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Martha Scott

in the trailer for The Ten Commandments (1956)
Born Martha Ellen Scott
September 22, 1912(1912-09-22)
Jamesport, Missouri, U.S.
Died May 28, 2003 (aged 90)
Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Film, television and stage actress
Years active 1940–1990
Spouse(s) Mel Powell (1946-1998; his death) 2 children
Carlton Alsop (1940-1946; divorced; 1 child)

Martha Ellen Scott (September 22, 1912 – May 28, 2003) was an American actress best known for her roles as mother of the lead character in numerous films and television shows.


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] Scott became interested in acting in high school. She got her start acting in shortened Shakespeare productions at the Century of Progress world's fair in Chicago (1933-34).


Scott eventually went to New York City, where she was cast as the original Emily in the Broadway production of Our Town. Her film debut in Our Town in 1940 saw her receiving an Academy Award nomination Best Actress for her luminous and critically acclaimed performance as Emily Webb. Scott's co-star was William Holden in the role of George Gibbs. Unfortunately the censors sanitized the film's last scene after Emily has died (set in a cemetery after Emily's death during childbirth in the stage production), and allowed her to live to make for a happy ending.

She appeared in films such as The Howards of Virginia, Cheers for Miss Bishop, One Foot in Heaven, The Desperate Hours, The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, Airport 1975 and The Turning Point.

In both The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur, she played Charlton Heston's mother. She married radio producer and announcer Carlton Alsop in 1940, and jazz pianist and composer Mel Powell in 1946.


In 1968, she 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.


In the 1970s, she played Bob Newhart's mother on The Bob Newhart Show. She also played Linda Gray's 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 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.


She died in 2003 at the age of 90 from natural causes and was interred next to her husband, Mel Powell, in the Masonic Cemetery in her native Jamesport, Missouri.

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


External links



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