Martha Scott

Active - 1940 - 2003  |   Born - Sep 22, 1912   |   Died - May 28, 2003   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Direct from the University of Michigan, actress Martha Scott made her first professional appearance with the Globe Theatre troupe, performing abridged versions of Shakespeare at the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. Scott then worked extensively in stock and on radio before making her celebrated Broadway bow as Emily Webb in the original 1938 production of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning Our Town. She repeated the role of Emily in the 1940 film version, earning an Oscar nomination despite the fact that the film's tacked-on happy ending rendered Scott's famous "back from the dead" monologue pointless. Scott's subsequent film assignments, notably Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941) and One Foot in Heaven (1941), found her portraying characters far older than herself with total credibility. Having previously played both the wife and the sister of Charlton Heston (nine years her junior) on stage and TV, Scott portrayed Heston's mother on the big screen in The Ten Commandments (1955) and Ben-Hur (1959). Her television resumé includes the 1954 anthology Modern Romance, which she hosted, and the roles of Mrs. Patricia Shepard and Margaret Millington in, respectively, Dallas and Secrets of Midland Heights. Her most intriguing TV assignment was the 1987 Murder She Wrote episode "Strangest of Bargains," wherein, with the help of extensive stock footage, Scott, Jeffrey Lynn and Harry Morgan reprised their roles from the 1949 film Strange Bargain. Dabbling in producing in the 1970s, Scott served as co-producer of the 1978 Broadway play First Monday in October, functioning in the same capacity when the play was turned into a film in 1981. Martha Scott was married for many years to musician Mel Powell.

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