George C. Scott
Scott in The Hustler in 1961
George Campbell Scott
October 18, 1927
Wise, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||September 22, 1999 (aged 71)|
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Education||Redford High School|
|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|
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 portrayals of the prosecutor Claude Dancer in Anatomy of a Murder (1959), General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (1964), General George S. Patton in the film Patton (1970), and Ebenezer Scrooge in Clive Donner's film A Christmas Carol (1984).
He was the first actor[a] 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 second of two children 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, D.C., 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. He graduated from the university in 1953 with degrees in English and theater.
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.
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. Scott received good reviews for The Wall (1960–61) which ran for 167 performances.
He guest starred on episodes of Sunday Showcase, Playhouse 90, Play of the Week (doing "Don Juan in Hell"), Hallmark Hall of Fame (doing Winterset) and Dow Hour of Great Mysteries. 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".
Scott's first leading role in a feature was The List of Adrian Messenger released in 1963. That year, 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 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 during 1963 in an off-Broadway production of Desire Under the Elms.
Scott's highest-profile early role was in the-Stanley Kubrick directed Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), in which he played General "Buck" Turgidson. In later interviews with 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).
Scott 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. Also during that year, 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. He co-starred with Tony Curtis in the comedy film Not with My Wife, You Don't! (1966) and as John Proctor in a television version of The Crucible (1967), the Arthur Miller play.
Scott returned to Broadway in 1967 to direct Dr. Cook's Garden 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 starred in The Flim-Flam Man (1967) and Petulia (1968).
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 film Patton (1970) 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 nomination in 1962 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) as Mr Rochester and The Price (1971), a version of the Arthur Miller play. For the latter role, he won an Emmy Awards, which he accepted. He also directed but did not appear in, a TV version of The Andersonville Trial (1970).
Early 1970s roles
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 horror film The Changeling (1980), 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 in 1980 with his wife, but it ran for a single performance.
Supporting actor/TV films
Scott appeared alongside Timothy Hutton and rising stars Sean Penn and Tom Cruise in the coming-of-age film Taps (1981), and was cast as Fagin in the CBS made-for-TV adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (1982). On Broadway, he starred in and directed a successful revival of Noël Coward's Present Laughter which ran during 1982–83.
He starred in China Rose (1983) for TV and had a support role in Firestarter (1984) and portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in a television adaptation of A Christmas Carol (1984). He was nominated for an Emmy Award for the role. A 1984 Broadway revival of Coward's Design for Living, which he directed, 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
Scott reprised his role as Patton in a made-for-television sequel, The Last Days of Patton (1986). Based on the final weeks of Patton's life after being mortally injured in a car accident, it contains 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, Scott did The Boys in Autumn in 1986. For TV, he did The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986), and Pals (1987), with Don Ameche, and had the lead role in a TV series Mr. President (1987–88) which ran for 24 episodes. He starred in the television film The Ryan White Story (1989), as Charles Vaughan, the lawyer defending Ryan White from discrimination and voiced Smoke, the villain in the television special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue (1990), and also voiced the villainous Percival McLeach in Disney's The Rescuers Down Under (also 1990).
He was featured in The Exorcist III (1990). For TV, he starred in Descending Angel (also 1990) and Finding the Way Home (1991). On Broadway, he directed and appeared in a revival of On Borrowed Time (1991–92). He had a support role in Curacao (1993) and Malice (1993) and an off-Broadway success with Wrong Turn at Lungfish which had a run in 1993. Scott had a starring role in Traps (1994) but the television series only ran for 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 many 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.
For TV he did Country Justice (1996), Titanic (1996) (as the ship's captain), and The Searchers (1996). Scott portrayed Juror No. 3 in the TV-movie 12 Angry Men (1997), the role played by Lee J. Cobb in the 1957 film, 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. He had support roles in Gloria (1999) for Sidney Lumet and Rocky Marciano (1999).
Scott made his last film, the TV movie Inherit the Wind (1999), 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 co-stars, 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 met Van Devere while shooting The Last Run (1971), which also featured his ex-wife Dewhurst. Scott adopted Van Devere's nephew, George Dressell, and resided in Malibu. They remained married until his death in 1999.
He had a daughter, Michelle (b. 1954), with Karen Truesdell.
In 1982, Scott appeared in a campaign commercial for moderate Republican U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker of Connecticut. Like Weicker, Scott was, at that time, a resident of Greenwich, Connecticut. Scott identified politically as a moderate conservative and supported the death penalty. 
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.
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- Sheward, David (October 1, 2008). Rage and Glory: The Volatile Life and Career of George C. Scott. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 137. ISBN 9781557836700.
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- Burt Lancaster Making Gains In Stroke Therapy
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