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Martha Scott Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trivia (22)

Overview (3)

Born in Jamesport, Missouri, USA
Died in Van Nuys, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameMartha Ellen Scott

Mini Bio (1)

Martha Ellen Scott was born in Jamesport, Missouri, to Letha (McKinley) and Walter Alva Scott, an engineer and garage owner. She entered films in the early 1940s, following an initial appearance in stock. Her first film appearance was Our Town (1940), playing the same character as she played on the stage. She won an Academy Award nomination for her superb performance in the film. Martha Scott is remembered as a highly talented actress, however her work is often forgotten today as she was never seen as a truly bankable star by the major studios.

A recent memorable performance for Martha was as Sister Beatrice in the camp disaster movie Airport 1975 (1974). She played a dominant experienced nun with Helen Reddy, in a cast of major stars facing disaster on the stricken Boeing 747 jetliner.

She continued to work consistently throughout the 1970s and 1980s, often appearing in television movies and on the stage. She died at the age of 90 in May 2003 and is buried with her husband Mel Powell.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bobby G

Family (1)

Spouse Mel Powell (23 July 1946 - 24 April 1998)  (his death)  (2 children)
Carlton W. Alsop (25 September 1940 - 23 July 1946)  (divorced)  (1 child)

Trivia (22)

Her second husband was a protege of Benny Goodman, and singer Peggy Lee is godmother to their first daughter.
Has played Charlton Heston's mother twice - in Ben-Hur (1959) and The Ten Commandments (1956) and his wife twice on stage.
Her mother - Letha McKinley Scott - was a second cousin to President William McKinley.
Received her Bachelor of Arts degree in drama from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan (1934).
She is survived by her brother, Charles Scott, her son, Carleton Scott Alsop, and two daughters, Mary Powell Harper and Kathleen Powell.
She had previously played Charlton Heston's wife in a rather less celebrated period drama, a play called "Design for a Stained-Glass Window". She was hired for Ben-Hur (1959), at Heston's suggestion, when the original actress was sacked. A couple of years later a similar situation occurred when Heston was due to appear in the play "The Tumbler". The actress hired to play his wife was sacked and Heston again suggested Scott. "I could vouch for her absolutely, both as actress and pro," he said in his memoirs.
Following her death, she was interred with her husband Mel Powell at Masonic Cemetery in Jamesport, Missouri.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in drama from the University of Michigan in 1934, she appeared in plays by William Shakespeare at the 1933-1934 Chicago World's Fair before coming to New York.
First husband Carlton Alsop was a radio and film producer. She had one son, Carleton Scott Alsop, and later had two daughters with her second husband, composer Mel Powell -- Mary and Kathleen.
Formed a partnership with actors Robert Ryan and Henry Fonda in 1968. They co-founded the theatrical production company Plumstead Playhouse in New York, later called the Plumstead Theatre Society. They co-produced the Broadway production of "First Monday in October" starring Fonda and Jane Alexander, as well as the movie version (First Monday in October (1981)) with Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh. She also produced an L.A. production of "Twelve Angry Men" in 1985.
She was the second actress cast in the Broadway role of "Emily Webb" after the actress initially cast was dropped by producer/director Jed Harris for not making the difficult transition in character after Emily dies in childbirth. The role made Martha a theatre star. Ironically, when she took her part to film, the last act was rewritten to include a happier ending wherein Emily does not die. It was a huge misjudgment on the part of the producers and for this almost sacrilegious flaw, the film version, Our Town (1940), is not considered the classic it should be, even though it is beautifully rendered and interpreted in every other way.
Unusually, she was not a part of the Memorial Tribute at The 76th Annual Academy Awards (2004), even though she was a member of the Academy and was also a previous nominee in 1940.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Live Theatre at 6126 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on April 23, 1993.
Was offered the role of Mary Hatch Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) after Jean Arthur turned it down, but she also turned down the role. Donna Reed was cast instead and this went on to be one of her most famous performances.
Martha Ellen Scott passed away on May 28, 2003, four months away from what would have been her 91st birthday on September 22.
She was a member of Delta Gamma women's fraternity (Xi-Michigan chapter).
She was a very active member of both the Hollywood Democratic Committee and the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and donated her time and money to many liberal causes (such as the creation of the United Nations and the Civil Rights Movement) and political candidates (including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Henry Wallace, Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Al Gore) during her lifetime.
Her first husband, Carlton Alsop, was previously married to another movie star, Sylvia Sidney.
Although she played Charlton Heston's mother in The Ten Commandments (1956) and Ben-Hur (1959), she was only eleven years his senior in real life.
Although she played John Carradine's mother in The Ten Commandments (1956), she was six years his junior in real life.
Although she played Olive Deering's mother The Ten Commandments (1956), she was only six years her senior in real life.
Was in six Oscar Best Picture nominees: Our Town (1940), One Foot in Heaven (1941), The Ten Commandments (1956), Sayonara (1957), Ben-Hur (1959) and The Turning Point (1977). Ben-Hur is the only winner.

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