One of the finest American actors of his generation, George C. Scott was born in Virginia and raised in Detroit. After serving in the Marines from 1945 to 1949, Scott enrolled at the University of Missouri, determined to become an actor. Though his truculent demeanor and raspy voice would seem to typecast him in unpleasant roles, Scott exhibited an astonishing range of characterizations during his seven years in regional repertory theater. He also found time to teach a drama course at Stephens College.
By the time Scott moved to New York in 1957, he was in full command of his craft; yet, because he was largely unknown outside of the repertory circuit, he considered himself a failure. While supporting himself as an IBM machine operator, Scott auditioned for producer Joseph Papp. Cast as the title character in Papp's production of Richard III, Scott finally achieved the stardom and critical adulation that had so long eluded him. Amidst dozens of choice television guest-starring performances, Scott made his movie debut in 1959's The Hanging Tree. That same year, he earned the first of four Oscar nominations for his incisive portrayal of big-city attorney Claude Dancer in Anatomy of a Murder. Over the next few years, Scott appeared in a dizzying variety of roles, ranging from Paul Newman's mercenary manager Bert Gordon in The Hustler (1961) to erudite British detective Anthony Gethryn in The List of Adrian Messenger (1962) to ape-like General "Buck" Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove (1963). After turning down several TV series offers, Scott accepted the role of social director Neil Brock on the David Susskind-produced "relevance" weekly East Side/West Side (1963-1964). He left the series in a huff in early 1964, citing the censorial idiocies of the program's network and sponsors; he also vowed to never again appear in a TV series -- at least until 1987, when the Fox network offered him 100,000 dollars per episode to star in the nonsensical sitcom Mr. President.