It took until his middle years for his professional star to peak, but this strapping, stoically handsome Southerner left a lengthy onscreen legacy dominated by a slew of the western genre's most enduring entries. Born in Orange County, Virginia and raised in Charlotte, George Randolph Scott knew a privileged upbringing in prestigious private schools, excelling in athletics as a teenager. He was nineteen when America entered WWI, and enlisted in the Army; though he stayed in France after the Armistice to pursue an artillery officer's commission, he soon returned home to enroll at Georgia Tech. He majored in textile engineering with an eye toward joining his father's manufacturing firm. By the late '20s, however, the notion of acting captured his imagination; through his father's acquaintance with Howard Hughes, he journeyed to Los Angeles and got a bit in the 1928 George O'Brien western "Sharp Shooters."
Over the next several years, the horse-trained novice continued to rack up small roles, and worked on honing his performing expertise at the Pasadena Playhouse. He'd get his first featured screen part in the now-lost '31 indie "Women Men Marry," and his stage efforts landed him a contract with Paramount the following year. It wasn't long before the studio found him a successful formula, having him headline a series of ten popular "B" oaters based on the prose of Zane Grey. Director Henry Hathaway cut his professional teeth on most of these efforts, including "Heritage of the Desert," "Wild Horse Mesa," "The Thundering Herd," "Sunset Pass," "Man of the Forest," and "To the Last Man." Paramount concurrently kept him busy to good effect in efforts like "Hot Saturday," "Murders in the Zoo," and "Supernatural." After the Grey westerns ran their course, Scott was a popular loan-out for RKO ("She," second male lead in the Astaire/Rogers musicals "Roberta" and "Follow the Fleet").
Scott went freelance after his Paramount deal expired in '38; though the next few years would find him in musicals ("High, Wide and Handsome"), comedies ("My Favorite Wife") and as a Shirley Temple father-figure ("Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm," "Susannah of the Mounties"), sagebrushers still dominated his workload. He'd saddle up through the WWII era for notables including "Jesse James," "Frontier Marshal," "Virginia City," "When the Daltons Rode," "Western Union," "The Spoilers" and "Belle of the Yukon." The war years found him doing his share of combat flicks ("To the Shores of Tripoli," "Bombardier," "Corvette K-225," "Gung Ho!"); the balance of the decade found him back in the saddle, where he'd remain almost exclusively for the rest of his career. Representative efforts of the late '40s include "Badman's Territory," "Trail Street," "Albuquerque" and "Return Of the Bad Men."
With the onset of the '50s, Scott remained among the country's top box-office draws; the years' weathering only served to lend an effective world-weariness to his screen persona, and allowed him to segue seamlessly into the adult western era. He continued to make profitable saddlebusters for Warner and Columbia through the mid-'50s, as evidenced by "Colt .45," "Fort Worth," "Man in the Saddle," "Santa Fe," "Carson City," "Hangman's Knot," "Man Behind the Gun," "The Stranger Wore a Gun" and "Thunder Over the Plains." The remainder of the decade saw the actor enter his collaboration with director Budd Boetticher, which resulted in the most enduringly acclaimed projects on his resume: "Seven Men from Now," "The Tall T," "Decision at Sundown," "Buchanan Rides Alone," "Westbound," "Ride Lonesome" and "Comanche Station." Scott thereafter received a fitting screen farewell alongside fellow iconic screen cowpoke Joel McCrae in Sam Peckinpah's '62 fading-of-the-Old-West elegy "Ride the High Country." Always a shrewd investor, the independently wealthy Scott had neither the inclination or need to ever return to performing, and he lead a quiet retirement until his passing in 1987.
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