George C. Scott dead at 71
Thursday, September 23rd 1999, 12:00 am
News On 6
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- George C. Scott, whose eagle profile and
gravel-voiced, commanding air brought life to Gen. George S. Patton
and earned him an Oscar he refused to accept, has died. He was 71.
Scott died Wednesday at his home in Westlake Village, about 40
miles northwest of Los Angeles, said Pat Mahoney, the wife of
She said today she didn't know the cause of death.
"They just found him and are trying to find out what
happened," she said. "He was on again, off again for a while. He
The answering service for the Ventura County Coroner's office
confirmed Scott had died but had no other information. The coroner
planned to release a statement this morning, Sheriff's Sgt. Paul
Scott captivated audiences in roles ranging from the dangerously
explosive, yet sympathetic Patton in 1970 to the fatuous blowhard
Gen. Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 classic "Dr.
The two were opposite ends of a spectrum of memorable film
characters: the shark on the sidelines who tries to devour Paul
Newman in "The Hustler"; the high-powered ringer brought in to
steamroller small-town lawyer James Stewart in "Anatomy of a
Murder"; the dedicated doctor ground down by red tape and
institutional incompetence in "The Hospital."
For all his success in motion pictures, Scott disdained
moviemaking, saying it was tedious and he did it only for the
"I have to work in the theater to stay sane," he said. "You
can attack the stage fresh every night."
When Scott rose from a sickbed at age 68 to star in the 1996
Broadway revival of "Inherit the Wind," one critic said it was
like watching a horse buggy powered by a Ferrari engine.
In private life, Scott was for years a bellicose drinker whose
profile was marked by a nose broken five times, in four barroom
brawls and one mugging. He was married five times -- twice to the
same woman, actress Colleen Dewhurst.
When Scott played in "Plaza Suite" in 1968, co-star Maureen
Stapleton reportedly told director Mike Nichols at rehearsal, "I'm
so frightened of George, I don't know what to do."
"My dear," Nichols replied, "the whole world is frightened of
Scott was born in Wise, Va., on Oct. 18, 1927, but grew up in
Detroit. He joined the Marines in 1945, too late for action in
World War II, and spent his four years in service burying the dead
at Arlington by day and boozing at night.
"You can't look at that many widows in veils and hear that many
`Taps' without taking to drink," he said.
He left journalism school in 1950 without a degree and threw
himself into acting, spending seven years performing more than 100
roles with stock companies in Toledo, Ohio; Washington and Ontario,
His breakthrough came when he was 30 years old and caught the
eye of Joseph Papp, impresario of the New York Shakespeare
In rapid succession, the unknown Scott played the title role in
"Richard III" in November 1957, Jacques in "As You Like It" in
January 1958 and a poisoning peer in the off-Broadway "Children of
Darkness" in March 1958.
For his work in all three productions he received the
off-Broadway best actor Obie and a Theatre World award as a
"promising personality." For the Shakespeare performances, he won
a Clarence Derwent Award as most promising actor and a Vernon Rice
Award for contribution to off-Broadway theater.
Later in 1958, his Broadway debut in "Comes a Day" earned the
first of his four Tony Award nominations. The others were for "The
Andersonville Trial" in 1959, "Uncle Vanya" in 1974 and "Death
of a Salesman," which he also directed, in 1975.
In his career, he also won a second Obie, two television Emmys
out of five nominations and was nominated for Oscars four times.
His film debut came in 1959, as a charismatic loony who stirs up
a lynch mob against Gary Cooper in "The Hanging Tree."
The same year, "Anatomy of a Murder" brought his first Academy
Award nomination. He said nothing about it.
When he was nominated again in 1962 for "The Hustler" he wired
the academy "no thanks." The academy did not withdraw his name,
but he didn't win.
Scott said later he didn't think he'd be nominated again and
regretted only that "I wasn't able to shock the academy into doing
something constructive" about what he viewed as a meaningless
The academy ignored his withdrawal again in 1970 and gave Scott
the best-actor Oscar, to go along with Golden Globe and New York
Film Critics honors, for "Patton." As the film collected seven
Academy Awards, Scott spent the evening watching hockey.
His last nomination was for "The Hospital" in 1971.
He won Emmys for directing "The Andersonville Trial" on PBS in
1970 and acting in "The Price" on the Hallmark Hall of Fame in
1971. He also was a nominee for acting in Hallmark's 1976 "Beauty
and the Beast."
Early marriages to Carolyn Hughes and Patricia Reed produced two
daughters, Victoria and Devon, and a son, Matthew. Scott also
acknowledged a child born out of wedlock during his school years.
He met Dewhurst when they appeared together in "Children of
Darkness" and they were married in 1960, divorced in 1965,
remarried in 1967 and divorced in 1972. They had two sons,
Alexander and Campbell. He married actress Trish Van Devere in