Gig Young

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Gig Young
Gig Young - 1953.jpg
Young in 1953
BornByron Elsworth Barr
(1913-11-04)November 4, 1913
St. Cloud, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedOctober 19, 1978(1978-10-19) (aged 64)
Manhattan, New York City
Cause of death
Gunshot wound (self inflicted)
OccupationActor
Years active1940-1978
Spouse(s)Sheila Stapler (1940-1947)
Sophie Rosenstein (1950-1952)
Elizabeth Montgomery (1956-1963)
Elaine Williams (1963-1966)
Kim Schmidt (1978)
ChildrenJennifer Williams Young (b. 1964)
 
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Gig Young
Gig Young - 1953.jpg
Young in 1953
BornByron Elsworth Barr
(1913-11-04)November 4, 1913
St. Cloud, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedOctober 19, 1978(1978-10-19) (aged 64)
Manhattan, New York City
Cause of death
Gunshot wound (self inflicted)
OccupationActor
Years active1940-1978
Spouse(s)Sheila Stapler (1940-1947)
Sophie Rosenstein (1950-1952)
Elizabeth Montgomery (1956-1963)
Elaine Williams (1963-1966)
Kim Schmidt (1978)
ChildrenJennifer Williams Young (b. 1964)

Gig Young (November 4, 1913 – October 19, 1978) was an American film, stage, and television actor. Known mainly for second leads and supporting roles, Young won an Academy Award for his performance as a slimy dance-marathon emcee in the 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?.

Early life and career[edit]

Born Byron Elsworth Barr in St. Cloud, Minnesota, he and his older siblings were raised by his parents, John and Emma Barr, in Washington D.C.[1] He developed a passion for the theatre while appearing in high school plays, and after some amateur experience he applied for and received a scholarship to the acclaimed Pasadena Community Playhouse. While acting in Pancho, a south-of-the-border play by Lowell Barrington, he and the leading actor in the play, George Reeves, were spotted by a Warner Brothers talent scout. Both actors were signed to supporting player contracts with the studio.[2] His early work was uncredited or as Byron Barr (not to be confused with another actor with the same name, Byron Barr), but after appearing in the 1942 film The Gay Sisters as a character named "Gig Young", the studio decided that he should adopt this name professionally.[3]

Young appeared in supporting roles in numerous films during the 1940s, and came to be regarded as a popular and likable second lead, playing the brothers or friends of the principal characters. Young took a hiatus from his movie career and enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in 1941 where he served as a pharmacist's mate in the US Coast Guard until the end of World War II.[4] In early 1942, in an uncredited bit part and nearly unseen, in his distinctive voice, he had one line, "How's the ice?", in the Bette Davis film The Man Who Came to Dinner.[5] Less than two years later, he played opposite her as her much-younger beau in Old Acquaintance.

After Young's return from the war, Warner Bros. dropped his option. He then began freelancing at various studios, eventually obtaining a contract with Columbia Pictures before returning to freelancing. During those years, Young began to play the type of role that he would become best known for, a sardonic but engaging and affable drunk. His dramatic work as an alcoholic in the 1951 film Come Fill the Cup with James Cagney and his comedic role as a tipsy but ultimately charming intellectual in Teacher's Pet starring Clark Gable and Doris Day earned him nominations for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Success and decline[edit]

In 1955, Young became the host of Warner Bros. Presents, an umbrella title for three television series (Casablanca, King's Row, and Cheyenne) that aired during the 1955-56 season on ABC Television.[6] Later, he starred on the 1964-65 NBC series The Rogues, sharing appearances on a rotating basis with David Niven and Charles Boyer in the Four Star Television production.[7]

Young won the Academy Award for his role as Rocky, the dance marathon emcee and promoter in the 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don't They? According to his fourth wife, Elaine Williams, "What he was aching for, as he walked up to collect his Oscar, was a role in his own movie—one that they could finally call 'a Gig Young movie.' For Young, the Oscar was literally the kiss of death, the end of the line".[8] Young himself had said to Louella Parsons, after failing to win in 1951, "so many people who have been nominated for an Oscar have had bad luck afterwards."[8]

Young also is remembered by many James Dean fans for the "driving safety" interview made shortly before Dean's death in September, 1955.

Young's decline after his 1969 Oscar win was not immediate, as he had another good supporting role in Lovers and Other Strangers (1970) in the following year. However, alcoholism plagued his later years, causing him to lose acting roles. He was fired on the first day of shooting the comedy film Blazing Saddles after collapsing on the set due to withdrawal from alcohol.[9][10] Young's last role was in the 1978 film Game of Death (1979), a film released nearly six years after the film's star, Bruce Lee, died in 1973.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Young was married five times; his first marriage to Sheila Stapler lasted seven years, ending in 1947. In 1950, he married Sophie Rosenstein, the resident drama coach at Paramount, who was several years Young's senior. She was soon diagnosed with cancer, and died just short of two years after the couple's wedding. After her death, Young was engaged to actress Elaine Stritch.[12]

He met actress Elizabeth Montgomery after she appeared in an episode of Warner Bros. Presents in 1956, and the two married later that year.[9] In 1963, Montgomery divorced Young because of his alcoholism.[13]

Young married his fourth wife, real estate agent Elaine Williams, nine months after his divorce from Montgomery was final. Williams was pregnant with Young's child at the time and gave birth to his only child, Jennifer, in April 1964. After three years of marriage, the couple divorced. During a legal battle over child support with Williams, Young denied that Jennifer was his biological child. After five years of court battles, Young lost his case.[14]

On September 27, 1978, Young, age 64, married his fifth wife, a 31-year-old German actress named Kim Schmidt.[15] He met Schmidt in 1977 on the set of the Clive Donner/Gene Roddenberry TV movie Spectre, in which she played a police officer.[15]

Death[edit]

On October 19, 1978, three weeks after his marriage to Schmidt, the couple were found dead at home in their Manhattan apartment. Police theorized that Young shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself in a murder–suicide. A motive for the murder-suicide was never made clear.[16]

He was buried in the Green Hill Cemetery in Waynesville, North Carolina.[17] Young's will, which covered a $200,000 estate, left his Academy Award to his agent, Martin Baum and Baum's wife, Bernice.[8]

For his contribution to the television industry, Young has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard.

Filmography[edit]

Film
YearTitleRoleNotes
1940Misbehaving HusbandsFloor WalkerCredited as Byron Barr
1941Here Comes the CavalryTrooper RollinsCredited as Byron Barr
Sergeant YorkMarching soldierUncredited
Dive BomberPilot AbbottUncredited
Navy BluesSailor in storeroomUncredited
One Foot in HeavenFirst Groom Asking for Dog LicenseUncredited
The Tanks Are ComingJim AllenCredited as Byron Barr
You're in the Army NowSoldierUncredited
They Died with Their Boots OnLt. RobertsUncredited
1942The Man Who Came to DinnerBit partUncredited
Captains of the CloudsStudent pilotCredited as Byron Barr
The Male AnimalStudentUncredited
The Mad MartindalesPeter VarneyCredited as Byron Barr
The Gay SistersGig YoungCredited as Byron Barr (credited as Gig Young in later rereleases)
1943Air ForceCo-Pilot
Old AcquaintanceRudd Kendall
1947Escape Me NeverCaryl Dubrok
1948The Woman in WhiteWalter Hartright
Wake of the Red WitchSamuel 'Sam' Rosen
The Three MusketeersPorthos
1949Lust for GoldPete Thomas
Tell It to the JudgeAlexander Darvac
1950TarnishedJoe Pettigrew
Hunt the Man DownPaul Bennett
Target UnknownCapt. Reiner
1951Only the ValiantLt. William Holloway
Slaughter TrailIke Vaughn aka Murray
Come Fill the CupBoyd CopelandNominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Too Young to KissJohn Tirsen
1952Holiday for SinnersJason Kent
You For MeDr. Jeff Chadwick
1953The Girl Who Had EverythingVance Court
ArenaHob Danvers
City That Never SleepsJohnny Kelly
Torch SongCliff Willard
1954Young at HeartAlex Burke
1955The Desperate HoursChuck Wright
1957Desk SetMike Cutler
1958Teacher's PetDr. Hugo PineNominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
The Tunnel of LoveDick Pepper
1959Ask Any GirlEvan Doughton
The Story on Page OneLarry Ellis
1962That Touch of MinkRoger
Kid GalahadWilly Grogan
Five Miles to MidnightDavid Barnes
1963For Love or Money'Sonny' John Dayton Smith
A Ticklish AffairKey Weedon
1965Strange BedfellowsRichard Bramwell
1967The Shuttered RoomMike Kelton
1969They Shoot Horses, Don't They?RockyAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Nominated: BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1970Lovers and Other StrangersHal Henderson
1973A Son-in-Law for Charlie McReadyCharlie McReady
1974Deborah
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo GarciaQuill
1975Michele
The Killer EliteLawrence Weyburn
The HindenburgEdward Douglas
1978Game of DeathJim Marshall
Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1950The Silver TheaterEpisode: "Lady with Ideas"
1951Pulitzer Prize PlayhouseEpisode: "Ned McCobb's Daughter"
The Bigelow TheatreEpisode: "Lady with Ideas"
1953Robert Montgomery PresentsEpisode: "The Sunday Punch"
Schlitz Playhouse of StarsEpisode: "Part of the Game"
1954Producers' ShowcaseSimon GayforthEpisode: "Tonight at 8:30", Segment "Shadow Play"
Lux Video TheatreEpisode: "Captive City"
1955–1956Warner Brothers PresentsHost36 episodes
1956The United States Steel HourDave CormanEpisode: "Sauce for the Goose"
1957Climax!Edgar HoltEpisode: "Jacob and the Angels"
Studio OnePhilip Adams/Alan FredericksEpisode: "A Dead Ringer"
1958Goodyear TheatreHerman WorthEpisode: "The Spy"
1959The Twilight ZoneMartin SloanEpisode: "Walking Distance"
The Philadelphia StoryC.K. Dexter HavenTelevision movie
1960NinotchkaLeon DolgaTelevision movie
Shirley Temple's StorybookMiles HendonEpisode: "The Prince and the Pauper"
1961The Spiral StaircaseStephen WarrenTelevision movie
1962The Alfred Hitchcock HourDuke MarsdenEpisode: "A Piece of the Action"
1963Kraft Suspense TheatreHugo MyrichEpisode: "The End of the World, Baby"
1964–1965The RoguesTony Fleming22 episodes
1965The Andy Williams ShowHimself1 episode
1968Companions in NightmareEric NicholsonTelevision movie
1971The Neon CeilingJonesTelevision movie
Nominated: Emmy Award for Best Lead Actor - Single Appearance
1974The Great Ice Rip-OffHarkey RollinsTelevision movie
1975The Turning Point of Jim MalloyRay WhiteheadTelevision movie
1976McCloudJack HafermanEpisode: "The Day New York Turned Blue"
Sherlock Holmes in New YorkMortimer McGrewTelevision movie
GibbsvilleRay Whitehead7 episodes
1977SpectreDr. Ham HamiltonTelevision movie

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAwardResultCategoryFilm
1952Academy AwardNominatedBest Actor in a Supporting RoleCome Fill the Cup
1959Teacher's Pet
1970WonThey Shoot Horses, Don't They?
1971BAFTA AwardNominatedBest Supporting ActorThey Shoot Horses, Don't They?
1971Emmy AwardNominatedOutstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading RoleThe Neon Ceiling
1959Golden Globe AwardNominatedBest Supporting ActorTeacher's Pet
1970WonThey Shoot Horses, Don't They?
1971Kansas City Film Critics Circle AwardsWonBest Supporting ActorThey Shoot Horses, Don't They?
1958Laurel AwardNominatedTop Male Comedy PerformanceTeacher's Pet (Placed 4th)
1959WonTop Male Supporting PerformanceThe Tunnel of Love
1963Top Male Supporting PerformanceThat Touch of Mink

References[edit]

  1. ^ Parish, James Robert (2002). The Hollywood Book of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More Than 125 American Movie and TV Idols (3 ed.). Contemporary Books. p. 335. ISBN 0-8092-2227-2. 
  2. ^ Cozad, W. Lee (2006). More Magnificent Mountain Movies: The Silverscreen Years, 1940-2004. W. Lee Cozad. p. 147. ISBN 0-9723372-2-9. 
  3. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era To 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 810. ISBN 1-55783-551-9. 
  4. ^ "Coast Guard History: Gig Young". uscg.mil. 2008-07-22. 
  5. ^ http://www.whosdatedwho.com/tpx_655112/the-man-who-came-to-dinner/
  6. ^ Thompson,, Robert J.; Burns, Gary (1999). Making Television: Authorship and the Production Process. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 95–96. ISBN 0-275-92746-6. 
  7. ^ Guida, Fred; Wagenknecht, Edward (2006). A Christmas Carol and Its Adaptations: A Critical Examination of Dickens's Story and Its Productions on Screen and Television. McFarland. p. 193. ISBN 0-7864-2840-6. 
  8. ^ a b c Holden, Anthony (1993). Behind the Oscar: The Secret History of the Academy Awards. Simon & Schuster. p. 275. ISBN 0-671-70129-0. 
  9. ^ a b Donnelly, Paul (2005). Fade To Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries (3 ed.). Omnibus. p. 746. ISBN 1-84449-430-6. 
  10. ^ Parish, James Robert (2008). It's Good to Be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks. John Wiley and Sons. p. 9. ISBN 0-470-22526-2. 
  11. ^ Eleftheriotis, Dimitris; Needham, Gary (2006). Asian Cinemas: A Reader and Guide. University of Hawaii Press. p. 423. ISBN 0-8248-3085-7. 
  12. ^ Kirsta, Alix (20 February 2009). "Nobody's Perfect". Telegraph. Retrieved 20 April 2009. "Despite a long engagement to Gig Young and living with Ben Gazzara, whom she threw over for Rock Hudson ('and we all know what a bum decision that turned out to be') she got married only once, at the age of 47, to the actor John Bay whom she met in London on Small Craft Warnings." 
  13. ^ Strodder, Chris (2000). Swingin' Chicks of the '60s: A Tribute to 101 of the Decade's Defining Women. Cedco Pub. p. 167. ISBN 0-7683-2232-4. 
  14. ^ Lindsay, Mark; Lester, David Lester (2004). Suicide By Cop: Committing Suicide by Provoking Police to Shoot You. Baywood Publishing Company, Inc. pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-89503-290-2. 
  15. ^ a b Parish, James Robert (2002). The Hollywood Book of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More Than 125 American Movie and TV Idols (3 ed.). Contemporary Books. p. 336. ISBN 0-8092-2227-2. 
  16. ^ Darst, Elizabeth (March 15, 2002). "OSCARS: Woman Seeks Dad's Statuette". People. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  17. ^ Brettell, Andrew; King, Noel; Kennedy, Damien; Imwold, Denise (2005). Cut!: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other Tragedies. Leonard, Warren Hsu; von Rohr, Heather. Barrons Educational Series. p. 292. ISBN 0-7641-5858-9. 

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