"I became an actor to escape my own personality. Acting is the most therapeutic thing in the world... I think all the courage that I may lack personally I have as an actor."
— George C. Scott, quoted in Life Magazine, March 8, 1968 note
Legendary American actor George C. Scott (October 18, 1927 — September 22, 1999) is best remembered for his portrayal of General George S. Patton
and his eccentric aversion to the Academy Awards
. He was nominated four times in his career. Twice, he rejected the nominations without being successful. The one time he won the Award for Patton
, he famously refused to attend the ceremony.
Modern audiences and critics, including Roger Ebert
, continue to hold in high regard several of Scott's performances. He is frequently counted among the finest actors of all time
A select filmography includes:
Scott's fame in Hollywood was matched by his renown on the stage
, where he was prolific not only as an actor but also as a director. He received five Tony nominations over a span of 38 years for his performances in "Comes a Day" (1958), "The Andersonville Trial" (1959), "Uncle Vanya
" (1974), "Death of a Salesman
" (1975), and "Inherit the Wind
" (1996). He also directed the 1970 TV adaptation of "The Andersonville Trial", which won three Primetime Emmy Awards.
However, Scott failed to make a mark as a film director: neither Rage
(1971) nor The Savage is Loose
(1974) was well received. Also overlooked today is his performance as social worker Neil Brock in the avant garde 1963-'64 TV Series East Side/West Side
, which was one of the first to feature a regular black cast member
An alcoholic with a violent temper, Scott had a long-standing reputation as being one of Hollywood's "Bad Boys", although he mellowed considerably with age. Scott was married five times to four different women: Carolyn Hughes (1951-1955), Patricia Reed (1955-1960), Colleen Dewhurst (1960-1965, 1967-1972) and Trish Van Devere (1972-1999). On September 22, 1999, he died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm at the age of 71.
- Academy Awards: Award Snub inverted. Scott snubbed the Academy Awards.
- The Ace: Even Roger Ebert was an admirer of his acting.
- A Broken Ace? His alcoholism, bad temper and history of brief marriages might qualify him as one of these. Defied eventually when he pulled his act together and remained more or less happily married to Trish Van Devere for the last twenty-seven years of his life.
- Brutal Honesty: One of his trademarks in Real Life.
- Cleopatra Nose: Scott's nose◊ acquired its distinctive (but far from unattractive) shape as the result of being broken five times in bar brawls.
- Cultural Rebel: He belonged to the vanguard generation of New Hollywood.
- Defeat Means Friendship: It is rumoured that Scott and Stanley Kubrick had many disagreements on the set of Dr. Strangelove over the characterisation of Gen. Buck Turgidson. Kubrick won Scott's compliance and respect after beating him in a game of chess.note
- Divorce Is Temporary: Subverted. He remarried Colleen Dewhurst after two years of divorce and subsequently re-divorced her.
- Doing It for the Art: That seems to have been his reason for acting in the controversial 1979 film, Hardcore.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Began drinking heavily during his time as a lecturer at the Marine Corps Insitute. Part of his duties as a Marine included having to arrange the funeral details of fellow Marines, which he found depressing.
- Guttural Growler: Adds an element of badass to pretty much all of his characters. This was averted in Anatomy of a Murder, where his character Assistant Attorney-General Claude Dancer has a mellow voice...and makes up for it by being twice as lethal as the average badass.
- Hidden Depths: For all his jerkassery, he was surprisingly self-analytical and cogent in articulating deep thoughts (see the Quotes subpage).
- Internalized Categorism: Here's a sample of his attitude towards his own celebrity status:
"There's no question you get pumped up by the recognition. Then a self-loathing sets in when you realize you're enjoying it."
- Jerkass: Reputed to have been one in his early acting years. He took a level in kindness and eventually became quite a nice guy.
- Large Ham: More so in his later years.
- Money, Dear Boy: He once said that the only reason he kept acting in films after the early 1970s was so that he could pay alimony to his three ex-wives and support his six children from the previous relationships. His real passion was the theatre.
- Mysterious Middle Initial: If you refer to him simply as "George Scott", or by his full name, "George Campbell Scott", your listeners won't recognise him. The un-elucidated "C" is an integral part of Scott's identity.
- Pet the Dog: Loved dogs, especially German shepherds. He and his bodyguard nursed a family pet back to health after it was accidentally poisoned during a film shoot. One interviewer wrote of him:
"Watching him with animals, you can see that he is a gentle man. A sour green apple with a soft core, hounded by the furies all his life."
- Rated M for Manly: He did not have an impressive physique but more than compensated for this through his guttural voice, volatile temper, and the unflinching and incisive quality that he brought to his iconic performances. Suffice to say, he would be horribly miscast in a Chick Flick.
- Reaction Shot: Scott's tortured screams of "turn it off" in the 1979 film Hardcore have been mashed up numerous times with artistic performances that are so bad they're good. The result? Videos like these.
- Real-Life Relative: Scott and his wife, Trish Van Devere, co-starred in six films, the most notable of these being the 1980 horror classic, The Changeling. Previously, Scott had also acted in several plays with his then wife, Colleen Dewhurst.
- Self Harm: He once smashed his hand against a greenroom window in a drunken rage and then performed in the final act of the play dripping blood through a glove. The cut required 22 stitches afterwards.
- Star-Making Role: Gen. Buck Turgidson, before it was eclipsed in history by Gen. George S. Patton.
- Would Hit a Girl: Allegedly beat his co-star and then girlfriend, glamorous Hollywood "Bad Girl" Ava Gardner, during the filming of The Bible: In the Beginning (1966).
- Writer's Block: Wanted to be an author but never finished writing a novel to his own satisfaction. However, that might explain his articulateness, mentioned above.
- Younger than They Look: True throughout his career. Notably, he played a 60-year-old Patton when he was 42, and a 70 plus Scrooge when he was 57. His alcoholism may have been responsible for his older appearance.
- You Won't Like Me When I'm Angry: A common trait of several of his characters. Also true in his real life, at least early on. According to Director Mike Nichols, "Everyone is scared of George C. Scott."