Martha Scott

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Martha Scott

in the trailer for The Ten Commandments (1956)
BornMartha Ellen Scott
(1912-09-22)September 22, 1912
Jamesport, Missouri, U.S.
DiedMay 28, 2003(2003-05-28) (aged 90)
Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationFilm, television and stage actress
Years active1940–1990
Spouse(s)Mel Powell (1946-1998; his death) 2 children
Carlton Alsop (1940-1946; divorced; 1 child)
ChildrenCarlton Scott Alsop
Mary Powell Harpel
Kathleen Powell
ParentsWalter Scott (father)
Letha McKinley (mother)
 
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Martha Scott

in the trailer for The Ten Commandments (1956)
BornMartha Ellen Scott
(1912-09-22)September 22, 1912
Jamesport, Missouri, U.S.
DiedMay 28, 2003(2003-05-28) (aged 90)
Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationFilm, television and stage actress
Years active1940–1990
Spouse(s)Mel Powell (1946-1998; his death) 2 children
Carlton Alsop (1940-1946; divorced; 1 child)
ChildrenCarlton Scott Alsop
Mary Powell Harpel
Kathleen Powell
ParentsWalter Scott (father)
Letha McKinley (mother)

Martha Ellen Scott (September 22, 1912 – May 28, 2003) was an Oscar -nominated American actress. She was featured in major films like Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, and Our Town Scott often appeared in supporting roles as the mother of the lead character in numerous films and television shows.

Contents

Early life

Scott was born in Jamesport, Missouri, the daughter of Letha (née McKinley) and Walter Scott, an engineer and garage owner; her mother was a second-cousin of U.S. President William McKinley.[1][2] The Scott family remained in Jamesport until Martha was thirteen years old when they moved to Kansas City, Missouri and eventually to Detroit Michigan.[3] Scott became interested in acting in high school, an interest she furthered by attending the University of Michigan, earning a Bachelors Degree in Drama in 1934.[3]

Career

Stage

Martha Scott received a career boost right out of college when she appeared with the Globe Theatre Troupe in a series of Shakespeare productions at the Century of Progress world's fair in Chicago in 1934.[4] Following that she moved to New York City, where she found steady work both in stock stage productions and in radio dramas. In 1938 she made her Broadway debut in the original staging of Thornton Wilder's play Our Town as Emily Webb, the tragic young woman who dies in childbirth.[5]

Film

Two years later Martha Scott reprised the role of Emily in her film debut as Our Town was brought to the silver screen. Her critically acclaimed performance earned Scott an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The newcomer Scott was up against some of Hollywood's biggest names for the award -- Katharine Hepburn, Joan Fontaine, Bette Davis, and the winner Ginger Rogers. [5] With an Oscar nomination on her resume' Scott found steady movie work for the next four decades, appearing in some major epics like The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, The Desperate Hours, and Airport 1975. Charlton Heston was a frequent co-star with Scott on both stage and screen, as she told an interviewer in 1988: "I played his mother twice and his wife twice. I was his mother in Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments. I was his wife on the stage in New York in Design For a Stained Glass Window and The Tumbler in London."[5]

Producer

In 1968, Scott joined Henry Fonda and Robert Ryan in forming a theatrical production company called "The Plumstead Playhouse". It later became the Plumstead Theatre Company and moved to Los Angeles. The company produced First Monday in October, both on stage and on film (Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh appeared in the film). Scott co-produced both versions. Her last production was Twelve Angry Men, which was performed at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Television

In the 1970s, she played Bob Newhart's mother on The Bob Newhart Show. She also played Patricia Shepard, Sue Ellen and Kristin's controlling mother on Dallas and Lee Majors' mother on The Six Million Dollar Man. She was also a surrogate mother of sorts to Lindsay Wagner on The Bionic Woman. In 1975, she portrayed Gena Rowlands' wealthy mother, who is murdered by her son-in-law (played by Oskar Werner) in Playback, an episode of Columbo. In 1983, she appeared in an episode of Magnum, P.I., and in the television movie Adam. In the late 1980s, she and Jeffrey Lynn acted in an episode of Murder, She Wrote, which was a direct sequel to their 1949 feature film Strange Bargain.

Personal life

Martha Scott was twice-married. First to radio producer and announcer Carlton Alsop from 1940 to 1946, and then to jazz pianist and composer Mel Powell from 1946 until his death in 1998.[6] She had one child with Alsop, son Carlton Scott Alsop, and two daughters -- Mary Powell Harpel and Kathleen Powell -- with her second husband. According to son Scott his mother never forgot about her childhood hometown, using the mental image of a Jamesport cemetery in preparation for her Oscar-nominated role in Our Town. Said Alsop "She told me she used that place as her image because it's so serene and beautiful" and that her deceased McKinley and Scott relatives "became the Gibbs and the Webbs in the play."[3] Martha Scott died on May 8, 2003 in California. Per her last wishes she was interred next to her husband, Mel Powell, in the Masonic Cemetery in her native Jamesport, Missouri.

Honors

Martha Scott has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, next to the Fonda Theatre.

Partial filmography

References

External links