Pattons have attended. Scott did not turn down the New York Film Critics Award for his performance (of which his then wife Colleen Dewhurst said, "George thinks this is the only film award worth having"[9]).

He continued to do stage work throughout the rest of his career, receiving Tony Award nominations for his performance as Astrov in a revival of Uncle Vanya (1973), his Willy Loman in a revival of Death of a Salesman (1975), and 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.[10] In 1996, he received an honorary Drama Desk Award for a lifetime devotion to theatre.

Scott also starred in well-received productions of Larry Gelbart's Sly Fox (1976) (based on Ben Jonson's Volpone), which ran 495 performances, and a revival of Noël Coward's Present Laughter (1982). He frequently directed on Broadway as well, including productions of All God's Chillun Got Wings (1975) and Design for Living (1985), as well as being an actor/director (Death of a Salesman, Present Laughter, and On Borrowed Time (1991)).

In 1971, Scott gave two more critically acclaimed performances, as a de facto Sherlock Holmes in They Might Be Giants and as an alcoholic doctor in the black comedy The Hospital. Despite his repeated snubbing of the Academy, Scott was again nominated for Best Actor for the latter role. Scott excelled on television that year as well, appearing in an adaptation of Arthur Miller's The Price, an installment of the Hallmark Hall of Fame anthology. He was nominated for, and won, an Emmy Award for his role, which he accepted.

Scott also starred in the popular 1980 horror film The Changeling, with Melvyn Douglas. He received the Canadian Genie Award for Best Foreign Film Actor for his performance.[11] In 1981, Scott appeared alongside Timothy Hutton and rising stars Sean Penn and Tom Cruise in the coming-of-age film Taps. In 1982, he was cast as Fagin in the CBS made-for-TV adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. In 1984, he portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in a television adaptation of A Christmas Carol. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for the role.

On Influences:

I think I learned to act from people like James Cagney and Paul Muni. And I'm sure I learned more from Bette Davis than anyone. She has enormous presence, a sense of surprise. She sets you up like a great boxer and BAM! she gives you something else. She does have a certain consistent style, but when you examine her work you find enormous variety of color and intelligence.

Scott on Some Aspects of Acting, Time, March 22, 1971

In 1989, Scott starred in the television movie 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 the same year. In 1997, Scott portrayed Juror #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, he made his last film, the TV-movie Inherit the Wind, portraying William Jennings Bryan (ironically the opposite role he had played on stage) with Jack Lemmon as Henry Drummond, who he had also worked with 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."[12] A famous 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."[13]

Politics[edit]

In 1982, Scott appeared in a campaign commercial for Republican U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker of Connecticut.[14] Like Weicker, Scott was at that time a resident of Greenwich, Connecticut.

Personal life and death[edit]

George C. Scott's unmarked grave

Scott was married five times:

  1. Carolyn Hughes (1951–1955) (one daughter, Victoria, born December 19, 1952)
  2. Patricia Reed (1955–1960) (two children: Matthew – born May 27, 1957, and actress Devon Scott – born November 29, 1958).
  3. The Canadian-born actress Colleen Dewhurst (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."
  4. He remarried Colleen Dewhurst on July 4, 1967, but they divorced for a second time on February 2, 1972.
  5. 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 D. Scott and resided in Malibu. They remained married until his death in 1999.

He had a daughter, Michelle (born August 21, 1954) with Karen Truesdell.

While he was divorced from Colleen Dewhurst, he developed a stormy relationship with actress Ava Gardner fueling their bouts with alcohol; continuing an age-old problem dating back to his military service. Scott suffered a series of heart attacks in the 1980s.[15] He died on September 22, 1999, aged 71, of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. His remains were buried in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California, in an unmarked grave.

Partial filmography[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
1958 The DuPont Show of the Month Jacques episode: A Tale of Two Cities
1959 The Hanging Tree George Grubb
The United States Steel Hour Marshal Gulliver episode: Trap for a Stranger
Anatomy of a Murder Claude Dancer Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1961 The Hustler Bert Gordon Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
The Power and the Glory Police lieutenant TV movie
Ben Casey Dr. Karl Anders episode: I Remember a Lemon Tree
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
1963 The List of Adrian Messenger Anthony Gethyrn
1963-1964 East Side/West Side Neil Brocker 26 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
1964 Dr. Strangelove General Buck Turgidson
The Yellow Rolls-Royce Paolo Maltese
1966 The Bible: In the Beginning Abraham
Not with My Wife, You Don't! "Tank" Martin
1967 The Flim-Flam Man Mordecai
The Crucible John Proctor TV movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1968 Petulia Dr. Archie Bollen Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1969 This Savage Land Jud Barker TV movie
1970 Patton General George S. Patton, Jr. Academy Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Laurel Award for Best Dramatic Performance, Male
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Jane Eyre Edward Rochester TV movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1971 ITV Saturday Night Theatre Victor Franz episode: The Price
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
They Might Be Giants Justin Playfair Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (also for The Hospital)
The Last Run Harry Garmes
The Hospital Dr. Herbert Bock Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (also for They Might Be Giants)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1972 The New Centurions Kilvinski
Rage Dan Logan (also directed)
1973 Oklahoma Crude Noble Mason
The Day of the Dolphin Dr. Jake Terrell
1974 The Savage is Loose John (also directed)
Bank Shot Walter Upjohn Ballentine
1975 The Hindenburg Ritter
1976 Beauty and the Beast The Beast TV movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1977 Islands in the Stream Thomas Hudson
Crossed Swords Ruffler
1978 Movie Movie Gloves Malloy/Spats Baxter Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1979 Hardcore Jake VanDorn
1980 The Changeling John Russell Fantafestival Award for Best Actor
Genie Award for Best Performance by a Foreign Actor
The Formula Lt. Barney Caine
1981 Taps General Harlane Bache
1982 Oliver Twist Fagin TV movie
1984 A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge TV movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Firestarter John Rainbird
1985 Mussolini: The Untold Story Benito Mussolini TV movie
1986 The Murders in the Rue Morgue Auguste Dupin
The Last Days of Patton General George S. Patton, Jr. TV movie
1987 Pals Jack H. Stobbs
John Livingston Spangler
TV movie
1987-1988 Mr. President President Samuel Arthur Tresch 24 episodes
1989 The Ryan White Story Charles Vaughan, Sr.
1990 Descending Angel Florian Stroia
The Exorcist III Kinderman Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Actor
The Rescuers Down Under McLeach Voice
Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue Smoke Voice
Made for video
1993 Malice Dr. Martin Kessler
Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue Smoke Voice
Made for video
Curacao Cornelius Wettering
1994 Traps Joe Trapcheck 5 episodes
1995 Angus Grandpa Ivan
The Whipping Boy Blind George
Tyson Cus D'Amato
1996 Titanic Captain Edward J. Smith
1997 12 Angry Men Juror #3 TV movie
CableACE Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Country Justice Clayton Hayes TV movie
1999 Gloria Ruby
Rocky Marciano Pierino Marchegiano TV movie
Inherit the Wind Matthew Harrison Brady TV movie
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Letter from George Dewey Scott, father of actor George C Scott". Wise County Virginia Genealogical Research Site. January 6, 1981. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  2. ^ a b "Obituaries—George C. Scott: The Man Who Refused an Oscar". BBC News Online. September 23, 1999. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  3. ^ "1957–1958 Obie Awards". Infoplease.com. 2007. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  4. ^ Terry Coleman (2005). Olivier. Henry Holt & Co. p. 591. ISBN 0-8050-7536-4. 
  5. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001715/bio 4/9/2012
  6. ^ Kedrosky, Paul (November 17, 2004). "James Earl Jones on Dr. Strangelove". Infectious Greed. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  7. ^ "Actor George C. Scott Dead at 71". The Washington Post. Associated Press. September 23, 1999. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  8. ^ "Show Business: Meat Parade". Time. March 8, 1971. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  9. ^ Mason Wiley and Damien Bona (February 12, 1986). Inside Oscar. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-31423-9. 
  10. ^ Mel Gussow (September 24, 1999). "George C. Scott, Celebrated for 'Patton' Role, Dies at 71". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  11. ^ David Nusair (December 17, 2001). "The Changeling". Reel Film Reviews. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  12. ^ "The Beauty Who Tamed the Beast". People. February 7, 1977. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  13. ^ "George C. Scott: Tempering a Terrible Fire". Time. March 22, 1971. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  14. ^ Nick Ravo (November 2, 1988). "A Snoozing Bear Upsets Courtly Connecticut Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  15. ^ http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1991-01-04/news/9101040639_1_burt-lancaster-therapy-stroke

External links[edit]