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Zachary Scott

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Zachary Scott
Scott in a 1948 issue of New York Sunday News
Born(1914-02-21)February 21, 1914
DiedOctober 3, 1965(1965-10-03) (aged 51)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Texas
Years active1941–1965
(m. 1934; div. 1950)
(m. 1952)

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

Early life[edit]

Scott was born in Austin, Texas, the son of Sallie Lee (Masterson) and Zachary Thomson Scott, a doctor.[2]

Scott intended to follow his father into medicine,[3] but after attending the University of Texas at Austin, he dropped out at age 19 and worked as a seaman on an England-bound freighter. There he appeared in almost two dozen repertory theatre productions in 18 months.[4] When he returned to Texas, he began to act in local theater productions.[5]



Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne met Scott and his wife Elaine Anderson in Austin, Texas, where Scott was completing his degree, and then wrote to Lawrence Langer about summer jobs for both at the Westport Playhouse in Connecticut, which led to Scott's engagements in New York.[6] He made his debut in a 1941 revival of Ah, Wilderness! with a small role as a bartender.[7] He was also in The Damask Cheek (1942), The Rock (1943), and Those Endearing Young Charms (1943).[7]

Warner Bros.[edit]

Jack L. Warner saw Scott perform in Those Endearing Young Charms and signed him to his first film contract,[4] which led to his screen debut in The Mask of Dimitrios (1944).[8]

Scott was one of the many Warners stars who had small roles in Hollywood Canteen (1944). He was loaned 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 as the duplicitous lover of both Joan Crawford and her daughter, and his mysterious murder forms the basis of the plot and frames the film's opening and closing. Variety noted that Scott "makes the most of his character" in "a talented performance."[9]

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".[10]

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 Films, 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 One Last Fling (1949), a comedy with Alexis Smith. 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.

After being dropped by 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).

Leaving Warners[edit]

Scott's first film after he left Warners was Stronghold (1951) with Veronica Lake.[11] 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 roles[edit]

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

He was in the film 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 TV movie The Expendables (1962), and episodes of The Doctors and the Nurses (1962) and The Rogues (1965). He returned to Broadway for A Rainy Day in Newark (1963) by Howard Teichmann. He then moved back to Austin.

Personal life[edit]

During his time at Warner's, Scott and his first wife Elaine socialized regularly with Angela Lansbury and her husband Richard Cromwell. Elaine Scott had met Zachary Scott in Austin and she made a name for herself behind the scenes on Broadway as stage manager for the original production of Oklahoma!. [citation needed]

The Scotts had one child together, Waverly Scott.[citation needed]

In 1950, Scott was involved in a rafting accident. Also during that year, he and Elaine divorced; she later married writer John Steinbeck. Possibly as a result of these developments or due to a box-office slump, Scott succumbed to depression, which affected his acting for Warners.[citation needed]

Scott married his second wife, actress Ruth Ford, in 1952. Scott adopted her daughter, Shelly, from Ford's previous marriage to Peter van Eyck.[4][citation needed]


Scott died on October 3, 1965, from a malignant brain tumor at the home of his mother in Austin, Texas at the age of 51.[4]


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.[12]

In 1968, Austin renamed its civic center Zachary Scott Theatre Center in memory of the city's native son. Two streets in the Austin area are named in his memory: at the old airport Mueller Redevelopment and in unincorporated southeast Travis County.[citation needed]

Scott's family endowed two chairs at the University of Texas's theatre department in his name.[citation needed]


Scott in the trailer for the film Mildred Pierce (1945)
Year Title Role Notes
1944 The Mask of Dimitrios Dimitrios Makropoulos
1944 Hollywood Canteen Himself
1945 The Southerner Sam Tucker
1945 Mildred Pierce Monte Beragon
1945 Danger Signal Ronnie Mason
1946 Her Kind of Man Steve Maddux
1947 Stallion Road Stephen Purcell
1947 The Unfaithful Bob Hunter
1947 Cass Timberlane Bradd Criley
1948 Ruthless Horace Woodruff Vendig
1948 Whiplash Rex Durant
1949 Flaxy Martin Walter Colby
1949 South of St. Louis Charlie Burns
1949 Flamingo Road Fielding Carlisle
1949 One Last Fling Larry Pearce
1950 Guilty Bystander Max Thursday
1950 Shadow on the Wall David I. Starrling
1950 Colt .45 Jason Brett
1950 Born to Be Bad Curtis Carey
1950 Pretty Baby Barry Holmes
1951 Lightning Strikes Twice Harvey Fortescue Turner
1951 The Secret of Convict Lake Johnny Greer
1951 Stronghold Don Miguel Navarro
1951 Let's Make It Legal Victor Macfarland
1952 Wings of Danger Richard Van Ness Alternate title: Dead on Course
1953 Appointment in Honduras Harry Sheppard
1955 Treasure of Ruby Hills Ross Haney
1955 Shotgun Reb
1956 Flame of the Islands Wade Evans
1956 Bandido! Kennedy
1957 The Counterfeit Plan Max Brant
1957 Man in the Shadow John Lewis Sullivan alternate title: Violent Stranger
1960 The Young One Miller
1960 Natchez Trace John A. Morrow / John Murrell
1962 It's Only Money Gregory DeWitt

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1945 Suspense "Murder Off Key"[13]


Year Title Role Notes
1956 G.E. Summer Originals Season 1 Episode 4: "The Unwilling Witness"
1960 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Mr. Blake Season 6 Episode 5: "The Five-Forty-Eight"
1961 Rawhide White Eyes Season 3 Episode 27: "Incident Before Black Pass"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, October 6, 1965.
  2. ^ Davis, Ronald L. (2009). Zachary Scott: Hollywood's Sophisticated Cad. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-60473-713-4. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  3. ^ Variety obituary of Zachary Scott Sr., February 19, 1964.
  4. ^ a b c d "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 Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  5. ^ "Scott, Zachary Thomson, Jr. (1914–1965)". Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). Retrieved January 4, 2024.
  6. ^ "Candid Close-Ups: Zachary Scott Finds Everything Just Dandy Still on Broadway." Brooklyn Eagle, July 4, 1943.
  7. ^ a b "Zachary Scot". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on September 3, 2018. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  8. ^ Schallert, Edwin (December 2, 1943). "DRAMA AND FILM: Charles Coburn' Wins Col. Effingham Role Carol Stone of Broddway Stage Sought by Producer Bernerd for Screen Duty". Los Angeles Times. p. A8.
  9. ^ Brogdon, William (October 3, 1945). "Film Reviews: Mildred Pierce". Variety. p. 20. ISSN 0042-2738 – via Internet Archive.
  10. ^ "The Stars of To-morrow". The Sydney Morning Herald. September 10, 1946. p. 11 Supplement: The Sydney Morning Herald Magazine. Retrieved April 24, 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ Schallert, Edwin (August 25, 1950). "Melodious 'Huck Finn' En Route; Tay Garnett Guides 'Soldiers Three'". Los Angeles Times. p. 13.
  12. ^ "Zachary Scott". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on September 3, 2018. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  13. ^ "Escape and Suspense!: Suspense – Murder Off Key". www.escape-suspense.com.

External links[edit]