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Scott, George Randolph

by William S. Powell, 1994

23 Jan. 1898–2 Mar. 1987

George Randolph Scott, motion picture actor, was born in Orange, Va., the only one of his seven brothers and sisters not born in Charlotte, N.C., the family's home. He was the son of North Carolinians, Lucy Crane and George Grant Scott. (Some biographical sources refer to him as Randolph Crane and the year of his birth as 1903, but neither of these is confirmed by contemporary records.) Although Scott later said that he had had no acting ambitions as a youth, he did take part in plays produced in Charlotte under the direction of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Junior League, and other organizations. In the early months of 1918, during World War I, he served briefly with the Fourth Division.

He attended Woodberry Forest preparatory school, enrolled at Georgia Tech in 1919 but remained only a short time, and entered The University of North Carolina in the spring quarter of 1920. As a special student in commerce, he remained for two quarters before returning home to Charlotte, where he was recorded as a member of his parents' household until 1930. He worked as an accountant in his father's accounting firm, rose to auditor, and then became office manager. In 1921 he became a charter member of the Charlotte Civitan Club. While vacationing in California with a hometown friend in 1929, he reportedly met Howard Hughes on a golf course and, without even the formality of a screen test, was offered a role as an extra in a picture, The Far Call, that Hughes was filming.

His friend returned to Charlotte, but Randolph Scott remained in California and enrolled in the Pasadena Community Playhouse, a dramatic training school. During the next eight months he appeared in a series of plays under the direction of Gilmore Brown and won the lead in Under a Virginia Moon at the Hollywood Vine Street Theater. His performance resulted in an offer of a movie contract, but he declined it in favor of additional experience. Another play, The Broken Wing, brought him a contract with Paramount. He had minor parts in several motion pictures made in 1931, including Sky Bride, his first picture; Women Men Marry ; and The Lone Cowboy. Two more were filmed in 1932 and three in 1933. Scott was making a name for himself in westerns, but in 1935 he began to break out of that mold. He had nonsinging parts in several musicals and then appeared in assorted roles in such films as So Red the Rose, Follow the Fleet, Go West, Young Man, The Last of the Mohicans, and, with Shirley Temple, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

War films occupied him in the 1940s during World War II, while in the late 1940s he made several "quickie" westerns. It was in this decade that Scott formed his own production company, Ranown, making it possible for him to determine the kind of pictures in which he would appear. As a result, in the 1950s he played in a series of westerns described as relating "violence and betrayal to moral dilemma."

Badman's Territory, made in 1946, was his first big box office success. During the forties and fifties some of his pictures were Belle of the Yukon, Abilene Town, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, The Bounty Hunter, Decision at Sundown, and Westbound. His last film, Ride the High Country, made in 1962, was accounted his best. Altogether he appeared in ninety-six motion pictures.

A modest man, Scott was never ostentatious, yet he always dressed well. He disliked publicity and he was offended by screen sex. On occasion he returned to North Carolina to visit his family and always seemed comfortable in that setting. Many people in the state long had pleasant memories of backyard picnics when he was in town. In later years his father worked in the state auditor's office in Raleigh and delighted in introducing young female employees to his movie star son.

From his first appearance in Hollywood, Randolph Scott was known as a man of integrity and high principle. Recognized as a "Southern gentleman," he was said to have been the only movie actor accepted for membership in the Los Angeles Country Club. Early in his career he began investing in real estate, and in later years he was regarded as a multimillionaire and one of Hollywood's wealthiest stars.

In 1936 Scott married Mrs. Marion du Pont Somerville, an heiress of the du Pont fortune. Social and business affairs kept her in the East for long periods, however, and in 1944 they were amicably divorced. Soon afterwards he married Marie Patricia Stillman of New York, and they adopted two children: Christopher and Sandra. Scott's family belonged to St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Charlotte and at his burial in Elmwood Cemetery there, the private service was conducted by the rector and by the Reverend Billy Graham, a longtime friend of Scott's.

References:

Alumni Files, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Liz-Anne Bawden, ed., The Oxford Companion to Film (1976).

Chapel Hill Daily Tar Heel, 7 Oct. 1936.

Chapel Hill Newspaper, 3 Mar. 1987 (portrait).

Charlotte City Directory, 1921–30.

Charlotte Observer, 10 Nov. 1935, 5 Mar. 1987.

Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina (1924).

Los Angeles Times, 3 Mar. 1987.

New York Times, 4 Mar. 1944, 3 Mar. 1987 (portrait).

David Ragan, comp., Who's Who in Hollywood, 1900–1976 (1976).

Raleigh News and Observer, 13–14 Nov. 1935, 3 Mar. 1987.

Raleigh Spectator, 21 Apr. 1983, 4–10 June 1987.

Terry Ramsaye, International Motion Picture Almanac, 1939–40 (1939).

David Thomson, A Biographical Dictionary of Film (1981).

Washington Post, 3 Mar. 1987.

Winston-Salem Journal, 3 Mar. 1987.

Additional Resources:

Crow, Jefferson Brim. 1987. Randolph Scott: the gentleman from Virginia: a film biography. Carrollton, Tex: WindRiver Pub. Co. http://www.worldcat.org/title/randolph-scott-the-gentleman-from-virginia-a-film-biography/oclc/015083670 (accessed July 16, 2014).

Kanin, Garson, Leo McCarey, Bella Cohen Spewack, Samuel Spewack, and Irene Dunne. 2004. My Favorite Wife. [United States]: Turner Entertainment Co.; Burbank, CA: Distributed by Warner Home Video. http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE004048702 (accessed July 17, 2014).

Lee, Rowland V., Charles Laughton, Randolph Scott, Reginald Owen, Barbara Britton, John Carradine, GIlbert Rowland, et al. 2004. Captain Kidd. [S.I.]: Digview Productions. http://search.lib.unc.edu/search?R=UNCb7625345 (accessed July 17, 2014).

Murfin, Jane, Sam Mintz, Allan Scott, Alice Duer Miller, and William A Seiter. 2006. Roberta. Beverely Hills, CA: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE003855899 (accessed July 17, 2014).

Nott, Robert. 2004. The films of Randolph Scott. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. http://www.worldcat.org/title/films-of-randolph-scott/oclc/055962445 (accessed July 16, 2014).

Nott, Robert. 2000. Last of the cowboy heroes: the westerns of Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, and Audie Murphy. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE002704148 (accessed July 16, 2014).

Scott, Randolph, Gail Russell, Lee Marvin, Walter Reed, John Larch, Burt Kennedy, Andrew V. McLaglen, Robert E. Morrison, and Budd Boetticher. 2005. Seven men from now.  [United States]: Turner Entertainment Co.; Burbank, CA: Distributed by Warner Home Video. http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE004259914 (accessed July 17, 2014).

Scott, C. H. 1994. Whatever happened to Randolph Scott? Madison, NC: Empire Pub. http://www.worldcat.org/title/whatever-happened-to-randolph-scott/oclc/032347638 (accessed July 16, 2014).

Seiter, William A, Shirley Temple, Randolph Scott, and Margaret Lockwood. 2006. Susannah of the Mounties. Beverely Hills, CA: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. http://search.lib.unc.edu/search?R=UNCb7653836 (accessed July 17, 2014).

Zanuck, Darryl Francis, Nunnally Johnson, Henry King, Tryone Power, Henry Fonda, Nancy Kelly, Randolph Scott, et al. Jesse James. Beverly Hills, Calif: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE003226610 (accessed July 17, 2014).

 

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Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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