1945-49: Served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
1950: Attended the University of Missouri Journalism School for one year, where he began taking drama classes.
According to a "Time" magazine cover-story (March 22, 1971), Scott once had to go back on-stage during a Broadway play with his hand in a rubber glove after punching the mirror in his dressing room. The broken glass cut his hand and the flow of blood could not be stanched. This was in the days of Scott's heavy drinking, which was caused by an inner-torment and self-loathing. Scott had turned to acting to exorcise those demons, and by the time of his success with Patton (1970) had largely succeeded, according to the magazine profile.
According to his Patton (1970) co-star Karl Malden, Scott caused a shooting delay on the set of that movie by holding an impromptu "ping-pong" tournament against a world-champion table-tennis player. Scott, who was in full costume as Gen. Patton, kept losing to the world champ and was determined to keep playing him all night, if need be, until winning at least one set.
Although he refused the Oscar he won for Patton (1970), he accepted the Emmy he won for his performance in the _"Hallmark Hall of Fame" (1959) 1971 production of Arthur Miller's "The Price", saying that he felt that the Emmy Awards were a more honest appreciation of an actor's work.
An aficionado of acting, he told interviewer Lawrence Grobel in his December 1980 "Playboy" magazine interview that his The Hustler (1961) co-star Paul Newman's performance in that film was nothing special (both actors were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances). However, he found Newman's performance as the eponymous Hud (1963) to be a superb piece of acting.
Best known for playing the legendary Gen. George S. Patton.
Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 550-551. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 Democratic primaries, and for George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election.
During filming of The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966), Scott and Ava Gardner, who had been in a tempestuous relationship for a few years, drank heavily. His drinking and his explosive temper resulted in Scott beating Gardner. He broke her shoulder and during some of the filming she was in a body brace.
He accepted the role of Sheriff Gillespie in In the Heat of the Night (1967), according to producer Walter Mirisch's memoir "I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History." Scott backed out when wife Colleen Dewhurst wanted him to direct her in a play on Broadway. Mirisch then offered the role to Rod Steiger, who accepted and won an Oscar. Steiger later turned down the lead in Patton (1970) that went to Scott, which brought him an Oscar.
He had six children: Daughter Victoria (b. December 19th 1952) with Carolyn Hughes. Daughter Michelle (b. August 21st 1954) with Karen Truesdell. Son Matthew (b. May 27th 1957) and daughter Devon Scott (b. November 29th 1958) with Patricia Reed. Sons Alexander Scott (b. August 1960) and Campbell Scott (b. July 19th 1961) with 'Colleen Dewhurst'.
He joined the Marines Corps as a 17-year old in 1945, but the atomic bomb brought an end to World War II before he could see combat. After the war, he served time at Arlington National Cemetery. According to the March 22, 1971 "Time" magazine cover-story on Scott, this was the time that he began to drink heavily, as the grave detail was extremely depressing.
He played Lt. William "Bill" Kinderman in The Exorcist III (1990). His ex-wife Colleen Dewhurst was the voice of Satan in the film. Son Campbell Scott played Ethan Thomas in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005).
His performance as Gen. George S. Patton in Patton (1970) is ranked #82 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
In his autobiography, Marlon Brando, Scott's co-star in the film The Formula (1980) -- in a caption for a picture from the film -- recounts that Scott asked him during the shooting of the film whether he, Brando, would ever give the same line-reading twice. Brando replied, "I know you know a cue when you hear one.".
Played three roles originated by actor Lee J. Cobb. He played Lt. Kinderman in The Exorcist III (1990), which was played by Cobb in the original The Exorcist (1973). Scott later played Juror #3 in the remake of 12 Angry Men (1997) (TV), a role played by Cobb in the original film (12 Angry Men (1957)). He also received a Tony nomination for playing Cobb's signature role of Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman" on Broadway.
Scott and Marlon Brando played chess together while shooting The Formula (1980). In his Playboy interview of December 1980 (Vol. 27, Iss. 12, pg. 81- 138), Scott told Lawrence Grobel--who had conducted the famous interview with Brando for Playboy a year earlier--that Marlon was not that good a player. Many years later, Christiane Kubrick leveled the same charge against Scott, who was beaten regularly by her late husband Stanley Kubrick on the set of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) between setups. Kubrick, however, was renowned as a master-level chess player who used to hustle other players in his youth in New York City.
Suffered several heart attacks in his last years.
The only products that Scott ever endorsed in a TV commercial shown in the USA were the Renault Alliance sedan and Encore coupe (later the Alliance coupe), built in the USA by American Motors.