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Also Known As: Martha Ellen Scott Died: May 28, 2003
Born: September 22, 1912 Cause of Death: natural causes
Birth Place: Jamesport, Missouri, USA Profession: actor, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An attractive, accomplished actress, Martha Scott began her professional career appearing in Shakespearean productions at the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. After further honing her craft in stock and on radio, she made her mark as Emily in the 1938 original Broadway production of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer-winning "Our Town". Scott earned a 1940 Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her film debut recreating the stage role. For much of her early feature career, the Missouri native generally playing characters much older than herself like the titular elderly woman reflecting on her life in Tay Garnett's "Cheers for Miss Bishop" or her loyal parson's wife in "One Foot in Heaven" (both 1941). Scott delivered a strong portrait of a greedy harridan married to a selfless newspaper editor (John Mills) in "So Well Remembered" (1947). In "The Desperate Hours" (1955), she was stalwart as the wife and mother of the family held hostage by Humphrey Bogart. The actress played the mother of Charlton Heston (nine years her junior) in two 50s Biblical epics, Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" (1955) and William Wyler's Oscar-winner "Ben-Hur" (1959). After an absence of a decade and a half, Scott...

An attractive, accomplished actress, Martha Scott began her professional career appearing in Shakespearean productions at the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. After further honing her craft in stock and on radio, she made her mark as Emily in the 1938 original Broadway production of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer-winning "Our Town". Scott earned a 1940 Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her film debut recreating the stage role. For much of her early feature career, the Missouri native generally playing characters much older than herself like the titular elderly woman reflecting on her life in Tay Garnett's "Cheers for Miss Bishop" or her loyal parson's wife in "One Foot in Heaven" (both 1941). Scott delivered a strong portrait of a greedy harridan married to a selfless newspaper editor (John Mills) in "So Well Remembered" (1947). In "The Desperate Hours" (1955), she was stalwart as the wife and mother of the family held hostage by Humphrey Bogart. The actress played the mother of Charlton Heston (nine years her junior) in two 50s Biblical epics, Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" (1955) and William Wyler's Oscar-winner "Ben-Hur" (1959). After an absence of a decade and a half, Scott returned to acting as a nun on board a distressed plane in the schlocky sequel "Airport 1975" (1975) and offered an astringent turn as a ballet company manager in Herbert Ross' "The Turning Point" (1977).

Scott began appearing on the small screen in the early 50s in such anthology series as "The Web" and "Teller of Tales". She hosted and narrated "Modern Romances" (NBC, 1954-58). For much of the 60s, she concentrated on stage work, making occasional guest appearances on shows ranging from "The F.B.I." to "Columbo". When she became more active in the 70s, it was often in character roles. Scott had the recurring role of Bob's mother on "The Bob Newhart Show" and also appeared as the mother of Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) on "Dallas" in 1979 and 1985. In the short-lived primetime soap "Secrets of Midland Heights" (1980-81), she was the matriarch of a wealthy but morally bankrupt family. In a fascinating episode of "Murder, She Wrote" in 1987, Scott, Jeffrey Lynn and Harry Morgan reprised their screen roles in 1949's "Strange Bargain". The plot presumed to find the real killer and incorporated scenes from the original film.

In addition to acting, Scott had a secondary career as a producer with both the (1978) Broadway and (1991) film versions of "First Monday in October", a comedy drama about the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. The former paired Henry Fonda and Jane Alexander, the latter Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Charlton Heston: For All Seasons (1995) Interviewee
2.
 Daughter of the Streets (1990) Sarah
3.
 Love and Betrayal (1989) Genger
5.
 Doin' Time on Planet Earth (1988) Virginia Camalier
6.
 Adam: His Song Continues (1986) Gram Walsh
7.
 Summer Girl (1983) Martina Shelburne
8.
 Adam (1983) Gram Walsh
9.
 Father Figure (1980) Hilda Wollman
10.
 Charleston (1979) Aunt Louisa; Mrs Farrell
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1933:
Made professional acting debut appearing in Shakespearean productions at the Chicago World's Fair
:
Worked as a radio actress on such serials as "The Career of Alice Blair" and "John's Other Wife"
1938:
Broadway debut as Emily in "Our Town"
1940:
Screen debut, reprising role as Emily in "Our Town"; earned Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination
:
Made early TV appearances on anthology shows like "Light's Out", "The Web" and "Revlon Mirror Theater"
:
Hosted and narrated the NBC anthology "Modern Romance"
1955:
Played Moses' mother in Cecil B DeMille's "The Ten Commandments"
1959:
Last feature for over a decade, "Ben-Hur"; played the title character's mother
1960:
Last TV appearance for over a decade, "You're Only Young Twice" (CBS)
1965:
Co-starred on Broadway in "The Subject Was Roses"; also appeared in the national tour
1969:
Helped form the Plumstead Playhouse production company
1972:
Returned to features providing a voice in the animated "Charlotte's Web"
:
Had recurring role as Bob's mother on "The Bob Newhart Show" (CBS) in the 1970s
1973:
Co-starred in the ABC TV-movie "The Devil's Daughter"
1975:
Acted in the all-star 'disaster' film "Airport 1975"
1978:
Was one of the producers of the Broadway play "First Monday in October"
1979:
Played recurring role of Patricia Shepard, mother of Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) on the CBS primetime soap "Dallas"
:
Was series regular on the short-lived CBS drama "Secrets of Midland Heights"
1981:
Co-produced the feature "First Monday in October"
1985:
Reprised her role as Patricia Shepard on "Dallas"
1987:
Was featured alongside former co-stars Jeffrey Lynn and Harry Morgan in an episode of the CBS drama series "Murder, She Wrote"; the actors recreated their roles from 1949's "Strange Bargain"
1988:
Final feature, "Doin' Time on Planet Earth"
1990:
Had last acting role in "Daughter of the Streets", an ABC TV-movie
:
Appeared in a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"
1993:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Michigan: Ann Arbor , Michigan -

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Carleton Alsop. Radio and film producer. Married 1940; marriage dissolved 1946.
husband:
Mel Powell. Composer, pianist. Married 1946; born February 12, 1923.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Walter Scott. Farmer, maintenance engineer.
mother:
Letha Scott. Second cousin of US President William McKinley.
daughter:
Kathleen Powell. Producer. Father Mel Powell.

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