George C. Scott

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George C. Scott
George C. Scott - publicity.JPG
Scott in The Hustler in 1961
George Campbell Scott

(1927-10-18)October 18, 1927
DiedSeptember 22, 1999(1999-09-22) (aged 71)
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Education Redford High School
Alma mater University of Missouri (B.A., 1953)
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
Years active1958–1999
  • Carolyn Hughes
    (m. 1951;div. 1955)
  • Patricia Reed
    (m. 1955;div. 1960)
  • (m. 1960;div. 1965)
  • Colleen Dewhurst
    (m. 1967;div. 1972)
  • (m. 1972)
Children7, including Devon and Campbell Scott

George Campbell Scott (October 18, 1927 – September 22, 1999) was an American 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 [lower-alpha 1] 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.

Early life

George Campbell Scott was born, the younger of two siblings, on October 18, 1927 on a kitchen table in the modest Wise, Virginia home of his parents, George Dewey Scott (1902–1988) and Helena Agnes (née Slemp; 1904–1935). [3] His maternal grandfather was a local jurist, Judge Campbell Slemp. [4] 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. [3]

After high school, Scott enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving from 1945-49. 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. [5] He later said that during his duty at Arlington, "[I] pick[ed] up a solid drinking habit that stayed with me from then on." [6]

Following military service, Scott enrolled in the University of Missouri on the G.I. Bill where he majored in journalism and then became interested in drama. [7] 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. [8]

Broadway and film career

Early performances

On stage as Richard III, 1958 George C. Scott - 1958.jpg
On stage as Richard III, 1958

Scott first rose to prominence for his work with Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. In 1958, he won an Obie Award for his performances in Children of Darkness [9] (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). [10]

Scott's Broadway debut was in Comes a Day (1958) which had a short run.[ citation needed ] 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's feature film debut was in The Hanging Tree (1959), starring Gary Cooper and Maria Schell.

Supporting roles

With Geraldine Page (1959) in a publicity still for People Kill People Sometimes George C. Scott - Geraldine Page - 1959.JPG
With Geraldine Page (1959) in a publicity still for People Kill People Sometimes

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"), Dow Hour of Great Mysteries , and a Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Winterset , originally written for the stage. 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. The play Great Day in the Morning (1962), in which he was directed by José Quintero, also had only a brief run.[ citation needed ]

Scott was in much demand for guest shots on TV shows, appearing in episodes of Ben Casey 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". He appeared opposite Laurence Olivier and Julie Harris in Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory in a 1961 television production [11] and also performed in The Merchant of Venice (1962) off-Broadway.


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. [12] Scott had a success during 1963 in an off-Broadway production of Desire Under the Elms .

Scott as General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove, 1964 Dr. Strangelove - General Buck Turgidson.png
Scott as General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove, 1964

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. [13] Scott was one of many stars in The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964).

Scott was cast, under the direction of John Huston in Dino de Laurentiis's The Bible: In the Beginning , which was released by 20th Century Fox in 1966. [14] Also in 1966, 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! (also 1966) and as John Proctor in a television version of The Crucible (1967).

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). He appeared in the made for television 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. [15]

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." [6] [16]

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; his then-wife Colleen Dewhurst said, "George thinks this is the only film award worth having". [17]

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 Award, 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 third and last wife. Scott had a big hit with The Hospital (1971) based on a script by Paddy Chayefksy; and The New Centurions (1972) directed by Flesicher based on a book by Joseph Wambaugh. 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 Van Devere.

Scott starred in Bank Shot (1974), directed by Gower Champion, which was a flop. So too was The Savage Is Loose (1974), which co-starred Van Devere and which he himself directed. Scott returned to television with Fear on Trial (1975); and starred in the big-budget disaster movie, The Hindenburg (1975) for director Robert Wise.

Return to theatre

Scott had a big Broadway hit with Neil Simon's Plaza Suite (1968), directed by Mike Nichols. 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. Scott directed a production of All God's Chillun Got Wings (1975) which starred Van Devere and only had a short run. He directed and played Willy Loman in a 1975 revival of Death of a Salesman , for which he garnered another Tony nomination.[ citation needed ]

Scott received a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Astrov in a 1973 revival of Uncle Vanya , directed by Nichols, which ran for 64 performances. Scott starred in a well-received production of Larry Gelbart's Sly Fox (1976; based on Ben Jonson's Volpone ), which ran 495 performances. Scott returned to Broadway for Tricks of the Trade in 1980 with Van Devere, but it ran for a single performance. However, a 1984 Broadway revival of Coward's Design for Living , which he directed, ran for 245 performances. In 1986, on Broadway, Scott did The Boys in Autumn in 1986. In 1993, he appeared off-Broadway successfully with Wrong Turn at Lungfish .

Television and supporting film roles

Scott appeared in a television production of Beauty and the Beast (1976), with Trish Van Devere. He later starred as an Ernest Hemingway-based artist in Islands in the Stream (1977) directed by Schaffner and based on Hemingway's posthumously published novel. 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 Changeling (1980), with Melvyn Douglas, John Colicos, Jean Marsh, and Van Devere, for which he received the Canadian Genie Award for Best Foreign Film Actor for his performance. [18] 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 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) on television, and in 1984, had a supporting role in Firestarter and portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in a television adaptation of A Christmas Carol . He was nominated for an Emmy Award for the role. Scott played the title role in the made-for-television-movie Mussolini: The Untold Story (1985).

On Influences:
I think I learned to act from people like James Cagney and Paul Muni. And I'm sure I learned more from Bette Davis than anyone. She has enormous presence, a sense of surprise. She sets you up like a great boxer and BAM! she gives you something else. She does have a certain consistent style, but when you examine her work you find enormous variety of color and intelligence.

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. [19]

On television, Scott did The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986) and Pals (1987; with Don Ameche). He also played the lead role in the TV series Mr. President (1987–88), which ran for 24 turbulent episodes. Scott starred in the television film The Ryan White Story (1989) as Charles Vaughan, the lawyer defending Ryan White. The following year, in 1990, he voiced two villainous roles: "Smoke" in the television special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue and "Percival McLeach" in the Disney film The Rescuers Down Under .


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). Scott had a starring role in Traps (1994) but the series only ran for five episodes. He also had a semi-regular role on another short-lived series New York News (1995). Around this time, Scott appeared in such feature films as The Whipping Boy (1994), Tyson (1995), and Angus (1995).

Final performances

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. [20] In 1996, he received an honorary Drama Desk Award for a lifetime devotion to theatre.

On the small screen, 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 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.[ citation needed ]

Scott had a reputation for being moody and mercurial while on the set. "There is no question you get pumped up by the recognition ... Then a self-loathing sets in when you realize you're enjoying it", he was quoted as saying. [21] 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." [22]

Personal life

Scott's unmarked grave George C. Scott grave at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Brentwood, California.JPG
Scott's unmarked grave

Scott was married five times:

  1. Carolyn Hughes (m. 1951–1955); one daughter, Victoria, born December 19, 1952.
  2. Patricia Reed (m. 1955–1960); two children: Matthew – born May 27, 1957, and actress Devon Scott – born November 29, 1958.
  3. 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."
  4. He and Dewhurst remarried on July 4, 1967, but divorced for a second time on February 2, 1972.
  5. 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),[ citation needed ] with Karen Truesdell.[ who? ]


In 1982, Scott appeared in a campaign commercial for moderate Republican U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker of Connecticut. [23] Like Weicker, Scott was, at that time, a resident of Greenwich, Connecticut. Scott identified politically as a moderate conservative and supported the death penalty. [24]

Illness and death

Scott suffered a series of heart attacks in the 1980s. [25] He died on September 22, 1999, aged 71, of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. [20] 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. [26]

Partial filmography

1958 The DuPont Show of the Month JacquesEpisode: "A Tale of Two Cities"
1959 The Hanging Tree George Grubb
The United States Steel Hour Asst. State Atty. Gen. Claude DancerEpisode: "Trap for a Stranger"
Anatomy of a Murder Claude DancerNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1961 The Hustler Bert GordonNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Ben Casey Dr. Karl AndersEpisode: "I Remember a Lemon Tree"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
The Power and the Glory Police lieutenantTV movie
1962 Naked City Kermit GarrisonEpisode: "Strike a Statue"
1962 The Virginian Arthur LillyEpisode: "The Brazen Bell"
1963 The List of Adrian Messenger Anthony Gethyrn
1963–64 East Side/West Side Neil Brock26 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
1964 Dr. Strangelove General Buck Turgidson
The Yellow Rolls-Royce Paolo Maltese
1966 The Bible: In the Beginning Abraham
Not with My Wife, You Don't! "Tank" Martin
1967The CrucibleJohn ProctorTV movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
The Flim-Flam Man Mordecai Jones
1968 Petulia Dr. Archie BollenNominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1969This Savage LandJud BarkerTV movie
1970 Patton General George S. Patton, Jr. Academy Award for Best Actor (Refused)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Laurel Award for Best Dramatic Performance, Male
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Jane Eyre Edward RochesterTV movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1971 The Price (play) Victor Franz Hallmark Hall of Fame
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
They Might Be Giants Justin Playfair/"Sherlock Holmes"Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (also for The Hospital )
The Last Run Harry GarmesAlso starred Colleen Dewhurst and Trish Van Devere
The Hospital Dr. Herbert BockNominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (also for They Might Be Giants )
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1972 The New Centurions Kilvinski
Rage Dan LoganAlso directed
1973 Oklahoma Crude Noble Mason
The Day of the Dolphin Dr. Jake Terrell
1974 Bank Shot Walter Upjohn Ballentine
The Savage Is Loose JohnAlso directed
1975 The Hindenburg Colonel Franz Ritter
1976 Beauty and the Beast The BeastTV movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1977 Islands in the Stream Thomas Hudson
Crossed Swords Ruffler
1978 Movie Movie Gloves Malloy/Spats BaxterNominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1979 Hardcore Jake Van Dorn
1980 The Changeling John Russell Fantafestival Award for Best Actor
Genie Award for Best Performance by a Foreign Actor
The Formula Lt. Barney Caine
1981 Taps Brigadier General Harlan Bache
1982 Oliver Twist FaginTV movie
1984 Firestarter John Rainbird
A Christmas Carol Ebenezer ScroogeTV movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1985 Mussolini: The Untold Story Benito Mussolini TV movie
1986 The Last Days of Patton General George S. Patton, Jr.TV movie
The Murders in the Rue Morgue C. Auguste Dupin
1987PalsJack H. Stobbs
John Livingston Spangler
TV movie
1987–88 Mr. President President Samuel Arthur Tresch24 episodes
1989 The Ryan White Story Charles Vaughan, Sr.
1990 Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue SmokeVoice
Made for video
The Exorcist III KindermanNominated—Razzie Award for Worst Actor
The Rescuers Down Under Percival McLeachVoice
Descending Angel Florian Stroia
1993CuraçaoCornelius Wettering
Malice Dr. Martin Kessler
1994 Traps Joe Trapcheck5 episodes
The Whipping Boy Blind George
1995 Tyson Cus D'Amato
Angus Grandpa Ivan
1996 Titanic Captain Edward J. SmithTV miniseries
1997 Country Justice Clayton HayesTV movie
12 Angry Men Juror No. 3TV movie
CableACE Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
1999 Gloria Ruby
Rocky Marciano Pierino MarchegianoTV movie
Inherit the Wind Matthew Harrison BradyTV movie
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie, (final film role)


  1. Earlier, at the 8th Academy Awards in 1936, screenwriter Dudley Nichols won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Informer , but refused to accept it until the Academy officially recognized the Screen Writers Guild. [1] Nichols later accepted the award at the 1938 Oscar ceremony. [2]

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Ellis W. Rabb was an American actor and director who in 1959 formed the Association of Producing Artists, a theatre company that brought new works and noteworthy revivals to Broadway and to regional theatres. The APA merged with the Phoenix Theatre in 1964 and as the APA-Phoenix went on to mount Broadway revivals of Man and Superman, The Show Off, Right You Are If You Think You Are, and Hamlet among others, with the APA-Phoenix receiving a special Tony Award for distinguished achievement prior to disbanding in 1969.

<i>The Last Run</i> 1971 film by Richard Fleischer

The Last Run is a 1971 action film shot in Portugal, Málaga and elsewhere in Spain directed by Richard Fleischer, starring George C. Scott, Tony Musante, Trish Van Devere, and Colleen Dewhurst.

Kathleen Cody (actress) American actress

Kathleen Cody, often credited as Kathy Cody, is an American actress. She is best known for her role as the characters Hallie Stokes and Carrie Stokes, on the television series Dark Shadows, appearing from June 1970 through April 1971. Her career in film and television lasted over 30 years.


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