Gig Young

Gig Young

"Gig knew real pain" - his agent, Martin Baum, speaking at his memorial service.

Adopted the name Gig Young verbatim from that of the character he portrayed in The Gay Sisters (1942).

After not renewing his Warners Bros. contract in 1948, he subsequently signed with Columbia but was unhappy with their unfulfilled promises, and kept rejecting roles until he wore out his welcome there.

Attended McKinley High School in Washington D.C.

Cast in Blazing Saddles (1974) as the Waco Kid. Replaced by Mel Brooks with Gene Wilder shortly after filming began because the alcoholic Young was suffering from delirium tremens on the set.

Daughter, Jennifer Young, was born in 1964.

Dreaming of a comeback on Broadway, Young had recently appeared in a Canadian tour of the play "Nobody Loves an Albatross" by Ronald Alexander before his October 19, 1978 suicide.

Earned a scholarship at the Pasadena Playhouse and worked as a garage mechanic and parking lot attendant on the side.

Ex-son-in-law of David S. Garber.

First wife, Sheila Stapler, was an actress. His second wife, Sophia Rosenstein, was a drama coach he met while she was working at Warner Brothers and who died a little over a year later from cancer. Divorced also from actress Elizabeth Montgomery before her "Bewitched" (1964) fame. He had his only child, Jennifer Young, (born in 1964), from his fourth marriage to Elaine Young, a Realtor and sometime performer.

His father was a chef for a St. Cloud reformatory in Minnesota, and also had his own home canning business.

His film career was interrupted by WWII duty with the Coast Guard, serving in the Pacific for three years.

His will, which covered a $200,000 estate, left his Academy Award to his agent, Martin Baum, and Baum's wife. The wording of the will called it "the Oscar that I won because of Martin's help". New York City police found the statuette beside the bodies of Young and his wife.

Once romantically involved with fellow alcoholic Elaine Stritch. Their destructive relationship is poignantly discussed in Elaine's Tony-winning one-woman show Elaine Stritch: At Liberty (2002) (TV). He met actress Elizabeth Montgomery shortly after their aborted engagement.

Portrayed by Steve Hughes in James Dean: Race with Destiny (1997) (TV).

Was originally cast as the voice of Charles Townsend for the TV Series "Charlie's Angels" (1976), but was too drunk to record his lines and was replaced at the last minute by John Forsythe.

When Gig's former agent, Martin Baum, became the president of ABC Pictures, he insisted that Gig play Rocky, the seamy dance marathon emcee, in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). The backers of the movie, as well as Jane Fonda, the film's star, were initially shocked and furious because Gig was known for his comedy forte and that he had severe personal problems. Red Buttons, another co-star, was also given the same boost and the two actors relied upon each other for solace. Young and Buttons were brilliant and Young won the Oscar. Baum also helped get Gig sizable roles in Lovers and Other Strangers (1970) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974).

While it was common knowledge that Gig had an alcohol problem, some of his best roles were as heavy drinkers, such as in Come Fill the Cup (1951), They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) and as Ray Whitehead on the TV series "Gibbsville" (1976).

Young is considered the ultimate victim of the Oscar curse, so-called because many Academy Award winners have seen their careers decline or reach a dead-end after winning the ultimate accolade from their peers. According to his fourth wife Elaine Young, "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." Young was shattered when that opportunity did not materialize. "For Gig, the Oscar was literally the kiss of death, the end of the line", according to Elaine.