Martha Scott


Actor
Martha Scott

About

Also Known As
Martha Ellen Scott
Birth Place
Jamesport, Missouri, USA
Born
September 22, 1912
Died
May 28, 2003
Cause of Death
Natural Causes

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 f...

Family & Companions

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

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 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.

Life Events

1933

Made professional acting debut appearing in Shakespearean productions at the Chicago World's Fair

1938

Broadway debut as Emily in "Our Town"

1940

Screen debut, reprising role as Emily in "Our Town"; earned Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination

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"

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"

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

1993

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Videos

Movie Clip

One Foot In Heaven (1941) - The Mice Smother In The Dust At their first parsonage in Iowa, Canadian minister William Spence (Fredric March) and his bride Hope (Martha Scott), who stayed with him when he gave up his promising medical career, lament their reduced circumstances, in the biography based on the book by Spence’s son, One Foot In Heaven. 1941.
One Foot In Heaven (1941) - Whither Thou Goest Ontario, 1904, doctor-in-training Bill Spence (Fredric March) has just interrupted his fianceè (Martha Scott) and her parents (Ernest Cossart, Nana Bryant) savoring the newspaper announcement of their engagement with news of a change of plans, in the fact-based biography One Foot In Heaven, 1941.
One Foot In Heaven (1941) - The Silent Man Iowa, 1917, Methodist minister Spence (Fredric March) attends the William S. Hart picture The Silent Man with his son, intending to illustrate how the medium is harmful to his character, only to be won over by the wholesome story, another fact-based incident in Warner Bros.’One Foot In Heaven. 1941.
Our Town (1940) - The Way A Person's Born Frank Craven narrates into Martha Scott's first movie scene, as Emily, daughter of Charlie (Guy Kibbee), waylaid by smitten George (William Holden), and William Cameron Menzies' vision of Grover's Corners, NH, replacing the empty set from Thornton Wilder's play, early in Our Town, 1940.
Howards Of Virginia, The (1940) - Labor In The Fields Surveyor and commoner Matt Howard (Cary Grant) at work in 1760's Virginia, visited by Jane (Martha Scott) who thought him more high-born, then complaining to her father, friend Tom Jefferson and brother (Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Richard Carlson, Alan Marshal), in The Howards Of Virginia, 1940.
Sayonara (1957) - Insolence Through Manner Yamashiro's restaurant in the Hollywood Hills as an officer's club in Kobe, Japan, Major Gruver (Marlon Brando) arriving with fiancee` (Patricia Owens), her dad the general (Kent Smith) dealing with Captain Bailey (James Garner) and Japanese girlfriend, early in Joshua Logan's Sayonara, 1957.
Ben-Hur (1959) - New Governor Tirzah (Cathy O’Donnell) knocks loose a roof tile as the governor enters Jerusalem, causing Messala (Stephen Boyd) to arrest her, Judah (Charlton Heston) and Miriam (Martha Scott) in Ben-Hur, 1959.

Trailer

Family

Walter Scott
Father
Farmer, maintenance engineer.
Letha Scott
Mother
Second cousin of US President William McKinley.
Kathleen Powell
Daughter
Producer. Father Mel Powell.

Companions

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

Bibliography