Handsome leading man who developed into one of Hollywood's greatest and most popular western stars. Born (January 23, 1898) to George and Lucy Crane Scott during a visit to Orange County, Virginia, Scott was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina in a wealthy family. He attended Georgia Institute of Technology but, after being injured playing football, transferred to the University of North Carolina, from which he graduated with a degree in textile engineering and manufacturing. He discovered acting and went to California, where he met Howard Hughes, who obtained an audition for him for Cecil B. DeMille's Dynamite (1929), a role which went instead to Joel McCrea. He was hired to coach Gary Cooper in a Virginia dialect for The Virginian (1929) and played a bit part in the film. Paramount scouts saw him in a play and offered him a contract.
Scott became a leading man in the mid-1930's with such movies as ''She,'' ''The Last Round-Up,'' ''The Last of the Mohicans,'' ''High, Wide and Handsome'' and ''Jesse James.'' He also appeared in such musicals as ''Roberta'' and ''Follow the Fleet,'' both with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, as well as in such screwball comedies as ''My Favorite Wife'' with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant.
He met Cary Grant, another Paramount contract player, on the set of Hot Saturday (1932) and immediately moved in together. Their on-and-off living arrangement would last until 1942. Scott married and divorced wealthy heiress Marion DuPont in the late 1930's. He moved into leading roles at Paramount, although his easy-going charm was not enough to indicate the tremendous success that would come to him later.
He was a pleasant figure in comedies, dramas and the occasional adventure, but it was not until he began focusing on westerns in the late 1940s that he reached his greatest stardom.
During World War II and after, Mr. Scott portrayed military heroes in such films as ''Corvette K-225,'' ''Bombardier,'' ''Gung Ho!'' and ''China Sky.'' His screen persona altered into that of a stoic, craggy, and uncompromising figure, a tough, hard-bitten man seemingly unconnected to the light comedy lead he had been in the 1930s.
But his most lasting career was in westerns. He starred in about two dozen, including ''Santa Fe,'' ''Fort Worth,'' ''Man in the Saddle,'' ''Man Behind the Gun,'' ''Ten Wanted Men,'' ''Ride Lonesome'' and ''Comanche Station.'' One of his films, ''Sugarfoot,'' became a television series starring Will Hutchins. Laconic On and Off Screen.
He became one of the top box office stars of the 1950s and, in the westerns of Budd Boetticher especially, a critically important figure in the western as an art form. Following a critically acclaimed, less-heroic-than-usual role in one of the classics of the genre, Ride the High Country (1962),
Scott retired from films. A multimillionaire as a result of canny investments, Scott spent his remaining years playing golf and avoiding film industry affairs, stating that he didn't like publicity. He died, March 2, 1987 at age 89. Scott is survived by his second wife, Patricia Stillman, and his two adopted children, Christopher and Sandra. He is buried in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Detailed Bio (Wikipedia)
Randolph Scott (January 23, 1898 – March 2, 1987) was an American film actor whose career spanned from 1928 to 1962. As a leading man for all but the first three years of his cinematic career, Scott appeared in a variety of genres, including social dramas, crime dramas, comedies, musicals (albeit in non-singing and non-dancing roles), adventure tales, war films, and even a few horror and fantasy films. However, his most enduring image is that of the tall-in-the-saddle Western hero. Out of his more than 100 film appearances more than 60 were in Westerns; thus, "of all the major stars whose name was associated with the Western, Scott most closely identified with it.
Scott's more than 30 years as a motion picture actor resulted in his working with many acclaimed screen directors, including Henry King, Rouben Mamoulian, Michael Curtiz, John Cromwell, King Vidor, Allan Dwan, Fritz Lang, and Sam Peckinpah. He also worked on multiple occasions with prominent directors: Henry Hathaway (eight times), Ray Enright (seven), Edwin R. Marin (seven), André de Toth (six), and most notably, his seven film collaborations with Budd Boetticher. Scott also worked with a diverse array of cinematic leading ladies, from Shirley Temple and Irene Dunne to Mae West and Marlene Dietrich.
Tall (6 ft 2.5 in; 189 cm), lanky, and handsome, Scott displayed an easygoing charm and courtly Southern drawl in his early films that helped offset his limitations as an actor, where he was frequently found to be stiff or "lumbering". As he matured, however, Scott's acting improved while his features became burnished and leathery, turning him into the ideal "strong, silent" type of stoic hero. The BFI Companion to the Western noted: In his earlier Westerns ... the Scott persona is debonair, easy-going, graceful, though with the necessary hint of steel. As he matures into his fifties his roles change. Increasingly Scott becomes the man who has seen it all, who has suffered pain, loss, and hardship, and who has now achieved (but at what cost?) a stoic calm proof against vicissitude.
During the early 1950s, Scott was a consistent box-office draw. In the annual Motion Picture Herald Top Ten Polls, he ranked 10th in 1950, eighth in 1951, and again 10th in 1952. Scott also appeared in the Quigley's Top Ten Money Makers Poll from 1950 to 1953.
George Randolph Scott was born in Orange County, Virginia, but reared in Charlotte, North Carolina, the second of six children born to parents of Scottish-American descent. His father was George Grant Scott, born in Franklin, Virginia, an administrative engineer in a textile firm. His mother was Lucille Crane Scott, born in Luray, Virginia, a member of a wealthy North Carolina family. The Scott children in order of birth were: Margaret, Randolph, Katherine, Virginia, Joseph and Barbara, most born in North Carolina.
Because of his family's financial status, young Randolph was able to attend private schools such as Woodberry Forest School. From an early age, Scott developed and displayed an athletic trait, excelling in football, baseball, horse racing, and swimming
In April 1917, the United States entered World War I and shortly afterwards, Scott, then 19 years old, joined the United States Army. He served in France as an artillery observer with the 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion, 19th Field Artillery. His wartime experience would give him training that would be put to use in his later film career, including the use of firearms and horsemanship.
After the Armistice brought World War I, to an end, Scott stayed in France and enrolled in an artillery officers' school. Although he eventually received a commission, Scott decided to return to America and thus journeyed home around 1919.
With his military career over, Scott continued his education at Georgia Tech where he set his sights on becoming an all-American football player. However a back injury prevented him from achieving this goal. Scott then transferred to the University of North Carolina, where he majored in textile engineering and manufacturing. As with his military career, however, he eventually dropped out of college and went to work as an accountant in the textile firm where his father was employed.
Around 1927, Scott developed an interest in acting and decided to make his way to Los Angeles and seek a career in the motion picture industry. Fortunately, Scott's father had become acquainted with Howard Hughes and provided a letter of introduction for his son to present to the eccentric millionaire filmmaker. Hughes responded by getting Scott a small part in a George O'Brien film called Sharp Shooters (1928). Despite its title and the presence of O'Brien, Sharp Shooters is not a western, as some film historians claimed. Rather, it's a romantic comedy. A print of the film survives in the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
In the next few years, Scott continued working as an extra and bit player in several films, including Weary River (1929) with Richard Barthelmess and The Virginian (1929) with Gary Cooper. Reputedly, Scott also served as Cooper's dialect coach in this latter film.
On the advice of director Cecil B. DeMille, Scott also gained much-needed acting experience by performing in stage plays with the Pasadena Playhouse.
In 1931 Scott played his first leading role (with Sally Blane) in Women Men Marry, a film, now apparently lost, that was made by a Poverty Row studio called Headline Pictures. He followed that movie with a supporting part in a Warner Bros. production starring George Arliss, A Successful Calamity. In 1932 Scott appeared in a play at the Vine Street Theatre in Hollywood entitled Under a Virginia Moon. His performance in this play resulted in several offers for screen tests by the major movie studios.Scott eventually signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures at a salary of US$400 per week (adjusted for inflation, US$400 in 1932 is the equivalent of approximately US$4800 in 2006).
Zane Grey apprenticeship
Scott's first role under his new Paramount contract was a small supporting part in a comedy called Sky Bride (1932) starring Richard Arlen and Jack Oakie. Following that, however, Paramount cast him as the lead in Heritage of the Desert (1932), his first significant starring role and also the one that established him as a Western hero. As with Women Men Marry, Sally Blane was his leading lady. The film was the first of ten "B" Western films that Scott made for Paramount in a series loosely based on the novels of Zane Grey. Around the same time, Fox also remade some Zane Grey titles that they owned, with George O'Brien as their star. Henry Hathaway made his directorial debut with Heritage of the Desert; he would go on to direct a total of seven out of the 10 Zane Grey adaptations that Scott would appear in. Henry Hathaway also directed one film in the Zane Grey series without Scott: Under the Tonto Rim (1933) starring Stuart Erwin.
Many of these Grey adaptations were remakes of earlier silent films. In an effort to save on production costs, Paramount utilized stock footage from the silent version and even hired some of the same actors, such as Raymond Hatton and Noah Beery, to repeat their roles. For the 1933 films The Thundering Herd and Man of the Forest, Scott's hair was darkened and he sported a trim moustache so that he could easily be matched to footage of Jack Holt, the star of the silent versions. Around this time, Warner Bros. did the same thing. John Wayne starred in a series of Westerns for them that utilized footage from an earlier series from the silent era that starred Ken Maynard.
In his book, The Hollywood Western: Ninety Years of Cowboys and Indians, Train Robbers, Sheriffs and Gunslingers, film historian William K. Everson refers to the Zane Grey series as being "uniformly good". He also writes:
To the Last Man was almost a model of its kind, an exceptionally strong story of feuding families in the post-Civil War era, with a cast worthy of an "A" feature, excellent direction by Henry Hathaway, and an unusual climactic fight between the villain (Jack LaRue) and the heroine (Esther Ralston, in an exceptionally appealing performance). Sunset Pass... was not only one of the best but also one of the most surprising in presenting Randolph Scott and Harry Carey as heavies.
The Zane Grey series were a boon for Scott, as they provided him with "an excellent training ground for both action and acting".
Non-Western roles for Paramount
In between his work in the Zane Grey Western series, Paramount cast Scott in several non-Western roles, such as "the other man" in Hot Saturday (1932), with Nancy Carroll and Cary Grant; Hello, Everybody! (1933), an odd one-shot attempt to make a film star out of the popular but heavy-set radio singer Kate Smith; and Go West, Young Man (1936).
Paramount also cast Scott in two fairly good horror films: Murders in the Zoo (1933) with Lionel Atwill, and Supernatural (1933) with Carole Lombard. Paramount also loaned him to work at other studios, including Columbia, where he appeared with Bebe Daniels in a minor romantic comedy called Cocktail Hour (1933).
Star on the rise
By 1935 Scott was firmly established as a popular movie star and, thus, following the release of Rocky Mountain Mystery (1935), Paramount moved him up from his "B" Western status to a star of "A" features, many on loan out.
Scott made four films for RKO Radio Pictures during 1935–36. Two of these were in the popular series of musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Roberta (1935), also starring Irene Dunne, and Follow the Fleet (1936). In both of these films Scott played Astaire's lunkheaded but likable pal. The other two were among the best in Scott's career: Village Tale (1935), "a touching, still-obscure melodrama about small-town gossip and hypocrisy"directed by John Cromwell, and She (1935), a superb adventure-fantasy adapted from H. Rider Haggard's 1886 novel.
In 1936, Scott, on loan to independent producer Edward Small, starred in another adventure classic, The Last of the Mohicans, adapted from the 1826 novel by James Fenimore Cooper. A big hit in its day, the film "gave Scott his first unqualified 'A' picture success as a lead."
Scott's films at Paramount include the aforementioned Go West, Young Man (1936), which reunited him with director Henry Hathaway and is Mae West's adaptation of Lawrence Riley's Broadway hit comedy Personal Appearance; So Red the Rose (1936), directed by King Vidor and starring Margaret Sullavan; and High, Wide, and Handsome. This last film, a musical directed by Rouben Mamoulian, featured Scott in his "most ambitious performance,"The film is set in 1859 in Pennsylvania, and follows the exploits of oil prospector Scott as he struggles against various varmints and vested interests out to wreck his business, and tries to keep his marriage to Irene Dunne intact, despite the tempting presence of saloon singer Dorothy Lamour.
Heroes, heavies and other roles
In 1938 Scott finished his contract with Paramount and began freelancing. Some of the roles that he took over the next few years were supporting ones, while his other roles during the same time frame had him occasionally lapse into villainy. One missed opportunity also came about around this time. Due to his Southern background, Scott was considered for the role of Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, but it was Leslie Howard who eventually got the part.
For 20th Century Fox Scott supported child star Shirley Temple in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) and Susanna of the Mounties (1939). For the same studio he played a supporting role in his first Technicolor film, Jesse James (1939), a lavish highly romanticized account of the famous outlaw (Tyrone Power) and his brother Frank (Henry Fonda). Shortly after making this film, Scott portrayed Wyatt Earp in Frontier Marshal (1939) and, for Universal, starred with Kay Francis in When the Daltons Rode (1940).
In 1941 Scott returned to Zane Grey country by co-starring with Robert Young in the Technicolor production Western Union, directed by Fritz Lang. Scott played a "good bad man" in this film and gave one of his finest performances. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote: Randolph Scott, who is getting to look and act more and more like William S. Hart, herein shapes one of the truest and most appreciable characters of his career as the party's scout.
In 1941, Scott also co-starred with a young Gene Tierney in another western, Belle Starr. Scott's only role as a truly evil villain was in Universal's The Spoilers, a rip-roaring adaptation of Rex Beach's 1905 tale of the Alaskan gold rush co-starring Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne. The movie's climax featured Scott and Wayne (and their stunt doubles) in one of the most spectacular fistfights ever filmed. The Dietrich-Scott-Wayne combination worked so well that Universal recast the trio the following year in Pittsburgh, a war-time action-melodrama which had Wayne and Scott slugging it out once more.
In 1943 Scott starred in The Desperados, Columbia Pictures' first feature in Technicolor. The film was produced by Harry Joe Brown, with whom Scott would form a business partnership several years later.
Shortly after the United States entered World War II, Scott attempted to obtain an officer's commission in the Marines, but because of a back injury years earlier, he was rejected.However, he did his part for the war effort by touring in a comedy act with Joe DeRita (who later became a member of The Three Stooges) for the Victory Committee showcases, and he also raised food for the government on a ranch that he owned.
Tall in the saddle
In 1946, after playing roles that had him wandering in and out of the saddle for many years, including a role alongside Charles Laughton in the cheaply made production Captain Kidd (1945), Scott appeared in Abilene Town, a UA release which cast him in what would become one of his classic images, the fearless lawman cleaning up a lawless town. The film "cemented Scott's position as a cowboy hero" and from this point on all but two of his starring films would be Westerns. The Scott Westerns of the late 1940s would each be budgeted around US$1,000,000, equal to $11,970,990 today.
Scott renewed his acquaintance with producer Harry Joe Brown and together they began producing many of Scott's Westerns, including several that were shot in the two-color Cinecolor process. Their collaboration produced the superior Coroner Creek (1948) with Scott as a vengeance-driven cowpoke who "predates the Budd Boetticher/Burt Kennedy heroes by nearly a decade," Gunfighters (1947) based on the Zane Grey novel Two Sombreros, and The Walking Hills (1949), a modern-day tale of gold hunters.
Scott also made Westerns for Nat Holt. Some of these movies, Badman's Territory, Trail Street, and Rage at Dawn were released by RKO, while others, like Fighting Man of the Plains, Canadian Pacific, and The Cariboo Trail were released by Twentieth Century Fox. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Scott's films were made mainly for Columbia or Warner Bros. His salary for the latter studio was US$100,000 per picture (equal to $981,119 today).
Scott's pictures from this period include the 1950 Colt .45, the 1951 films Fort Worth, Man in the Saddle and Carson City, and the 1952 films Hangman's Knot with Claude Jarman, Jr. and Lee Marvin (which Scott produced), Man Behind the Gun, The Stranger Wore a Gun (filmed in 3-D), and Thunder Over the Plains. Also in 1953, Scott appeared in Riding Shotgun, an unusual Western that presents (probably unintentionally) some McCarthyistic overtones. Most of these were directed by Andre De Toth.
Scott also made Rage at Dawn in 1955 for Nat Holt, which was released by RKO starring Scott and Forrest Tucker, and featuring Denver Pyle, Edgar Buchanan, and J. Carrol Naish. It purports to tell the true story of the Reno Brothers, an outlaw gang which terrorized the American Midwest, particularly Southern Indiana, soon after the American Civil War.
By 1956, Scott turned 58, an age where the careers of most leading men would be winding down. Scott, however, was about to enter his finest and most acclaimed period.
The Boetticher and Kennedy films
In 1955, screenwriter Burt Kennedy wrote a script entitled Seven Men from Now which was scheduled to be filmed by John Wayne's Batjac Productions with Wayne as the film's star and Budd Boetticher as its director. However, Wayne was already committed to John Ford's The Searchers. Wayne therefore suggested Scott as his replacement.The resulting film, released in 1956, did not make a great impact at the time but is now regarded by many as one of Scott's best, as well as the one that launched Scott and Boetticher into a successful collaboration that totaled seven films. While each film is independent and there are no shared characters or settings, this set of films is often called the Ranown Cycle, for the production company run by Scott and Harry Joe Brown, which was involved in their production. Kennedy scripted four of them. In these films ...
Boetticher achieved works of great beauty, formally precise in structure and visually elegant, notably for their use of the distinctive landscape of the California Sierras. As the hero of these "floating poker games" (as Andrew Sarris calls them), Scott tempers their innately pessimistic view with quiet, stoical humour, as he pits his wits against such charming villains as Richard Boone in The Tall T and Claude Akins in Comanche Station.
Scott and Boetticher films
- Seven Men from Now (1956)
- The Tall T (1956)
- Decision at Sundown (1957)
- Buchanan Rides Alone (1958)
- Westbound (1958)
- Ride Lonesome (1959)
- Comanche Station (1960)
Ride the High Country (1962)
In 1962 Scott made his final film appearance in Ride the High Country, a film now regarded as a classic. It was directed by Sam Peckinpah and co-starred Joel McCrea, an actor who had a screen image similar to Scott's and who also from the mid-1940s on devoted his career almost exclusively to Westerns.
Scott and McCrea's farewell Western is characterized by a nostalgic sense of the passing of the Old West; a preoccupation with the emotionality of male bonding and of the experiential 'gap' between the young and the old; and the fearful evocation, in the form of the Hammonds (the villains in the film), of these preoccupations transmuted into brutal and perverse forms.
McCrea, like Scott, retired from filmmaking after this picture, although he returned to the screen twice in later years.
Following Ride the High Country, Scott retired from film at the age of 64. Having made shrewd investments throughout his life, he eventually accumulated a fortune worth a reputed US$100 million.
During his retirement years he remained friends with Fred Astaire and also became friends with the Reverend Billy Graham. Scott was described by his son Christopher as being a deeply religious man He was an Episcopalian and a member of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was also a York Rite Freemason.
Scott died of heart and lung ailments in 1987 at the age of 89 in Beverly Hills, California. He was interred at Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Scott married twice. In 1936, he became the second husband of heiress Marion duPont, daughter of William Du Pont, Sr. and great-granddaughter of Éleuthère Irénée Du Pont de Nemours, the founder of the E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. Marion had previously married George Somerville, with Scott serving as best man at the wedding; the marriage ended in divorce three years later. In 1944, Scott married Patricia Stillman, with whom he adopted two children. The marriage lasted until Scott's death in 1987.
Scott is the putative subject of the 1974 Statler Brothers song "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?", lamenting the passing of Western films.
He is mentioned in the film Blazing Saddles when Sheriff Bart tries to convince the reluctant citizens of Rock Ridge to support his plan to save the town. He says that they "would do it for Randolph Scott" and they rise, putting their hands to their hearts and saying reverently "Randolph Scott", echoed by an off-screen chorus and agree to help the Sheriff.
In 1975, Scott was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. He also received an In Memoriam Golden Boot Award for his work in Westerns.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Scott has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6243 Hollywood Blvd. In 1999, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
The Oakland Raiders logo was reportedly patterned after the face of actor Randolph Scott.
Despite his southern background at a time the region was solidly Democrat in political affiliation, Scott was an active Republican. In 1944, he attended the massive rally organized by David O. Selznick in the Los Angeles Coliseum in support of the Dewey-Bricker ticket as well as Governor Earl Warren of California, who would become Dewey's running mate in 1948 and later the Chief Justice of the United States. The gathering drew 93,000, with Cecil B. DeMille as the master of ceremonies and short speeches by Hedda Hopper and Walt Disney. Among those in attendance were Ann Sothern, Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou, and Gary Cooper. Despite the good turnout at the rally, most Hollywood celebrities who took a public position sided with the Roosevelt-Truman ticket.
Filmography - Further information: Randolph Scott filmography
During the '30s, was roommates with Cary Grant in a beach house known jocularly as Bachelor Hall. The close friendship between Scott and Grant and the steady stream of women into and out of Bachelor Hall have fed rumor mills for years.
Rode a beautiful blond sorrel horse named Stardust in many of his westerns.
Formed Ranown Productions with producer Harry Joe Brown and produced several films.
Interred at Elmwood Cemetery, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, just four blocks from his boyhood home at 312 W. 10th Street.
Was the inspiration for the popular 1973 song "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?," a top-20 country hit for the The Statler Brothers.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1975.
Remained close friends with Cary Grant until the day he died. When he heard of his old friend's death, he reportedly put his head in his hands and wept.
His image from his westerns as an upright, outstanding sheriff or cowboy was so strong, it was paid homage to in Mel Brooks's classic comedy Blazing Saddles (1974). When the African-American sheriff chides the reluctant townspeople that they would have helped Randolph Scott, the great western star's name is intoned by a chorus on the soundtrack and the townspeople are won over.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 764-766. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
He was a conservative Republican and one of Hollywood's biggest supporters of Ronald Reagan as governor of California.
Due to his shrewd financial investments, Scott was reportedly worth around $100 million by the end of his life.
From 1950 to 1953, Scott was among Hollywood's Top 10 box office draws.
He was very ill in the final years of his life, and was hospitalized several times with pneumonia.
At the time of his retirement from acting he had been seriously considered for the role played by Chuck Connors in the Doris Day comedy Move Over, Darling (1963). It was to have been a reprise of the role he played in My Favorite Wife (1940).
Campaigned for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election, and attended the Republican National Convention.
During the early 1950s, Scott was a consistent box-office draw. In the annual Motion Picture Herald Top Ten Polls, he ranked tenth in 1950, eighth in 1951, and again tenth in 1952.
The back injury that ended Scott's college gridiron career also prevented him from being accepted for military duty during WWII.
Playing golf with Howard Hughes got Scott his first movie job as an extra on a silent film with George O'Brien an Lois Moran.
Scott was hired by Victor Fleming to coach Gary Cooper on speaking with a Virginia accent for "The Virginian.".
Lupe Velez claimed in 1932 that she was going to marry Scott but changed her mind. Scott said he only saw her once at the Brown Derby.
In 1965 Mike Connolly reported that Scott was one of the wealthiest actors in the world with real estate holdings in San Fernando and Palm Springs alone worth over 100 million.
Scott was scheduled to co-star once again with friend Cary Grant in "Spawn of the North," but salacious rumors about the two caused Paramount to replace them with Henry Fonda and George Raft. Shortly after completing his Paramount contract Scott opted not to resign and instead moved to Fox.