Actor George C. Scott Dead at 71

Actor George C. Scott was found dead at his home in Westlake Village, California, on Wednesday, September 22. Medical examiner Dr. Janice Frank said the 71-year-old film star died of an abdominal hemorrhage. Scott had been in ill health in recent years; Frank characterized his demise as "a natural death."

Best known for his Oscar-winning role as World War II general George Patton, Scott excelled at playing gruff but vulnerable characters. His career spanned four decades, beginning with his first professional appearance, as Richard III, in 1957 in a Shakespeare in the Park production in Manhattan. His most recent performances were television remakes of Inherit the Wind and Twelve Angry Men.

Born to working-class parents in Wise, Virginia on October 18, 1927, Scott grew up in Detroit, where he was a high-school athlete with an interest in journalism. After four years in the Marine Corps, which he spent in administrative and graves-registration work in Washington, DC, Scott attended the University of Missouri as a journalism student. A chance tryout for a student play got him hooked on acting, and he spent the early 1950s struggling to win a role in a major production. Richard III was his big breakthrough, a performance remembered by those who saw it as "the one against which all others are measured," according to the New York Times.

Scott spread his talent equally across stage, screen, and television. He performed in 22 major stage productions, 32 feature films, and numerous television specials or series. Despite his intimidating, no-nonsense demeanor, Scott had a flare for comedy. His most memorable performance in this genre was as the gung-ho Gen. Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (1964). His sometimes rough onscreen persona was a reflection of a private reality peppered with barroom brawls and romantic turmoil. He was married four times, including two bouts with actress Colleen Dewhurst, and is survived by six children.

George C. Scott's many achievements as an actor were offset by his love-hate relationship with the entertainment industry. He rejected several Oscar nominations, an Emmy award, and the Patton Oscar, dismissing the awards as encouraging an atmosphere of "childish and damaging unnatural competitiveness." Acting is about art, he felt, not about competition. View Scott's complete filmography here.

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