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Overview for George C Scott
George C Scott

George C Scott



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Also Known As: George Campbell Scott Died: September 22, 1999
Born: October 18, 1927 Cause of Death: ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm
Birth Place: Wise, Virginia, USA Profession: Cast ... actor director truck driver bricklayer


George C. Scott was that rare blend of superstar and character actor, a performer of enormous power and charisma who could carry a film just as easily as he could steal it. Fellow actor Jose Ferrer described Scott’s intense acting style as “a concentrated fury, a sense of inner rage, a kind of controlled madness.”

An Oscar winner as Best Actor for Patton (1970), Scott was also nominated in that category for The Hospital (1971) and in the Supporting Actor category for Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and The Hustler (1961). Despite his disdain for awards as “meat parades,” he scored numerous other wins or nominations for his extensive work in television and upon the stage.

George Campbell Scott was born October 18, 1927, in Wise, Va. His mother died when he was eight, leaving his father, an automotive executive, to raise him. Scott’s original ambition was to become a writer, but he was never able to finish a novel to his satisfaction. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1945-49 and graduated from the University of Missouri in 1953.

After acting in summer stock, Scott gained the first major attention for his stage work with Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival, winning a 1958 Obie award for his roles in Children of Darkness, As You Like It and Richard III. It was during this period that Scott first performed with his future wife, the equally dynamic Colleen Dewhurst. (He had two previous wives, Carolyn Hughes and Patricia Reed, and would marry a fourth, actress Trish Van Devere, in 1972.)

Scott made his film debut in a small but explosive role in a Gary Cooper Western, The Hanging Tree (1959), playing a fire-and-brimstone preacher. Next came Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder and that first Oscar nomination, for playing the coldly sarcastic prosecutor opposite James Stewart’s defense attorney. The second nomination was earned for the hard-nosed, fast-talking promoter of The Hustler. Scott laid down these roles with such authority that he was given his first film lead, in John Huston’s The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), in which he plays an irascible Scotland Yard inspector.

It now seems odd that Scott wasn’t nominated for his turn in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) as the hilariously obtuse General Buck Turgidson. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he was already rejecting awards recognition. His other projects of the 1960s included chapters in two episodic films, The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964); and The Bible … In the Beginning (1966), in which he plays Abraham. The offbeat romance Petulia (1968), directed by Richard Lester, gave Scott one of his most sympathetic roles as a divorced surgeon who falls for a free spirit (Julie Christie).

The role of General George S. Patton, the thorny and celebrated World War II commander, was coveted by John Wayne and turned down by Spencer Tracy, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger and Lee Marvin. Scott took on the role in Patton, he said, because “he was a professional and I admire professionalism.” The film was a huge success, winning seven Oscars including one as Best Picture and another as Best Actor, which Scott famously turned down.

The fame and notoriety led to a rash of film roles for Scott including an alcoholic doctor in the black comedy The Hospital, and a delusional man in They Might Be Giants (both 1971), opposite Joanne Woodward as his psychiatrist. Scott made his debut as a film director with Rage (1972, TCM premiere), in which he also stars. He personifies that title as well as any actor probably could, in the role of a father who goes berserk when his son and the animals on their sheep ranch die after being exposed to poison gas by the military.

Scott, who had often worked onstage with then-wife Colleen Dewhurst, also appeared frequently opposite his last wife, Trish Van Devere – to the point that jokes were sometimes made about his professional faithfulness. Scott and Devere’s films together included The Last Run (1971), The Day of the Dolphin (1973), The Savage Is Loose (1974), Movie Movie (1978) and The Changeling (1980).

Other highlights of George C. Scott’s later film career include Oklahoma Crude (1973), The Hindenburg (1975), Islands in the Stream (1977), The Formula (1980), Taps (1981) and The Exorcist III (1990). His final theatrical film was Sidney Lumet’s remake of the John Cassavetes script Gloria (1999), with Sharon Stone as the gun moll of the title and Scott as Ruby, her gangster ex-lover. Scott died in September of that year in Westlake Village, Calif.

Scott returned to stage work throughout his career. He had made his Broadway debut in 1958 opposite Judith Anderson in Comes a Day, for which he earned a Tony Award nomination. Other nominations came for The Andersonville Trial, Uncle Vanya, Death of a Salesman and Inherit the Wind. His many other illustrious Broadway roles included those in Antony and Cleopatra, Plaza Suite, The Little Foxes, Three Sisters, On Borrowed Time and Desire Under the Elms.

Television was also very significant for Scott, who repeated many of his stage triumphs for the TV cameras as well as acting in original teleplays and TV movies. In 1963-64 he starred in East Side, West Side, a critically acclaimed NBC-TV series that ran for a season and earned Scott an Emmy nomination. He won the award itself for The Price (1969) and 12 Angry Men (1997), with additional nominations for Ben Casey (1961), The Crucible (1969), Jane Eyre (1970), Beauty and the Beast (1976) and A Christmas Carol (1984).

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