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Lizabeth Scott
Born Emma Matzo
September 29, 1922 (1922-09-29) (age 87)
Scranton, Pennsylvania

Lizabeth Scott (born September 29, 1922) is an American actress with Slovak ancestry who achieved much success within the film noir genre, as well as other mainstream films and music.

Contents

Early life

She was born Emma Matzo (some sources state her birth name as "Emma Motzas") in the Pine Brook section of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John and Mary Matzo, Roman Catholic immigrants from Slovakia. She attended Central High School and Marywood College.

She later went to New York City and attended the Alvienne School of Drama. In late 1942, she was eking out a precarious living with a small Midtown Manhattan summer stock company when she got a job as understudy for Tallulah Bankhead in Thornton Wilder's play The Skin of Our Teeth. However, Scott never had an opportunity to substitute for Bankhead.

Rise to fame

When Miriam Hopkins was signed to replace Bankhead, Scott quit and returned to her drama studies and some fashion modeling. She then received a call that Gladys George, who was signed to replace Hopkins, was ill, and Scott was needed back at the theatre. She went on in the leading role of "Sabina", receiving a nod of approval from critics at the tender age of 20. The following night, George was out again and Scott went on in her place.

Soon afterward, Scott was at the Stork Club when film producer Hal Wallis asked who she was, unaware that an aide had already arranged an interview with her for 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. She could not turn it down. She sent Wallis her apologies and went on the road.

Though the Broadway production, in which she was credited as "Girl", christened her "Elizabeth", she dropped the "e" the day after the opening night in Boston, "just to be different".

A photograph of Scott in Harper's Bazaar magazine was seen by movie agent Charles Feldman. He admired the fashion pose and took her on as a client. Scott made her first screen test at Warner Brothers, where she and Wallis finally met. Though the test was bad, the producer recognized her potential. As soon as Wallis set up shop at Paramount, she was signed to a contract. Her movie debut was in You Came Along (1945) opposite Robert Cummings.

Paramount publicity dubbed Scott "The Threat," in order to create an onscreen persona for her similar to Lauren Bacall or Veronica Lake. Scott's smoky sensuality and husky voice lent itself to the film noir genre and, beginning with The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin, the studio cast her in a series of noir thrillers. Film historian Eddie Muller has noted that no other actress has appeared in so many noir movies, with more than three quarters of her 20 films qualifying [1].

Don DeFore and Lizabeth Scott in a promotional still from Too Late for Tears.

The dark blonde actress was initially compared to Bacall because of a slight resemblance and a similar voice, even more so after she starred with Bacall's husband, Humphrey Bogart, in the 1947 noir thriller Dead Reckoning. At the age of 25, Scott's billing and portrait were equal to Bogart's on the film's lobby posters and in advertisements. The movie was the first of many femme fatale roles for Scott.

She also starred in Desert Fury (1947), a noir filmed in Technicolor, with John Hodiak, Burt Lancaster, Wendell Corey and Mary Astor. In it, she played Paula Haller, who, on her return from college, falls for gangster Eddie Bendix (Hodiak), and faces a great deal of opposition from the others. Scott was paired with Lancaster, Corey and Kirk Douglas in Wallis' I Walk Alone (1948), a noirish story of betrayal and vengeance. In 1949, she starred as a vicious femme fatale in Too Late for Tears. The film is unusual for featuring her as the main character, rather than the supporting role most women were relegated to in film noirs of the period.

Having being known professionally as Lizabeth Scott for 4 1/2 years, she appeared at the courthouse in Los Angeles, on October 20, 1949 and had her name legally changed. Another courtroom appearance came several years later, in 1955, when she sued Confidential magazine for stating that she spent her off-work hours with "Hollywood's weird society of baritone babes" (a euphemism for a lesbian) in an article which claimed Scott's name was found on the clients' list belonging to a call-girl agency.[2] The suit was thrown out on a technicality.

After completing Loving You (1957), Elvis Presley's second movie, Scott retired from the screen. Later that year, she would record her album, Lizabeth. The next few years saw Scott occasionally guest-star on television, including a 1963 episode of Burke's Law.

Music

After completing her final major film role, Scott signed a recording contract with Vik (a subsidiary of RCA) and recorded an album with Henri Rene and his orchestra (in Hollywood on October 28, 29 and 30, 1957). Simply titled Lizabeth, the tracks are a mixture of torch songs and playful romantic ballads. The recordings were arranged by George Wyle and Henri Rene, while Herman Diaz, Jr. produced and directed. The album is currently available on CD and online via iTunes.

Later life

Despite some rumored romances, no positive records of a relationship exist, and Scott never married or had children. In 1955, Confidential revealed that she was a lesbian.[3] While she would continue to make some guest appearances on various television shows throughout the 1960s, much of her private time was dedicated to classes at the University of Southern California.[4] In 1972, she made one final motion picture appearance, in Pulp with Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney. After that, she mostly kept away from public view and has declined many interview requests.

She did, however, appear on stage at an American Film Institute tribute to Hal Wallis in 1987. In 2001, she was listed as one of the celebrity guests for the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special, which screened in the USA on CBS. More recently, she was photographed next to an image of herself on the poster for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers at the AMPAS Centennial Celebration for Barbara Stanwyck on 16 May, 2007.

In 2003, Scott spoke substantially to Bernard F. Dick about her time in movies for his biography of producer Hal Wallis. In the book, the author remarks that during his conversation with Scott in a restaurant, Scott (then 81 years old) was able to recite her opening monologue from The Skin of Our Teeth, which she performed on stage at age 20. The book, Hal Wallis: Producer to the Stars, includes the most comprehensive account of Scott's career available.

Lizabeth Scott has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to motion pictures at 1624 Vine Street in Hollywood.

Filmography

# Title Year Studio Role Director Other cast members
1. You Came Along 1945 Paramount Ivy Hotchkiss John Farrow Robert Cummings, Don DeFore
2. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers 1946 Hal Wallis Productions/
Paramount
Toni Marachek Lewis Milestone Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Kirk Douglas
3. Dead Reckoning 1947 Columbia Coral "Dusty" Chandler John Cromwell Humphrey Bogart
4. Desert Fury 1947 Paramount Paula Haller Lewis Allen John Hodiak, Burt Lancaster, Mary Astor
5. Variety Girl 1947 Paramount Herself George Marshall Mary Hatcher, Olga San Juan, DeForest Kelley
6. I Walk Alone 1948 Paramount Kay Lawrence Byron Haskin Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas
7. Pitfall 1948 United Artists Mona Stevens André De Toth Dick Powell, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr
8. Too Late for Tears 1949 United Artists Jane Palmer Byron Haskin Don DeFore, Dan Duryea
9. Easy Living 1949 RKO Liza "Lize" Wilson Jacques Tourneur Victor Mature, Lucille Ball, Sonny Tufts
10. Paid in Full 1950 Paramount Jane Langley William Dieterle Robert Cummings, Diana Lynn
11. Dark City 1950 Paramount Fran Garland William Dieterle Charlton Heston, Viveca Lindfors
12. The Company She Keeps 1951 RKO Joan Wilburn John Cromwell Jane Greer, Dennis O'Keefe
13. Two of a Kind 1951 Columbia Brandy Kirby Henry Levin Edmund O'Brien, Terry Moore
14. Red Mountain 1951 Paramount Chris William Dieterle Alan Ladd, Arthur Kennedy
15. The Racket 1951 RKO Irene Hayes John Cromwell Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan
16. Stolen Face 1952 Hammer / Lippert Alice Brent and
Lily Conover (after surgery)
Terence Fisher Paul Henreid, André Morell
17. Scared Stiff 1953 Paramount Mary Carroll George Marshall Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Carmen Miranda
18. Bad for Each Other 1953 Columbia Helen Curtis Irving Rapper Charlton Heston, Dianne Foster
19. Silver Lode 1954 RKO Rose Evans Allan Dwan John Payne, Dan Duryea
20. The Weapon 1957 Republic Elsa Jenner Val Guest Steve Cochran, Herbert Marshall
21. Loving You 1957 Paramount Glenda Markle Hal Kanter Elvis Presley, Wendell Corey
22. Pulp 1972 United Artists Princess Betty Cippola Mike Hodges Michael Caine, Mickey Rooney

References

  1. ^ Eddie Muller commentary, The Racket, Warner Home Video, 2006
  2. ^ "Why Was Lizabeth Scott's Name in the Call Girls' Call Book?" Confidential, September 1955
  3. ^ Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons, Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians, Basic Books: New York, 2006, p. 69
  4. ^ http://books.google.com.au/books?id=y_ibD5RpKzMC&pg=RA1-PA122&lpg=RA1-PA122&dq=hal+wallis+lizabeth+scott&source=bl&ots=sNZn0w1b9G&sig=S7EZjprIXmwiBQza3Z2Hl56vcpg&hl=en&ei=KWorSo_WGoX-swOL-ujvCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9#PPA71,M1

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