A Tribute to George C. Scott


A Tribute to George C. Scott

(This article was originally written at the time of the actor’s death in 1999, and has been updated and expanded a numer of times since then.)

Though George C. Scott’s death in September 1999 came as a shock, what was probably more shocking for people who knew him is that the hard-drinking, tough-talking, thoroughly independent actor made it to almost 72 years of age in the first place! I’m sure there were those — earlier in his career, at least — who thought his liver would give out or that he’d be knifed in a bar fight or shot by an ex-wife long before that.

I liked George Campbell Scott from the first time I saw him perform on screen, which I’m pretty sure was in The Hustler in 1961, then later on TV in the wonderful but short-lived East Side, West Side. What a great voice! And his face was as expressive as that of any actor who ever lived.

Scott could do the broadest comedy (Strangelove‘s General Turgidson) or the darkest drama. (His stage performance as Richard III was once described as “the meanest ever seen… by human eyes.”) His Fagin in the TV production of Oliver Twist (1982) is the only one I’ve seen that comes close to that of Alec Guinness.

But his reputation as a difficult actor and his refusal to cooperate with the Academy’s glitz machine probably cost him a lot of roles in which he could have showed even greater range. Later in his career he turned to TV and to producing his own films. He never had a problem going from film to TV to summer stock and back; the play was always the thing.

He won an Emmy in 1997 for his role in the cable TV remake of 12 Angry Men (screenplay rewritten and contemporized by the original screenwriter), in a cast which included stars like Jack Lemmon, Ossie Davis, and Hume Cronyn. His last performance was in another TV remake, this time Inherit the Wind, in which he and Lemmon did a creditable job of re-working the famed 1960 Spencer Tracy/Fredric March performances.

While he hadn’t made any theatrical films since 1995’s forgettable Angus, with three TV films in 1999, one got the feeling that Scott was in the midst of a comeback of sorts (though he never really left). His death was unfortunate and untimely, and he is greatly missed.

George C. Scott Tributes/Pages

Selected Reviews of George C. Scott’s Best Films

Where To Find Or See George C. Scott Films

George C. Scott Photos/Art On The Web

George C. Scott Movie Posters On The Web

Bruce Hershenson Vintage Movie Posters


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