Randolph Scott (George Randolph Scott)

Randolph Scott

Randolph Scott

Actor. His film career spanned from 1928 until 1962 and was a leading man for all but his first three years. He is remembered for his roles as a Western hero, as out of his more than 100 film appearances, over 60 were of the Western film genre. Born George Randolph Scott, the second of six children, his father was an administrative engineer in a textile firm. His father was able to afford to send him to private schools and from an early age he excelled in sports. After the US entered World War I in April 1917 he joined the US Army and served in France as an artillery observer with the 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion in the 19th Field Artillery. He stayed in France after the end of the war and enrolled in an artillery officers school and received a commission, but decided to return to the US in 1919. He enrolled at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia where he set his sights on becoming an all-American football player but a back injury prevented him from achieving this goal. He then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, majoring in textile engineering and manufacturing. 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 he took an interest in acting and decided to make his way to Los Angeles, California and seek a career in the motion picture industry. His 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 him a small part in a George O’Brien film called “Sharp Shooters” (1928). Over the next few years he 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. On the advice of director Cecil B. DeMille, he also gained much-needed acting experience by performing in stage plays with the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California. In 1931 he played his first leading role (with Sally Blane) in “Women Men Marry” and followed it with a supporting part in a Warner Brothers production “A Successful Calamity” starring George Arliss. In 1932 Scott appeared in a play at the Vine Street Theatre in Hollywood entitled “Under a Virginia Moon” and his performance resulted in several offers for screen tests by the major movie studios. He eventually signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures at a salary of $400 per week. His first significant starring role that established him as a Western hero was “Heritage of the Desert” and it was the first of ten “B” Western films that he made for Paramount in a series loosely based on the novels of Western writer Zane Grey. In between his work in the Zane Grey Western series, Paramount cast him 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, “Murders in the Zoo” (1933, with Lionel Atwill), “Supernatural” (1933, with Carole Lombard) and “Go West, Young Man” (1936, with Mae West). From 1935 to 1936 he was loaned out to RKO Radio Pictures and appeared in the musicals “Roberta” (1935) and “Follow the Fleet” (1936), both starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. In 1936 he was loaned to independent producer Edward Small, starred in another adventure classic, “The Last of the Mohicans,” adapted from the 1826 novel by James Fenimore Cooper, that gave him his first unqualified “A” picture success as a lead. In 1938 he 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, he 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, he 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, with Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda). He then played the role of ‘Wyatt Earp’ in “Frontier Marshal” (1939) and, for Universal, starred with Kay Francis in “When the Daltons Rode” (1940). In 1941 he returned to Zane Grey country by co-starring with Robert Young in the Technicolor production “Western Union,” followed by “Belle Starr,” and “The Spoilers” (with John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich), his only role as a truly evil villain. Shortly after the US entered World War II, he attempted to obtain an officer’s commission in the US Marine Corps, but was turned down due to his earlier back injury. However, he supported 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. In 1942 and 1943 he appeared in several war films, notably “To the Shores of Tripoli,” “Bombardier,” the Canadian warship drama “Corvette K-225,” “Gung Ho!” and “China Sky.” In 1946 he appeared in United Artists “Abilene Town,” which cast him in what would become one of his classic images, the fearless lawman cleaning up a lawless town. The film firmly entrenched his position as a cowboy hero and from that point on all but two of his starring films would be Westerns. Over the next 15 years he starred in a number of films, including “Gunfighters” (1947), “Corner Creek” (1948), “The Walking Hills” (1949), “Fighting Man of the Plains” (1949), “Canadian Pacific” (1949), “The Cariboo Trail” (1950), “Colt .45” (1950), “Fort Worth” (1951), “Man in the Saddle” (1952), “Carson City” (1952), “Hangman’s Knot” (1952), “The Man Behind the Gun” (1953), “The Stranger Wore a Gun” (1953, filmed in 3-D), “Thunder over the Plains” (1953), “The Bounty Hunter” (1954), “Riding Shotgun” (1955), “Rage at Dawn’ (1955), “Seven Men from Now” (1956), “Shootout at Medicine Bend (1957, his last black and white movie), “The Tall T” (1957), “Decision at Sundown” (1957), “Buchanan Rides Alone” (1958), “Westbound” (1959), “Ride Lonesome” (1959), and “Comanche Station” (1960). In 1962 he made his final film appearance with Joel McCrea in “Ride the High Country,” a film now regarded as a classic, and he retired from acting to manage his shrewd investments in oil wells, real estate and securities said to exceed $100 million dollars. In 1975 he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He also received an In Memoriam Golden Boot Award for his work in Westerns. He died at his home as a result of heart and lung disease at the age of 89. He is the putative subject of the 1974 Statler Brothers country song “Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?”, lamenting the passing of Western films. He was married twice, first to du Pont heiress Marion du Pont (1936 to 1939) and Patricia Stillman (1944 until his death). He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to the motion picture industry. In 1999 a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated in his honor.

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  • Scott Randolph -


  • January, 23, 1898
  • Orange county, Virginia


  • March, 02, 1987
  • Bel Air, California

Cause of Death

  • heart and lung disease


  • Elmwood Cemetery
  • Charlotte, North Carolina

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