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Lizabeth Scott, 1947
September 29, 1922
Scranton, Pennsylvania, US
|Other names||Elizabeth Scott|
|Alma mater||Alvienne School of the Theatre|
|Occupation||Actress, singer, model|
Lizabeth Scott, 1947
September 29, 1922
Scranton, Pennsylvania, US
|Other names||Elizabeth Scott|
|Alma mater||Alvienne School of the Theatre|
|Occupation||Actress, singer, model|
Lizabeth Virginia Scott (born September 29, 1922) is an American film actress, known for her deep voice and smoky sensual looks. After performing the Sabina role in the first Broadway and Boston stage productions of The Skin of Our Teeth, she emerged internationally in such film noirs as The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck, Dead Reckoning (1947) with Humphrey Bogart, Desert Fury (1948) with John Hodiak, and Too Late for Tears (1949) with Don DeFore. No other actress has appeared in more film noir. Of her 22 feature films, she was leading lady in all but one. In addition to stage and radio, she appeared on television from the late 1940s to early 1970s.
She was born Emma Matzo in Scranton, Pennsylvania, oldest of six children born to John Matzo (1895–1968) and Mary Matzo née Pennock (1899–1981). Reference works and biographies have given conflicting accounts of the ethnic origins of her parents. However, Scott described herself as Russian. Her family lived in the Pine Brook section of Scranton, where John Matzo owned Matzo Market. Scott characterized her father as a "lifelong Republican," which influenced her own capitalistic views. The family was immersed in all things cultural, especially music. This love of music would influence Scott's voice.
Scott's famous accent, timbre and tempo began during first grade. Her parents sent her to weekly lessons at a local elocution school, held in "the living room of a Victorian house, where a Grande Dame would preside ..." As a result, Scott lost the Northeast Pennsylvania English spoken in the Scranton area. Scott's trademark broad A is characteristic of Mid-Atlantic English. However, Scott has attributed the tone of her voice to heredity as a younger sister had a similarly deep voice. In addition, Scott was given six years of piano lessons and two of voice. As a young girl, working in her father's store, she dreamed of being a journalist, then an opera singer and finally an actress. At the age of 11, she was the Fairy Godmother in a pantomime play, Cinderella, at summer camp. During Christmas season she would take part in pageants at the local Catholic church her family attended. Yet despite a strict Catholic upbringing, Scott described herself as "rebellious and outspoken" as a young girl, despite her mother telling her to subdue her emotions and "be a lady." When asked what was the best advice she was given, Scott replied, "I don't know, but I sure didn't take it." However, Scott mentioned adolescent favorites such as Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essays as having the greatest influence on her.
Scott attended Marywood Seminary, a local Catholic girls' school. She transferred to Scranton's Central High School, where she performed in several plays. After graduating, she spent the summer working with the Mae Desmond Players at a stock theater in the nearby community of Newfoundland. She then travelled down to Abingdon, Virginia and worked at the Barter Theatre. That autumn she attended Marywood College, but quit after six months. Mary Matzo wanted her daughter to become a journalist. But when Scott said she would either become a stage actress—or a nun—her mother relented. In 1939, with her father's help, the 17-year-old Scott moved to New York City, where she stayed at the Ferguson Residence for Women. Scott attended the Alvienne School of the Theatre. There she studied for 18 months, where she resisted attempts by the teachers to pitch her voice higher. During this time, Scott read Maxwell Anderson's Mary of Scotland, a play about Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, from which she derived the stage name "Elizabeth Scott." She would later drop the "E" from Elizabeth.
In late 1940, an 18-year-old Scott auditioned for Hellzapoppin (1938). From several hundred women, she was chosen by vaudevillians John "Ole" Olsen and Harold "Chic" Johnson, stars of the original Broadway production. She was assigned to one of three road companies, Scott's being lead by Billy House and Eddie Garr. Landing her first professional job, she would be billed as "Elizabeth Scott." Scott's tour opened November 3, 1940 at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. Scott did blackouts and other types of sketch comedy during her 18-month tour of 63 cities across the US. Scott returned to New York in the spring of 1942, where she joined a summer stock company at the 52nd Street Theatre on the subway circuit, the then equivalent of off-Broadway. Eventually, she starred as Sadie Thompson in John Colton's play Rain (1923). Though no drama critic reviewed the play, a press agent for new actresses, Joe Russell—known locally as "The Man who meets the Greyhound Bus"—persuaded a producer with a problem to see it.
Michael Myerberg just moved an experimental production from New Haven, Connecticut to the Plymouth Theatre. Impressed by Scott's Sadie Thompson, he hired her as the understudy for Tallulah Bankhead despite Bankhead's protests. Bankhead was the star of Thornton Wilder's then new play, The Skin of Our Teeth (1942). Bankhead had previously signed a contract forbidding an understudy for the Sabina role, which Myerberg breached when hiring Scott—rumors of an affair between the married Myerberg and the new understudy were rife. Scott has said that her fondest memory is when Myerberg told her, "I love you." But the two would eventually part.
Previously, Bankhead controlled the production by not showing up for rehearsal. Now Myerberg could simply put Scott in Bankhead's place. Scott has acknowledged that Myerberg used her to keep Bankhead under control and that Bankhead was furious at the situation. Describing her own experience with Bankhead, Scott recalled, "She never spoke to me, except to bark out commands. Finally, one day, I'd had enough. I told her to say 'please,' and after that she did." The rivalry between the two actresses is cited as an alternative to the Martina Lawrence-Elizabeth Bergner origin of Mary Orr's short story, The Wisdom of Eve (1946), the basis of the 1950 film All About Eve. Broadway legend had it that Bankhead was being victimized by Scott, who was supposedly the real-life Eve Harrington. However during the eight months Scott was understudy, she never had an opportunity to substitute for Bankhead, as Scott's presence guaranteed Bankhead's. Scott was cast as "Girl/Drum Majorette." Scott was 20-years old when the play opened—Bankhead was 40. Though the play ran November 18, 1942 – September 25, 1943, Scott left the production during Miriam Hopkins' tenure.
The continuing feud between Myerberg and Bankhead worsened her ulcer, leading her to not renew her contract. Anticipating Bankhead's move, Myerberg suddenly signed 39-year-old Miriam Hopkins in March. Caught off-guard, Scott would eventually quit in disappointment. Bankhead's final zinger to Scott was "You be as good as she (Hopkins) is." For a brief period Scott understudied for Hopkins. While Scott liked Hopkins much more than Bankhead, she was still disappointed about being passed over for the Sabina role. Before quitting, Scott replaced Hopkins for one night only. When Scott finally went on stage as Sabina, she was surprised by both the approval and fascination of the audience. Her replacement as Sabina understudy was another future femme fatale, 19-year-old Gloria Hallward, soon to be known as Gloria Grahame. When Michael Myerberg pulled Grahame from the play for another experimental production in Philadelphia—Star Dust—there was no understudy when Gladys George took over for Hopkins. On August 30, 1943, Scott once again played Sabina when George was ill. Joe Russell was in the Plymouth Theatre audience that night. Afterward, when a Californian friend came to New York on one of his biannual visits to Broadway, Russell told him about Scott's performance. Russell's friend was an up-and-coming film producer for Warner Brothers, Hal Wallis.
Scott returned to her drama studies and some fashion modeling. Meanwhile, an associate of Joe Russell's, Irving Hoffman, a New York press agent and columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, had befriended Scott and tried to introduce her to helpful people. Hoffman earlier did the same for a 19-year-old model who was then being approached by several Hollywood studios—Lauren Bacall. On September 29, 1943, Hoffman held a birthday party at the Stork Club—Scott had turned 21. By happenstance or design, Wallis was also at the club that night. Hoffman introduced Scott to Wallis, who arranged for an interview the following day. When Scott returned home, however, she found a telegram offering her the lead for the Boston run of The Skin of Our Teeth. Miriam Hopkins was ill. Scott sent Wallis her apologies, canceling the interview. Scott recalled "On the train up to Boston, to replace Miss Hopkins, I decided I needed to make the name more of an attention-grabber. And that's when I decided to drop the 'E' from Elizabeth."
Hopkins recovered in two weeks and Scott was back in New York. Scott returned to modeling for the Walter Thornton Agency, which Lauren Bacall also worked for. Bacall was currently a cover girl for Harper's Bazaar. Later that year, Scott herself would appear in a Harper's photographic spread, which was allegedly admired by film agent Charles Feldman of Famous Artists Corporation (now ICM Partners). In a telegram to Scott he asked her to undergo a screen test. He invited her to Los Angeles and stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel, all expenses paid. Coincidentally or not, he just signed on Bacall, who would soon be making her first film.
On March 2, 1944, when Casablanca (1942) won the Best Picture Award at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Casablanca 's producer, Hal Wallis, rose to accept the Academy Award, but the Warner family prevented him leaving the aisle of seats. Instead, the studio head, Jack Warner, accepted the award, while Wallis looked on helplessly. This incident would change the focus of Scott's career from stage to screen actress. During that same month, Scott made a five-day trip to Los Angeles and stayed at the hotel, where she was forgotten by Feldman for 10 days.
After reaching Feldman on the telephone, Scott was given a test script. Being a stage actress, Scott knew nothing about screen acting. Her first screen test was at Universal, then at William Goetz's International Pictures. She was rejected by both studios. Then she tested at Warner Brothers. But this time around, Wallis' sister, Minna Wallis, arranged for film director Fritz Lang to coach Scott. Here he taught Scott not to stop when flubbing a line while the camera was rolling, as the bad footage could be cut out later. She read a scene from The Male Animal (1942). However, when Jack Warner saw the screen test, he also rejected Scott. The reason for Warner's rejection varies among film historians, ranging from Warner telling Charles Feldman: "She'll never be a star, only a second leading lady" to stopping a rival to Bacall, who was signed on to Warner Brothers. In addition to Bacall, at the Warner Teddington Studios in London, there was already a blonde actress named Elizabeth Scott, who looked similar to the American. This Scott was the second leading lady in the Warner noir Fingers (1941). A graduate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Scott had a contract with Warner Brothers in Hollywood, but did not come to California due to the war.
Hal Wallis also saw the American Scott's test and recognized her potential. In a meeting Wallis told Scott, "If I could, I would put you under contract." But she did not believe him. She thought him as powerful as Warner and was "prevaricating." Unknown to Scott, years of infighting between Jack Warner and Wallis were about to climax. Under acrimonious circumstances, Wallis left Warner Brothers for Paramount Pictures. On the day that Scott was scheduled to leave for New York, she read in Variety that Wallis was at Paramount. But she spent several months in New York before Feldman telegraphed her in August 1944—Wallis wanted to sign her to a contract.
To Have and Have Not (1944), Bacall's first film, made its New York premiere October 11, 1944. This film would be basis of accusing Scott of being a "Bacall manquée" for the rest of her career. Scott moved to Los Angeles in November 1944. Later that winter, Scott tested for Love Letters (1945) and the role of Susan in The Affairs of Susan (1945), but was cast in neither.
At the age of 22, Scott's film debut was the comedy-drama You Came Along (1945) opposite Robert Cummings. Originally conceived as a Barbara Stanwyck (1907–1990) vehicle, Ayn Rand's script concerns an Army Air Force officer, Bob Collins, who tries to hide his terminal leukemia from his handler, Ivy Hotchkiss (Scott), a US Treasury PR flack, whom Bob just met during a war bond drive. They become romantically involved, agreeing it's "just fun up in the air." Then Ivy finds out the truth and makes a fateful decision to make the most of the little time they have together. Production ran February 6–April 6, 1945. During the shooting of You Came Along, Hal Wallis showed Scott's screen test to Hollywood columnist Bob Thomas. Wallis told Thomas: "Notice how her eyes are alive and sparkling ... Once in a while she reads a line too fast, but direction will cure that. That voice makes her intriguing." Almost four months before the release of Scott's first film, Thomas' March 16, 1945 column was the first to make an unfavorably comparison between Lauren Bacall and Scott, thus beginning a critical trend to marginalize Scott in favor of Bacall.
Despite Scott's initial difficulties with Cummings, she soon gained his respect with her performance and force of personality. However, Scott never made any headway with the director, John Farrow. Farrow lobbied for Teresa Wright and when he did not get her, he made his displeasure known to Scott throughout the shoot. You Came Along, remains, however, Scott's favorite of all the films she made. The film premiered in Los Angeles on August 2, 1945. Later in October 1945, Tallulah Bankhead denied Paramount publicity saying Scott was her understudy on Broadway. "'Nobody ever understudies me,' baritones the Alabam' belle. 'When I don't go on, the play doesn't go on!'"
In September 1945, Paramount public relations dubbed Scott "The Threat," which derived from a critic's description of Scott: "She's the Threat, to the Body, the Voice and the Look." "The Body" (Marie McDonald, 1923–1965), "The Voice" (Frank Sinatra) and "The Look" (Lauren Bacall) were supposed to be threatened by Scott's arrival on the Hollywood scene. However, McDonald's measurements were 36½-22½-35 with a height of 5'6", versus Scott's 34-24-34 with a height of 5'6". Nor was Scott permitted to sing after her first film, invariably being dubbed by Trudy Stevens. Scott herself never cared for the moniker, though she found "meanie" roles easier to play. Early in February 1946, Scott was dating a then unknown actor named Burt Lancaster, with whom Scott would do a screen test. Lancaster's first marriage was in trouble and despite rumors of marriage between him and Scott, the two would break-up the following year.
Later in 1946, Scott's moniker proved prophetic with a 37-year-old Barbara Stanwyck, who, in a letter, objected about Scott's top billing in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946): "I will not be co-starred with any other person other than a recognized male or female star." Lawyers for Wallis and Stanwyck hashed it out. Eventually, the final billing ran Stanwyck, Van Heflin and Scott at the top, with newcomer Kirk Douglas in second place. But Wallis' interest in promoting Scott was obsessive. The AFI page on Martha Ivers notes: "Director Lewis Milestone is quoted in an article in the Los Angeles Sun Mirror on 8 Dec 1946 as having said that he would never make another picture with producer Hal Wallis because Wallis wanted to reshoot scenes in this film for more close-ups of Lizabeth Scott; Milestone reportedly told Wallis to shoot them himself—which he did." Wallis ended up adding extra footage of Scott at the expense of Stanwyck's footage, which later led to a contretemps between Stanwyck and Wallis. Concerning her first film noir, Scott recalled how strange it was to be in a film with Stanwyck and only have one brief scene together. The screenplay by Robert Rossen depicts two separate story-lines running parallel—one dominated by Martha Ivers (Stanwyck) and the other by Antonia "Toni" Marachek (Scott). The Heflin character, Sam, interfaces both story-lines, which only overlap in the one scene where the fatale Martha and ingénue Toni meet. Sam is a returning war veteran who is stuck with a wrecked car in his childhood hometown of Iverstown, owned by a matriarch industrialist, Martha, who runs it like the mob boss of a big corrupt city. After Toni is jailed on a parole violation, Sam approaches Martha's weak-willed husband, the local district attorney and Martha's childhood partner-in-crime, Walter O'Neil (Kirk Douglas). Though Sam only asks for help to free Toni, Walter suspects Sam of ulterior motives. Martha, fearing that Sam knows her secret, tries to trap him inside her opulent but dark world. Due to its depiction of upper-class and police corruption, as well as the political affiliations of the screenwriter, the film was listed by the FBI as communist propaganda. Production ran October 2–early December 1945. It was released September 13, 1946.
In June 1946 Scott would gain the distinction of being the first Hollywood star to visit Britain since the end of the Second World War. She was there to attend the London premiere of Martha Ivers and do a promotional tour through the country. In Liverpool and Manchester she was met by massive crowds. Her appeal was now truly international. During her stay in Britain, Scott was interviewed by Picture Page, a news magazine program, at the BBC's Alexandra Palace studios. While Scott was still in Britain, shooting began on a new noir that Scott would join when she returned—Dead Reckoning.
Columbia originally intended Rita Hayworth (1918–1987) for the role, who was busy with The Lady from Shanghai (1947). Then attention turned to Bacall, who also refused. As a result, Scott was borrowed from Hal Wallis.
The film itself starts in flashback. A US Army paratrooper, Captain "Rip" Murdock (Humphrey Bogart), fearing for his life, reveals everything he knows to a priest in church. Murdock and Johnny Drake (William Prince) are on their way to Washington DC by train, when Drake goes AWOL, leading Murdock on a manhunt that ends with Drake's charred body in a morgue. Murdock is told that Drake is a murder suspect. Murdock finds the widow of Drake's alleged victim, Coral "Dusty" Chandler (Scott), who sings at a nightclub owned by Martinelli (Morris Carnovsky). Scott here makes her debut as an Ann Sheridan-like figure, smoky, mysterious, ambiguous as to motive. As Murdock gradually discovers the truth behind Drake's death, he falls in love with Dusty, who may not be the innocent bystander that she seems.
When the film was finally released and the reviews came in, they revealed that most critics never caught the differences in the accent, diction and timbre of Scott and Bacall. Bacall's accent is pre-WW2, upper-middle-class New York metropolitan, often mistaken for Mid-Atlantic due to the broad "A" and non-rhotic pronunciation of words containing "R." Unlike Scott's inherited low tone, Bacall originally had a naturally high tone with a nasal timbre and fast tempo, but trained herself to pitch her voice lower and slow down her delivery. Despite Bacall's "mannered toughness" and Scott's "breathy theatricality," when Bacall did the voice-over for a 1990s cat-food commercial, some people thought it was Scott. But more notable than any actual similarity between Bacall and Scott are the same people, institutions and events that would affect to varying degrees their careers: the Second World War, the Walter Thornton Agency, Harper's Bazaar, Irving Hoffman, Charles Feldman and the Famous Talent Corporation, Humphrey Bogart, the Hollywood columnist community—and eventually the "Second Red Scare" (1947–1954). Also, both actresses made Bogart's personal list of the nine "most potent" kissers "in movie love scenes" he filmed with.
At the age of 24, Scott's billing and portrait were equal to Bogart's on the film's lobby posters and in advertisements. Most often portrayed in publicity stills was the Jean Louis gown-and-glove outfit worn in the nightclub scene, the most iconic gown Scott worn in her entire film career (see infobox). In September 1946, a Motion Picture Herald poll of exhibitors voted her the seventh-most promising "star of tomorrow." Production ran 10 June–4 September 1946. It premiered in New York the week of 23 January 1947. Despite the initial positive publicity, the long-term effect of Dead Reckoning would be to typecast the former comedienne for her entire career. In the following year, contrary to general expectations, Bacall herself approved of the casting of Scott in Dead Reckoning.
With the coming of the Second World War, a new type of Hollywood actress appeared on the big screen. California historian Kevin Starr described it thus: "The stars emerging in 1940, by contrast—Rita Hayworth, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Lupe Vélez, Marie Windsor, Lana Turner, Lizabeth Scott—each possessed a certain hardness, an invisible shield of attitude and defense, that suggested that times were getting serious and that comedy would not be able to handle all the issues... Just a few years earlier Hollywood had been presenting the wisecracking platinum blonde, frank, sexy, self-actualizing. Now with the war, that insouciance had become hard-boiled."
This "hard-boiled" quality appeared in Scott's two previous films and would be repeated in Desert Fury (1947), which was the second noir filmed in color and a Western one as well. It starred John Hodiak, Burt Lancaster, Wendell Corey and Mary Astor (1906–1987). Astor played Fritzi Haller, a casino and bordello owner, who runs the desert town of Chuckawalla. Scott played Fritzi's 19-year-old daughter, Paula, who, on her expulsion from "her fifth finishing school," returns home. She falls for gangster Eddie Bendix (Hodiak), and faces a great deal of opposition from everyone else. Generally panned by critics when it first appeared, it has been gaining critical praise in the passing years. Even the once ridiculed, high fashion clothes of Scott's—by Edith Head with the colors the Southwest in mind—play a role in the continued fascination with the film. Robert Rossen's screenplay repeated the matriarch-run-town trope of The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. Originally, Hal Wallis hired Ramona Stewart, a 23-year-old graduate from the University of Southern California, to write the screenplay, which was based on her then unpublished novel, Desert Town (1947). Another 23-year-old, Betsy Drake, was originally cast as Paula, but failed the screen test and was replaced by Scott (who was 24 at the time). Much of the shooting was done on location in Cottonwood, Arizona. Shooting took place mid-August–early November 1946. The film was released August 15, 1947. During the shooting of Desert Fury scenes that took place in Los Angeles, Scott would briefly reappear with Burt Lancaster in a spoof William Tell sketch in Variety Girl (1947).
In December 1946, Scott again starred with Lancaster, Corey and Douglas in Wallis' I Walk Alone (1948), a noirish story of betrayal and vengeance. In her second torch singer role, Scott is Kay Lawrence, who befriends a convict, Frankie Madison (Lancaster), who returns to New York after 14 years in prison. Kay's boyfriend, Noll "Dink" Turner (Douglas) is the owner of the Regent Club, which Frankie claims to own half of. Tired of Kay, Noll sends her to sweet-talk Frankie in an effort to stall for time. Meanwhile, Noll intends to dump Kay and marry a socialite. Both men battle for control of the business that Turner built while Frankie was in prison. The film was a dramatic hit with the audience.
But there was more drama behind the scenes of the film, originally titled Deadlock. The Kay Lawrence role was originally intended to be Kristine Miller's breakout role. But Scott, ever competitive with all actresses, grabbed role for herself. Miller later recalled, "(Wallis) planned to star me in 'I Walk Alone.' He tested me with Burt; it was a wonderful test. But then Lizabeth Scott decided she wanted the role, and Lizabeth got whatever she wanted—from Hal Wallis! (Laughs) So, I got the second part instead." Douglas, while working with Lancaster on the film, noted: "Lizabeth Scott played the girl we were involved with in the movie. In real life she was involved with Hal Wallis. This was a problem. Very often, she'd be in his office for a long time, emerge teary-eyed, and be difficult to work with for the rest of the day." Though relations between Lancaster and Scott were previously romantic, there had been a falling-out. Lancaster's behavior toward Scott was chilly, especially during one kissing scene, leaving Scott looking exasperated. Shooting took place early December 1946–mid-February 1947. The film was released January 16, 1948. By April 9, 1947, Lancaster tried to break his 7-year contract with Paramount. He claimed it violated a previous freelance deal—but added that he did not want to work with Scott anymore. Despite all the issues among the cast and past critics, I Walk Alone is usually judged now to be a film noir classic.
In January 1948, a 26-year-old Scott played her third and last ingénue in the second favorite film she would make—Pitfall (1948) with Dick Powell and Jane Wyatt as a middle-aged couple growing apart. Director André de Toth explained his reasons for casting Mona: "I wanted Lizabeth Scott. I didn't want some blonde with big tits. You had to believe that this girl was real. Even if I took one of these over-sexed types who could not act, it would change how the Powell character is drawn into the affair. Remember the point of the script was that he's just a middle-level insurance investigator. He's tired of his job, spending time in his little office with a drab secretary. So I could have made a different picture, with a prettier girl than Lizabeth Scott, and told the story of that girl, her problems; but that wasn't this movie. That would make it phony, if you cast it with Marilyn Monroe, a type like that. I needed somebody real." In post-war Los Angeles, the Powell character, John Forbes, is investigating Mona Stevens (Scott), a department store model. Her jailed boyfriend brought expensive presents for Mona with embezzled funds. As John searches her apartment for evidence, she returns home and catches him in the act. Bored with his wife, John conducts an affair with Mona, but he soon competes for her with a voyeuristic detective, played by a then unknown Canadian actor, Raymond Burr. Shooting took place January 15–February 18, 1948 at General Service Studios. It was released August 19, 1948.
In May 1948, it was announced that Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum would star in a football-themed story by Irwin Shaw, originally titled "Interference." Afterward, Lucille Ball replaced Greer and Victor Mature replaced Mitchum. Scott was slated to play the club secretary. Then Scott replaced Ball as leading lady. The reason for the role switch is unknown, though Ball never forgave Mature for his rudeness when they made Seven Days' Leave (1942). But the 37-year-old Ball was in career slump at the time and had to take the secondary role meant for Scott. Mature played football star Pete Wilson, who has a heart problem. Scott played Pete's wife, Liza "Lize" Wilson, an avaricious, social climbing interior decorator, who might leave Pete if he quits football and loses his lucrative income. The original ending has Pete leaving Lize for the nobler secretary. But to the bewilderment of critics, it was changed to an ambiguous ending where Pete stays with Lize. The final film, titled Easy Living (1949), was shot early July–mid-August 1948, but was released October 8, 1949. Despite the general negative response when it was released, the 1949 New York Times review was uncommonly positive, though typically dismissive of Scott's performance. But current critiques tend to see Scott as an underrated dramatic actress in her Lize role.
In September 1948, Scott would play the ultimate femme fatale in Too Late for Tears, with Don DeFore, Dan Duryea, Arthur Kennedy and Kristine Miller. The story again takes place in post-war Los Angeles, where the facade of a typical married couple is shattered when someone by mistake throws $60,000 into their car. In an effort to keep the money, the wife, Jane Palmer (Scott), leaves a trail of bodies to the very end. This Hitchcock-like, black-and-white noir is widely considered Scott's best film and performance, eliciting praise even from the traditionally hostile New York Times. But the film was a box-office failure when it was released and the producer, Hunt Stromberg, was forced into bankruptcy. The then discredited screenwriter, Roy Huggins, denounced the director Byron Haskin and said the film "had all the suspense of a two-hour ride on a merry-go-round." Yet 64 years after the box office failure, a film historian has noted the film's staying power: "Too Late for Tears is a relatively 'unknown and unseen' noir and deserves this recognition, especially for its storyline, acting and the incredible performance of Lizabeth Scott in the femme fatale role." Though shooting took place mid-September to mid-October 1948 at Republic Pictures, the film was released July 8, 1949. During the shooting of a scene where Scott screams at Duryea, she accidentally broke a blood vessel in her throat.
At the end of 1948, Scott shifted dramatic gears in Paid in Full (1950). Mousy Jane Langley (Scott), a department store illustrator, allows younger sister Nancy (Diana Lynn), a beautiful store model, to marry Bill Prentice (Robert Cummings), despite Jane's love for him. A few years later, Jane has an argument with Nancy, who catches Jane and Bill having an affair. Distraught, Jane backs up her car and accidentally kills her young niece. The Prentices then divorce. Jane eventually marries Bill herself and gets pregnant, despite warnings from all around. Before Jane dies after giving birth, she gives the baby to her sister. In a film reminiscent of Stella Dallas (1937) and Mildred Pierce (1945), both Cummings and the original screenwriter, Robert Rossen, were out of their depth—but the final film succeeded surprisingly well. There was reportedly a "scene stealing" competition between Scott and Lynn on the set. Production ran mid-October–late November 1948. The film would not be released until March 1950.
On Tuesday, January 25, 1949, Scott collapsed and went into hysterics on the RKO set of The Big Steal (1949). She immediately quit after three-days' production. According to Scott's replacement, Jane Greer, Scott quit because she was concerned about being associated with the leading man, Robert Mitchum, who at the time was incarcerated at the local honor farm for a marijuana conviction—Mitchum was convicted January 10, 1949. It was also later alleged that Hal Wallis was supposedly responsible for Scott's bowing out. Yet, Scott would star with Mitchum in a RKO film two years later. During this same period, the press would report rumors of Scott's stage fright, an ailment common to actors. Scott herself has admitted to stage fright, explaining her absence during premieres of her films. Scott's stage fright may have been associated with some psychosomatic illness.
During Scott's recovery period, Walter Winchell, in his June 9, 1949 "On Broadway" column, repeated a rumor of Scott's impending marriage to Mortimer Hall, CEO and president of radio station KLAC. But Scott and Hall later broke up. Hall would eventually marry actress Ruth Roman, pursue Rosemarie Bowe—who looked similar to Scott—divorce Roman, then marry Scott's Paid in Full co-star Diana Lynn.
By June 22, 1949 Scott was reportedly recovered from her January episode and was to be loaned out by Hal Wallis to the Princeton Drama Festival. In July 1949, Scott returned to the stage in the title role of Philip Yordan's play, Anna Lucasta, at the McCarter Theatre, Princeton, New Jersey." The press reported: "Folks who expected fireworks when Liz Scott and Tallulah Bankhead crossed paths at the Princeton Drama Festival were vastly disappointed. It was all sweetness and light."
Finally, Scott decided to legalize her stage name. Having been known professionally as "Lizabeth Scott" for almost seven years, Superior Court Judge Clarence M. Hanson granted on Wednesday, September 14, 1949, a request to legally change Emma Matzo to Lizabeth Scott, who was 15 days from her 28th birthday. In November, Scott returned to the stage: "Lizabeth Scott, out of movies for the winter, opened at the East Hartford, Conn. theater in Anna Lucasta."
1950 would see Scott act in four films. In a continuing effort to escape her femme fatale typecasting, Scott would play another self-sacrificing, June Allyson-like character before reverting to her usual torch singer/socialite roles. In The Company She Keeps (1951), she played Joan Willburn, a probation officer who sacrifices her fiancé to a scheming convict, Diane Stuart (Jane Greer), who echoes Scott's Toni Marachek from Martha Ivers. Diane moves to Los Angeles to start a new life. She is met there by Joan, who procures Diane a job in a hospital. After Joan turns down a marriage proposal from a journalist, Larry Collins (Dennis O'Keefe), Diane begins dating him. Joan initially resists the idea of Diane marrying Larry, but eventually gives it her blessing. While Greer's famous beauty was toned down for the film, Scott's was not. As a result, critics were generally unconvinced that the leading man would choose the dowdy Diane over Joan. Most critics thought Scott and Greer were miscast and should have switched roles. Columnist Erskine Johnson summed it thus: "Lizabeth Scott is on her second reach-for-the-handkerchief-Mabel picture for RKO." Production ran early March–early April 1950. It was released Jan 6, 1951. A box-office failure due to the then perceived miscasting and mix of noir and "weepie" genres, The Company She Keeps has risen in critical esteem with a more sophisticated audience in later years.
Scott played her third torch singer role in Dark City (1950), a traditional film noir. Her boyfriend, Danny Haley—Charlton Heston in his film debut—is a bookie who is the apparent target of a vengeful brother of a dead man that Haley swindled. Originally Burt Lancaster was cast as the leading man, but he refused to work with Scott again. Production ran April 5–May 12, 1950. It was released October 1950. In a May interview Scott said she was reading the entire oeuvre of Aldous Huxley. In another interview she admitted almost joining a "cult" endorsed by Huxley, but did not due to the vow of poverty required. Huxley explored concepts like reincarnation, fate and destiny, of which Scott also acquired. Yet, conversely, Scott was a friend and reader of Ayn Rand, an Aristotelian atheist. Later that year, Scott was cast to do the summer stock version of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke (1948). Instead, she quit the production and audited two morning courses—philosophy and political science—for six weeks at the University of Southern California.
In Two of a Kind (1951), Scott is Brandy Kirby, a socialite who seduces a gambler, Michael "Lefty" Farrell (Edmond O'Brien), into joining a caper. Brandy is working with her boyfriend attorney, Vincent Mailer (Alexander Knox), both of whom want Mike to persuade an industrialist to change his will, making a long-lost son the beneficiary to ten million dollars. And Mike is to impersonate that son. Brandy coaches Mike on details of the McIntyre boy's life. She then arranges for Mike to meet Kathy McIntyre (Terry Moore), the McIntyres' niece, an ingenué who naïvely introduces Mike to her uncle and aunt. Production ran 10 October–November 2, 1950. It was released July 1951. Originally titled Lefty Farrell, much of the shooting was done on location at Malibu, California.
Red Mountain (1952) is set in the 1860s, starring Scott as Chris, the only member of her family to survive the Civil War. Red Mountain would be the second of Scott's three Westerns, though the only traditional non-noir one. The leading man was Alan Ladd in a typical knight errant role—Brett Sherwood, a Confederate Army captain seeking to make a last stand against the Union. Arthur Kennedy, as a freed Confederate POW fiancé, rejoined Scott as one of her two love interests. When the director, William Dieterle, became sick on the Gallup, New Mexico shooting location, Hal Wallis sent Scott's old adversary from You Came Along, John Farrow, to direct. Scott injured her knee during a stunt in which she jumped off a 12-foot ledge—she injured herself on the fourth try. She had to be flown out from location. Production ran October 25-early December 1950. It was released May 1952.
Scott would play her fourth and last torch singer role in The Racket (1951), another conventional noir. Irene Hayes (Scott) in caught up in a struggle between a big city police captain (Robert Mitchum) and a local crime boss (Robert Ryan), who resembled the real-life Bugsy Siegel. The film was released two months after the Kefauver hearings, in which Virginia Hill, a real-life femme fatale and mistress of Siegel, denied having any knowledge of organized crime. While Irene Hayes was thought to be modeled on the smoky-voiced Hill, Scott denied the rumor. Production ran April 9–May 14, 1951. It was released November 1951.
Scott returned to Britain in October 1951 to film Stolen Face (1952), a noir that presages Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) by several years. It combined elements from medical science-fiction, which would be repeated in the later work of the director, Terence Fisher, in his cycle of Hammer horror films. Paul Henreid is Dr. Philip Ritter, a London plastic surgeon, who upon losing the love of an American concert pianist, Alice Brent (Scott), recreates her face on a disfigured female criminal. They marry with disastrous results when Alice returns to England. Hal Wallis and Scott, by allowing Henreid to be the leading man, were among the first to break the Hollywood blacklist. As a former member of the Committee for the First Amendment, Henreid was forced to seek work in Europe. Scott would later star in an anti-McCarthy noir, with results to be compounded with a future visit to Cannes, France. Shooting took place late October–early December 1951 at Riverside Studios, London.
Later that spring, Scott returned to her beginnings as a comedienne when she began work on her first comedy noir, Scared Stiff, with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Scott played an heiress who inherits a haunted castle on Lost Island off the coast of Cuba. Though Scott would recall fond memories of working on the set in the years ahead, at the time of filming she found it trying. Scott found Lewis' impersonations of her offensive, while a jealous Hal Wallis instructed the director, George Marshall, not to let the romantic scenes between Scott and Martin get too steamy. Despite Scott's best efforts, including making excuses for Lewis' behavior to the press, most of her scenes ended up on the cutting-room floor. Shooting took place late May–mid-July 1952. The film premiered the week of 28 May 1953 in Los Angeles. Despite the negative experience and reviews, Scared Stiff remains Scott's third favorite film.
Scott's stage fright was worsening. During the October 19, 1952 live broadcast of NBC's Colgate Comedy Hour, Scott reportedly hid in her dressing-room, until the casting director, Howard Ross, taunted her to face the audience. By the end of October 1952, of the original 48 big name actors under contract to Paramount in 1947, only four were left—Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, William Holden and Lizabeth Scott.
In April 1953, the 30-year-old Scott would do her last film as a Paramount contractee. Bad for Each Other (1953) is set in Scott's home state of Pennsylvania, though in the southwest near Pittsburgh. Scott played a decadent heiress, Helen Curtis, who tries to dominate a poor but idealistic physician, Colonel Tom Owen (Charlton Heston). Tom is a former US Army surgeon, who returns from the Korea War to his hometown of Coalville. When he finds out his brother was killed in a mine accident, he visits the owner, Dan Reasonover. During a party at Reasonover's mansion, he meets Reasonover's daughter, Helen, a two-time divorcée. She talks him into joining the practice of her physician, who treats the imaginary ailments of society matrons. They become engaged, but despite Helen's scheming to keep him in her jeweled world, he opts to leave it for his impoverished community. The source material for the screenplay, Horace McCoy's novel Scalpel, was more nuanced than the linear morality play of Bad For Each Other. Shooting took place April 23–May 21, 1953. This film would be Hal Wallis' last attempt to re-pair Burt Lancaster and Scott. Patricia Neal was originally cast as Helen, but when Scott replaced Neal, Lancaster had to be replaced by Heston. Though Heston and Scott previously worked together in Dark City, there was reported feuding between the two on the set. The film was a box office failure. Eight months later in February 1954, Hal Wallis and Scott parted ways. Scott was now a freelancer.
In Scott's most overtly politically-themed film, Silver Lode (1954), she returned to the Western noir of Desert Fury, only in a traditional 19th century setting. Scott is a would-be bride, whose groom, Dan Ballard (John Payne), is the target of a lynch mob on their Fourth of July wedding day. As the loyal fiancée, Scott is unwavering in facing volatile public opinion, fueled by the fear that Ballard is someone other than he appears. The film repeats many of the themes found in previous Western noirs as The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), as well as the then recent anti-blacklist Johnny Guitar that premiered the previous month. Dan Duryea was cast as a villain named Ned McCarty, ostensibly named after William Henry McCarty (alias Billy the Kid), but usually assumed by film historians to be an allusion to Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. Shooting took place late December 1953–mid-January 1954 at Republic Studios. Unlike previous Hollywood efforts against blacklisting, such as the Committee for the First Amendment, manned mostly by Democrats, Republicans dominated the Silver Lode production. Though the screenwriter, Karen DeWolf, was a left-wing activist, director Allan Dwan and John Payne were Republican, as well as Scott and RKO's owner, Howard Hughes. The film premiered in Los Angeles, June 24, 1954. When released the critical response to the film itself was muted as the film appeared immediately after the Army–McCarthy hearings and McCarthy's influence was already in decline.
In April 1954, Scott would attend the Cannes Film Festival, where she would pose wading barefoot in a fountain and surf for photographers. Though she would immediately leave for London after the festival, her visit to France would have unforeseen consequences, in which she would face her own crisis of public opinion. Later that month it was announced that she would be the host of High Adventure (1957–1958), a travelogue television series for CBS, but she never appeared in it. As Scott put it: "... out of the clear blue sky one morning, I woke and decided that I never wanted to make another film again. It was just a spark, I can't explain it."
Though the public response to Scott was generally favorable during the Paramount years, the film critics were less so, repeating unfavorable comparisons with Lauren Bacall and Tallulah Bankhead. With the revival of interest in film noir and its corresponding acting style, beginning in the 1980s, Scott's acting reputation has increased among critics and film historians.
During the Golden Age of Radio, Scott would reprise her film roles in abridged radio versions. Typical were her appearances on Lux Radio Theatre: You Came Along with Van Johnson in the Robert Cummings role and I Walk Alone. Scott was also a guest host/narrator on Family Theater.
After being fired from the New York Journal-American in 1954, Howard Rushmore became the chief editor of a New York scandal magazine, Confidential. For Rushmore it was a return to his days as film critic of the communist Daily Worker, but on the opposing side. He was fired from the Worker in 1939 for giving an ambivalent review of Gone with the Wind (1939). The firing made the front-page of all the major New York City newspapers. Rushmore became an anti-communist hero.
In early 1955, several months after the Army–McCarthy hearings and premiere of Silver Lode, Rushmore wrote an exposé on Lizabeth Scott, a second-generation Republican and Catholic host of Family Theater. The publisher, Robert Harrison, was initially intrigued but skeptical. To verify some aspects of the story, he hired an out-of-work actress, Veronica "Ronnie" Quillan, to have luncheon with Scott. Quillan was to be bugged with a wristwatch microphone by the Hollywood Detective Agency. But the agency owner, H. L. Von Wittenburg, backed out and the plan never went through. Despite the lack of evidence, Confidential then sent a copy of the story to Scott herself.
What Scott read was that a police raid occurred on a Hollywood Hills bungalow at 8142 Laurel View Drive the previous autumn. Two female adults, one male adult and a 17-year-old female were arrested on prostitution charges. The police found an address book with the names and telephone numbers of various people in the film industry, including two numbers allegedly belonging to Scott. "HO 2-0064" had a Hollywood prefix and was the residential number of an elderly couple, Henry A. and Mamie R. Finke, of 4465 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, while "BR 2-6111" belonged to the 20th Century Fox switchboard at 10201 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles. Scott did not work for 20th Century until 1956, when she would do an episode of The 20th Century Fox Hour.
The Rushmore article further stated that Scott spent her off-work hours with "Hollywood's weird society of baritone babes" (a euphemism for lesbians). He also linked Scott's trip to Cannes to a Parisian woman named "Frede." "In one jaunt to Europe (Scott) headed straight for Paris and the left bank where she took up with Frede, the city's most notorious Lesbian queen and the operator of a night club devoted exclusively to entertaining deviates like herself." Frédérique "Frédé" Baulé managed "Carroll's," an upper-class, cabaret-type nightclub at 36 Rue de Ponthieu, Paris, France. It featured mainstream entertainers of the day like Eartha Kitt and was devoted exclusively to entertaining café society. One of the owners was Marlene Dietrich, who happened to be the subject of "The Untold Story of Marlene Dietrich" in the then current issue of Confidential.
Hollywood Research Inc. was the new intelligence-gathering front of Confidential. Run by Marjorie Meade, Robert Harrison's 26-year-old niece, she was the one of the most feared persons in Hollywood since her arrival in January 1955. Once a proposed story was assembled, usually either she or an agent would visit the subject and present a copy as a "buy-back" proposal. But instead of paying the magazine not to publish the article, Scott sued. On July 25, 1955—two months before the issue's printed publication date—while the Marlene Dietrich issue was still on the newsstands, Jerry Giesler, Scott's lawyer, initiated a $2.5 million libel suit.
In retaliation, Confidential published the Scott story in the next issue. Under the byline of "Matt Williams," it was published as "Lizabeth Scott in the Call Girls' Call Book." In November 1955, at the age of 33, Scott again went to Britain to film The Weapon (1957). As with other European films of the 1950s–1970s period aimed at a US audience, Scott starred with another American actor, Steve Cochran, who played US Army CID officer Mark Andrews. Scott is Elsa Jenner, the widowed mother of Erik Jenner (Jon Whiteley), who finds a pistol and accidentally shoots a friend. He hides the pistol and runs away. The weapon was used in a murder 10 years previously. Mrs. Jenner, Andrews and the murderer—Joshua Henry (George Cole)—are all in a race to find the boy. Though production took place early November–early December 1955, the film was not released until 1956 in Britain and 1957 in the US.
The next spring, despite Giesler's reassurances to the press, the legal effort against Confidential would go nowhere. Since the magazine was domiciled in New York State, and Scott was a California resident who initiated the suit in her own state, the suit was stopped. On March 7, 1956, Los Angeles Supreme Court judge Leon T. David quashed Scott's suit on grounds that the magazine was not published in California. Despite this setback, Giesler said he also would refile in New York. Lawsuits from other actors against the magazine were piling up. Meanwhile, Rushmore tried to get Harrison to publish a story about former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt having an alleged affair with her African-American chauffeur. When Harrison refused, Rushmore quit and became a witness for California Attorney General Edmund "Pat" Brown. Since Confidential was ensconced in New York state, and New York refused to let Brown extradite Harrison to California, Brown instead put Hollywood Research and Harrison's niece on trial. On August 7, 1957, The People of the State of California v. Robert Harrison et al. trial began. It would eventually involve over 200 actors, most of whom fled California to avoid defense subpoenas. Rushmore, now the state's star witness, testified that the magazine knowingly published unverified allegations, despite the magazine's reputation for double-checking facts: "Some of the stories are true and some have nothing to back them up at all. Harrison many times overruled his libel attorneys and went ahead on something." According to Rushmore, Harrison told the attorneys, "I'd go out of business if I printed the kind of stuff you guys want." Ronnie Quillan herself testified at the same trial that she never verified the Scott story, thus not making the story "suit proof," but that Rushmore agreed to publish it anyway. But the state's case against Hollywood Research weakened as plaintiffs settled out of court, one-by-one. A mistrial was declared on October 1, 1957 when the jury could not agree on a verdict as three of the most prominent plaintiffs—Liberace, Dorothy Dandridge and Maureen O'Hara—had left the case.
In the wake of the sensational 1957 trial, Scott was forgotten by the media. Despite latter day claims that Scott's film career was ruined by the Confidential scandal, by the time the September 1955 issue of Confidential appeared, her career was already dormant. Scott began her career at a time when established actors were away at war, giving then unknowns like Scott a chance at stardom. When the old stars returned to the studio payrolls, the new stars declined. In addition, the rise of television and breakup of the studio system further curtailed film production. Film historians generally agree that Scott's career essentially peaked between 1947 and 1949. By February 1953 her stage fright was such that she even hid from friends. Scott did not renew her Paramount contract in February 1954, 18 months before "Lizabeth Scott in the Call Girls' Call Book" was published. Between the end of her contract and Rushmore's article, she turned down numerous scripts, including a part in Wallis' The Rose Tattoo (1955). But instead of reinventing herself as Bacall did, returning to Broadway, Scott chose another path.
Erskine Johnson reported back in January 1954 that Scott was being trained by Hollywood voice teacher Harriet Lee, and later by Lillian Rosedale Goodman—the final result was that Scott "has a vocal range of two octaves, A below C to High C," making Scott a mezzo-soprano. In July 1956, Johnson reported that Scott was under the management of Earl Mills, who also managed the singing career of Dorothy Dandridge. Scott was planning to debut as a torch singer on the nightclub circuit.
In 1957 Scott reemerged from retirement in Loving You, Elvis Presley's second musical. Scott played Glenda Markle, the manager of a failed country band, led by her disgruntled ex-husband, Walter "Tex" Warner (Wendell Corey). By accident, she discovers the musical talent of a young delivery man, Deke Rivers (Presley), and uses him to revive the band's fortunes by appealing to teenagers. Glenda creates interest in her protégé with unorthodox stratagems. During the shooting of Loving You, Scott was reported to be infatuated with Presley. During a kissing scene, she playfully bit him on the cheek, leaving a red mark, which she called "just a little love nibble." The scene had to be reshot with the other side of his face to the camera. But Scott's musical debut came to naught. Though Hal Wallis tried to get Scott's singing voice undubbed for the production, he was overruled by the studio heads, despite all of Scott's previous voice training. Production ran late January 1957–mid-March 1957.
Undaunted by Paramount's refusal to let her true singing voice be heard, Scott signed a recording contract with Vik Records (a subsidiary of RCA Victor). Scott recorded her album with Henri René and his orchestra in Hollywood on October 28, 29 and 30, 1957. Simply titled Lizabeth, the 12 tracks are a mixture of torch songs and playful romantic ballads. The album includes Cole Porter's I'm In Love Again. The inner notes has an interview with Scott by columnist Earl Wilson, who writes in typical Wilsonian prose, "Liz, who's quite a blouseful, is a fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson, sleeps in the nude, loves deep-sea fishing ... and adores sexy clothes." Finally on Wednesday, April 23, 1958, Scott made her public singing debut on CBS' The Big Record.
The 1960s saw Scott continuing to guest-star on television, including a notable 1960 episode of Adventures in Paradise, "The Amazon," opposite Gardner McKay. Scott played the titular character, derived from a boyfriend's dialog: "She is a sleek, well-groomed tigress, a man-eating shark—an Amazon! She chews men up and spits them out." In Burke's Law "Who Killed Cable Roberts?" (1963), she camps it up as the ungrieving widow of a celebrity big game hunter. But much of her private time was dedicated to classes at the University of Southern California.
In May 1969, the future wedding of Scott to oil executive William Dugger of San Antonio, Texas was announced after a two-year engagement. In late 1969, musician Rexino Mondo was helping Scott decorate her fiance's mansion on Mulholland Drive before the wedding: "The urns were in place. Liz took my arm and guided me down a hall into a large room, then introduced me to her fiance, Texas oil baron William Lafayette Dugger, Jr. He was in his late forties, of medium build, good-looking, with dark hair, a warm personality, and a strong handshake." Dugger himself described Scott as "A misunderstood soul searching for love. Her outward appearance is just a shell." Dugger planned to make a film in Rome starring Scott, but suddenly died on August 8, 1969. A handwritten codicil to his will leaving half his estate to his fiancée was contested by Dugger's sister, Sarah Dugger Schwartz. The will was judged invalid in 1971.
Previous to Dugger, several books claimed Scott was a mistress of Hal Wallis, then married to actress Louise Fazenda. Wallis had a falling out with Scott around the time of Bad for Each Other, with recriminations on Wallis' part. After Scott freelanced for a few years, Wallis made an effort to revive the relationship by making Scott the leading lady opposite Presley, as it might be his last chance to star Scott in anything. After shooting was completed, Scott walked away film acting to try her hand at singing. The 14-year-relationship that began at the Stork Club in 1943 came to an end. Scott herself knew the relationship was over—only Wallis remained in denial. After Louise's death in 1962, Wallis went into a depression and became a recluse before marrying Martha Hyer in 1966. In later life, he was reticent on the subject of Scott, despite an unjealous Hyer urging him to include Scott and his other mistresses in his autobiography. Though Casablanca was the film Wallis was most proud of, the ones he would repeatedly watch were those of Lizabeth Scott. Even during his second marriage, Wallis would continue to screen Scott at home, night after night.
In 1948 Scott was reportedly divorced from Russian Prince Stass Reed, whom she dated the previous year. In 1953 Scott was briefly engaged to architect John C. Lindsey, whom later became Diana Lynn's first husband before Mortimer Hall. Scott herself tended toward secrecy in personal relationships and publicly disparaged former dates who tell all to the press. Once their date appears in the press, "... the man goes off (her) date list ... 'I think,' said Miss Scott, 'that gentlemen don't tell.'" In 1948 Burt Lancaster said of Scott: "Becoming her close friend ... is 'a long stretch at hard labor.'" In the period between 1945 to the 1970s, the press reported Scott dating Van Johnson, James Mason, plastic surgeon Gregory Pollock, Richard Quine, William Dozier, Philip Cochran, Herb Caen, Peter Lawford, Anson Bond of the clothing store chain family, Seymour Bayer of the pharmaceutical family, Marquess of Milford Haven, race-track owner Gerald "Jerry" Herzfeld, and Eddie Sutherland, among others. Burt Bacharach himself would date Scott during his breakup with Angie Dickinson. According to Bacharach: "She personified what I love about a woman, which is not too feminine but a little bit masculine. Just the strength and the coolness and the separation from the frilly woman who is always touching you and wanting something ... I think Diane Keaton had that kind of quality."
Scott made her final film appearance in her second comedy noir, Pulp (1972), a nostalgic pastiche of noir tropes starring Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney. Scott plays a man-eating cougar, Princess Betty Cippola, who lives with the Beautiful People on Malta. One of her ex-husbands is Preston Gilbert (Rooney), an expatriate Hollywood actor famous for his gangster roles. Gilbert hires a pulp writer, Mickey King (Caine), to ghost his autobiography, but murderous complications ensue. The director and screenwriter, Mike Hodges, spent a long time coaxing Scott out of retirement to fly to Malta for the shooting. Scott said that while she enjoyed the monochromic beauty of Malta, she was not pleased that most of her footage was cut out—eight scenes in all. Hodges for his part reported that Scott was challenging to work with while shooting. Scott "hadn't make a picture in 15 years and I had to really coax her into coming back." But Scott overcame her stage fright and Hodges was pleased with Scott's performance. The film premiered in London on August 16, 1972. Despite disagreements among the cast, crew and past critics, Pulp, as with the 1949 No Time for Tears, is increasingly considered an artistic success by film historians.
Since then Scott has kept away from public view and declined most interview requests. From the 1970s on, she has reportedly been engaged in real estate development and volunteer work for various charities, such as Project HOPE and the Ancient Arts Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Unlike her favorite actress, Greta Garbo, Scott's seclusion is not total. She did appear on stage at an American Film Institute tribute to Hal Wallis in 1987. In 2003, film historian Bernard F. Dick interviewed Scott for his biography of Hal Wallis. The results was an entire chapter titled "Morning Star." In the chapter, the author observed that during the interview, Scott (80 or 81-years-old) was still able to recite her opening monologue from The Skin of Our Teeth, which she had learned six decades earlier.
Despite all the films she worked on, Scott's favorite is one she never appeared in—Doctor Zhivago (1965). Ever the non-conformist, she never stopped living Ralph Waldo Emerson's precept: "Insist on yourself." Lizabeth Scott has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to motion pictures at 1624 Vine Street in Hollywood.
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