George C Scott
A gruff, commanding lead, George C Scott has turned in impressive performances on stage, screen and TV since the 1950s, but is best remembered for his 1970 portrayal of "Patton" (and for refusing his Best Actor Oscar).
Born in Virginia and raised in Detroit, Scott spent four years in the Marines and another four in college. He married, got a teaching job, and did not start acting until his early 30s. After a long apprenticeship in regional and summer stock productions, Scott took New York by storm in 1957 with his venomous portrayal of "Richard III" with New York Shakespeare Festival. He appeared in scores of plays over the next few years, including "The Andersonville Trial", "The Little Foxes", "Plaza Suite" and "The Merchant of Venice".
Scott made his film debut, supporting Gary Cooper, as a religious maniac in "The Hanging Tree" (1959). Raspy-voiced, with a many-times fractured nose and an explosive manner, Scott proved a riveting screen presence in some 27 films through 1980. Some, of course, have been better than others, his high points being powerful turns as the sardonic prosecuting attorney in "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959), the hard-boiled manager in "The Hustler" (1963), the comically mad general in "Dr. Strangelove" (1964), the empty-hearted surgeon in "The Hospital" (1971) and several roles in the parody "Movie Movie" (1978). A reluctant star, he caused a furor by refusing to accept his Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the crusty title character in "Patton" (1970). Scott's film career slowed down in the 1980s as his health declined, though he has continued to appear in occasional features ("Beastmaster" 1982, "Firestarter" 1984, "Malice" 1993, "Angus" 1995).
While Scott has directed two films ("Rage" 1972, and "The Savage Is Loose" 1975), he has won far greater acclaim as a stage director, directing himself in a harrowing performance as Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman" (1975), in Larry Gelbart's farce "Sly Fox" (1976), in Noel Coward's comedy "Present Laughter" (1982) and co-starring with Charles Durning in a 1996 revival of "Inherit the Wind".
Scott's TV career began back in the 1950s with appearances on "Playhouse 90" (CBS) and the TV-movie "Winterset" (NBC, 1959). He co-starred in three short-lived series, the social worker drama "East Side/West Side" (CBS, 1963-64), the comedy "Mr. President" (Fox, 1987-88) and the detective show "Traps" (CBS, 1994). But Scott was shown to much better advantage in his more than 20 TV-movies. He portrayed Henry Wotton in "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (CBS, 1961), Mr. Rochester in "Jane Eyre" (NBC, 1971), lawyer Louis Nizer in "Fear on Trial" (CBS, 1975), Fagin in "Oliver Twist" (CBS, 1982), Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" (CBS, 1984), the title character in "Mussolini: The Untold Story" (NBC, 1985), a boxing trainer in "Tyson" (HBO, 1995) and even reprised his most famous character in "The Last Days of Patton" (CBS, 1986).
Scott's private life has been almost as colorful as some of the characters he has played: the blunt-spoken and controversial actor was twice married to and divorced from imposing actress Colleen Dewhurst; one of their two sons is actor Campbell Scott. Married to actress Trish Van Devere since 1972, Scott also dallied with "The Bible" co-star Ava Gardner in the mid-1960s.