Nationality: American. Born: George Campbell Scott in Wise, Virginia, 18 October 1927; grew up in Detroit. Education: Attended Redford High School, Detroit; University of Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia to 1953. Military Service: 1945–49—served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Family: Married 1) Carolyn Hughes (divorced); 2) the actress Patricia Reed (divorced); 3) the actress Colleen Dewhurst, 1960 (divorced 1965; remarried 1967, divorced 1972), sons: Alexander and the actor Campbell; also four other children; 4) the actress Trish Van Devere, 1972. Career: 1953–57—actor in stock in Toledo, Washington, D.C., and Ontario, while working as laborer and clerk; 1957—New York stage role in Richard III in Joseph Papp's Shakespeare Festival season brought critical recognition; later stage work includes roles in Comes a Day on Broadway, 1958, The Andersonville Trial , 1959, The Merchant of Venice , 1962, and The Three Sisters in London, 1965; 1959—film
The Hanging Tree (Daves) (as Dr. George Grubb); Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger) (as Claude Dancer)
The Hustler (Rossen) (as Bert Gordon)
The List of Adrian Messenger (Huston) (as Anthony Gethryn)
Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick) (as Gen. "Buck" Turgidson)
The Yellow Rolls Royce (Asquith) (as Paolo Maltese)
La Bibbia ( The Bible . . . in the Beginning ; The Bible ) (Huston) (as Abraham); Not with My Wife You Don't! (Panama) (as Tank Martin); This Savage Land ( The Road West ) (McEveety—for TV, released theatrically in 1969) (as Jud Barker)
The Flim-Flam Man ( One Born Every Minute ) (Kershner) (as Mordecai)
Petulia (Lester) (as Archie Bollen)
Patton ( Patton: Lust for Glory ) (Schaffner) (title role)
They Might Be Giants (Harvey) (as Justin Playfair/Sherlock Holmes); Jane Eyre (Delbert Mann—for TV) (as Edward Rochester); The Last Run (Fleischer) (as Harry Garmes); The Hospital (Hiller) (as Dr. Herbert Bock)
The New Centurions (Fleischer) (as Sgt. Kilvinski)
Oklahoma Crude (Kramer) (as Noble Mason); The Day of the Dolphin (Mike Nichols) (as Dr. Jake Terrell)
Bank Shot (Champion) (as Walter Upjohn Ballantine)
The Hindenberg (Wise) (as Col. Ritter); Fear on Trial (Johnson—for TV) (as Louis Nizer)
Beauty and the Beast (Cook—for TV)
Islands in the Stream (Schaffner) (as Thomas Hudson)
Crossed Swords ( The Prince and the Pauper ) (Fleischer) (as the Ruffler); Movie Movie (Donen) (as Gloves Malloy/Spats Baxter)
Hardcore ( The Hardcore Life ) (Schrader) (as Jake Van Dorn); Arthur Miller on Home Ground (Rasky)
The Formula (Avildsen) (as Barney Caine); The Changeling (Medak) (as John Russell)
Taps (Harold Becker) (as Gen. Harlan Bache)
Oliver Twist (Clive Donner—for TV) (as Fagin)
China Rose (Day—for TV)
A Christmas Carol (Clive Donner—for TV) (as Ebenezer Scrooge); Firestarter (Lester) (as John Rainbird)
The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt (Engle—doc) (as narrator)
Choices (Rich—for TV); The Last Days of Patton (Delbert Mann—for TV) (title role); The Murders in the Rue Morgue (Szwarc—for TV) (as Auguste Dupin)
Pals (Antonio—for TV) (as Jack Stobbs)
The Ryan White Story (Herzfeld—for TV)
Descending Angel (Kagan—for TV) (as Florian Stroia); The Exorcist III ( The Exorcist III: Legion ) (Blatty) (as Lt. Kinderman); The Curse of the Starving Class (Masterson); The Rescuers Down Under (Butoy—animation) (as voice of Percival McLeach)
Finding the Way Home (Holcomb—for TV) (as Max Mittelmann)
Curacao (Carl Schultz—for TV); Malice (Harold Becker) (as Dr. Kessler)
In the Heat of the Night: A Matter of Justice (Badiyi—for TV) (as Judge Walker); The Whipping Boy (Macartney—for TV) (as Blind George)
Angus (Patrick Read Johnson) (as Ivan); Tyson (Edel—for TV) (as Cus D'Amato); New York News: Cost of Living (Apted, Bender—series for TV) (as Ollie Herman); New York News: Yankee Glory (Apted, Bender—series for TV) (as Ollie Herman)
Titanic (Lieberman—for TV) (as Captain Smith)
Country Justice ( Family Rescue ) (Campbell—for TV) (as Clayton); 12 Angry Men (Friedkin—for TV) (as Juror #3)
Gloria (Lumet) (as Ruby); Rocky Marciano (Charles Winkler—for TV) (as Pierino Marchegiano); Inherit the Wind (Petrie—for TV) (as Matthew Harrison Brady)
The Andersonville Trial (for TV)
Rage (+ ro as Dan Logan)
The Savage Is Loose (+ pr, ro as John)
"Rage," interview in Action (Los Angeles), January-February 1973.
"What Directors Are Saying," in Action (Los Angeles), January-February 1974.
"George C. Scott/Trish Van Devere Seminar," in Dialogue on Film (Beverly Hills), January 1975 (also released in booklet form).
Interview in Playboy (Chicago), December 1980.
Harbinson, Allen, George C. Scott: The Man, The Actor, The Legend , New York, 1977.
Current Biography 1971 , New York, 1971.
Reed, Rex, "George C. Scott," in The Movie Star , edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.
Obituary, in Variety (New York), 1999.
Short, Stephen, "Milestones," obituary in Time International , 4 October 1999.
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George C. Scott was one of the most powerful of American actors, and he often played characters who were unique, individualistic, intense, and sometimes angry in films with such forceful titles as Rage , Crossed Swords , Bank Shot , Not with My Wife You Don't! , They Might Be Giants , The Savage Is Loose , Firestarter , and Malice . It is almost too easy to classify him as an "angry man," for some of his most memorable moments in films were when he exhibited extreme rage: slapping a soldier as Patton ( Patton ), glaring at a slum landlord as a Los Angeles policeman ( The New Centurions ), smashing up a pornographic headquarters as an angry father ( Hardcore ). But he could also show great tenderness on the screen, which can be clearly seen in many of the above-mentioned films and especially in The Day of the Dolphin and Petulia . He also had a great flair for comedy. Two of his most famous comic roles are General "Buck" Turgidson ( Dr. Strangelove ) and the flim-flam man ( The Flim-Flam Man ). Whether it is in a title role ( Patton ) or in a brief appearance ( Malice ), with his rasping voice, piercing eyes, and chiseled features, he created characters who were believable, multidimensional, and exciting.
Scott began in the theater, but from the beginning and throughout his career, he divided his acting choices between stage, film, and television. One of his early roles in film that brought acclaim was as gambler/manager Bert Gordon opposite Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, and Piper Laurie in The Hustler (1961), where he brought just the right blend of menace, cruelty, and charm to the morality tale of an eager pool player. His roles necessarily changed as he aged. He moved from playing a divorced father (Archie Bollen) with young children in Petulia (1968) to a father (Jake Van Dorn) with a runaway daughter in Hardcore (1979) to a grandfather (Ivan) with an adult daughter and grandson in Angus (1995). Even in the short-lived 1994 television series Traps he played Joseph Trapcheck, the grandfather of three generations of police detectives.
Although his roles included several soldiers, doctors, and police detectives, including a character who thought he was Sherlock Holmes ( They Might Be Giants ), his work cannot be stereotyped. He was just as comfortable playing the rogue Fagin ( Oliver Twist for television) or a music composer ( The Changeling ).
What may account for Scott's staying power as an actor for so many years was his three-dimensional qualities. He was often cast in very masculine, assertive roles, and to these and his other roles he brought a depth of feeling which could touch an audience deeply. For example, he played General George S. Patton (probably his most well-known characterization) in two films, Patton (1970), directed by Franklin Schaffner, and The Last Days of Patton (1986), directed for television by Delbert Mann. Scott had to play much of the latter film lying in bed, as Patton had broken his neck in an automobile accident. The camera is in close on him in many shots, and Scott runs through a range of emotions which convey to the viewer Patton's sadness, anger, sentimentality, and courage. It is a remarkable performance, considering that earlier in the film Scott showed his usual toughness in sparring with his superiors and his ability to do comedy by singing a silly song.
Though Scott worked with some of the best Hollywood directors and actors, he never fit the typical Hollywood stereotype and always had an independent spirit. For example, he turned down the Academy Award for best actor in Patton . He fought with the program practices department of CBS in order to obtain more realism for his television series East Side, West Side . He opposed the rating given the excellent film he produced, directed, and starred in, The Savage Is Loose . Being so outspoken, he was sometimes called difficult, but he was always the professional. He aged well, and provided a series of original and memorable performances throughout his career.
—H. Wayne Schuth