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Lizabeth Scott

Lizabeth Scott
Lizabeth Scott, 1947
Born Emma Matzo
(1922-09-29)September 29, 1922
Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died January 31, 2015(2015-01-31) (aged 92)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Congestive heart failure
Other names Elizabeth Scott
Alma mater Alvienne School of the Theatre
Occupation Actress, singer, model
Years active 1942–1972
Political party Republican
Religion Catholic

Lizabeth Virginia Scott[1] (September 29, 1922 – January 31, 2015) was an American film actress, known for her "smoky voice"[2] and "the most beautiful face of film noir during the 1940s and 1950s."[3] After understudying the role of Sabina in the original Broadway and Boston stage productions of The Skin of Our Teeth, she emerged internationally in such films as The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Dead Reckoning (1947), Desert Fury (1947) and Too Late for Tears (1949). Of her 22 feature films, she was leading lady in all but one. In addition to stage and radio, she appeared on television from the late 1940s to early 1970s.


  • Early life 1
  • Debut 2
  • Rise to fame 3
    • Hal Wallis 3.1
    • California 3.2
  • Paramount years 4
    • The Threat 4.1
      • Martha Ivers 4.1.1
      • Dead Reckoning 4.1.2
    • Other films 4.2
      • 1940s 4.2.1
      • 1950s 4.2.2
  • Critical reception 5
  • Radio 6
  • Confidential 7
    • Rushmore's story 7.1
    • 1957 mistrial 7.2
  • Music 8
  • Later years 9
    • Television 9.1
    • Fiancé 9.2
    • Nostalgia 9.3
  • Filmography 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life

She was born Emma Matzo[4] in Scranton, Pennsylvania,[5][6] oldest of six children born to John Matzo (1895–1968)[7] and Mary Matzo née Pennock[8] (1899–1981). Reference works[9][10][11] and biographies[12][13][14] have given conflicting accounts of the ethnic origins of her parents.[15][16][17][18] Her family lived in the Pine Brook section of Scranton, where John Matzo owned Matzo Market.[19] Scott characterized her father as a "lifelong Republican," which influenced her own capitalistic views. The family was immersed in all things cultural, especially music. This love of music influenced Scott's voice.[20]

Scott's accent, timbre and tempo were molded beginning in first grade. Her parents sent her to weekly lessons at a local elocution school.[21] As a result, she lost the Northeast Pennsylvania English spoken in the Scranton area. Her trademark broad A[22] is characteristic of Mid-Atlantic English.[23][24][25] Scott herself attributed the tone of her voice to heredity, as a younger sister had a similarly deep voice.[26] In addition, she received six years of piano lessons and two of voice.[27]

As a young girl, working in her father's store, she dreamed of being a journalist, then an opera singer and finally an actress.[28] At the age of 11, she was the Fairy Godmother in a pantomime play, Cinderella, at summer camp.[29] During Christmas season, she took part in pageants at the local Catholic church her family attended. When asked what was the best advice she was given, Scott replied, "I don't know, but I sure didn't take it." Her mother told her to subdue her emotions and "be a lady," but despite a strict Catholic upbringing, Scott described herself as having been "rebellious and outspoken" as a young girl.[27]

Scott attended Marywood Seminary, a local Catholic girls' school.[30] She transferred to Scranton's Central High School, where she performed in several plays.[8] After graduating, she spent the summer working with the Mae Desmond Players[31] at a stock theater in the nearby community of Newfoundland.[32] She then worked at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia.[33] That autumn, she attended Marywood College, but quit after six months.[27] Mary Matzo wanted her daughter to become a journalist, but when Scott said she would become either a stage actress or a nun, her mother relented.

In 1939, with her father's help, the 17-year-old Scott moved to New York City, where she stayed at the Ferguson Residence for Women.[34] Scott attended the Alvienne School of the Theatre.[35][36] There she studied for 18 months,[27] resisting attempts by teachers to pitch her voice higher.[37] During this time, Scott read Maxwell Anderson's Mary of Scotland, a play about Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, from which she derived the stage name "Elizabeth Scott." She later dropped the "E".[28]


In late 1940, an 18-year-old Scott auditioned for Hellzapoppin (1938). From several hundred women, she was chosen by vaudevillians John "Ole" Olsen and Harold "Chic" Johnson, stars of the original Broadway production. She was assigned to one of three road companies, Scott's being led by Billy House and Eddie Garr.[38] Landing her first professional job, she was billed as "Elizabeth Scott."[39] The tour opened November 3, 1940 at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. She did blackouts and other types of sketch comedy[40][41] during her 18-month tour of 63 cities across the US.[5]

Scott returned to New York in the spring of 1942, where she joined a summer stock company at the 52nd Street Theatre[42] on the subway circuit,[43] the then equivalent of off-Broadway. Eventually, she starred as Sadie Thompson in John Colton's play Rain (1923). Though no drama critic reviewed the play,[44] a press agent for new actresses, Joe Russell—known locally as "The Man who meets the Greyhound Bus"[45]—persuaded a producer with a problem to see it.[46]

Michael Myerberg had just moved an experimental production from New Haven, Connecticut, to the Plymouth Theatre. Impressed by Scott's Sadie Thompson, he hired her as the understudy for Tallulah Bankhead despite Bankhead's protests. Bankhead was the star of Thornton Wilder's then new play, The Skin of Our Teeth (1942). Bankhead had previously signed a contract forbidding an understudy for the Sabina role, which Myerberg breached by hiring Scott—rumors of an affair between the married Myerberg and the new understudy were rife.[47] Scott has said that her fondest memory was of Myerberg telling her, "I love you," but the two eventually parted.[48]

Previously, Bankhead controlled the production by not showing up for rehearsal. Now Myerberg could simply put Scott in Bankhead's place.[47] Scott has acknowledged that Myerberg used her to keep Bankhead under control and that Bankhead was furious about the situation.[5] Describing her own experience with Bankhead, Scott recalled, "She never spoke to me, except to bark out commands. Finally, one day, I'd had enough. I told her to say 'please,' and after that she did."[34] The rivalry between the two actresses is cited as an alternative to the Martina Lawrence-Elizabeth Bergner origin[49] of Mary Orr's short story, The Wisdom of Eve (1946),[50] the basis of the 1950 film All About Eve. Broadway legend had it that Bankhead was being victimized by Scott, who was supposedly the real-life Eve Harrington.[51] During the eight months[52] as the understudy, Scott never had an opportunity to substitute for Bankhead, as Scott's presence guaranteed Bankhead's. Scott was cast as "Girl/Drum Majorette."[53][54] Scott was 20 years old when the play opened—Bankhead was 40. Though the play ran from November 18, 1942 to September 25, 1943, Scott left the production during Miriam Hopkins' tenure.[5][55]

Rise to fame

Hal Wallis

The continuing feud between Myerberg and Bankhead worsened her ulcer, leading her to not renew her contract.[56] Anticipating Bankhead's move, Myerberg suddenly signed 39-year-old

External links

  1. ^ Janice H. McElroy (Pennsylvania Division, American Association of University Women, June 1, 1983), Our Hidden Heritage: Pennsylvania Women in History, p. 379
  2. ^ [49] Anonymous (February 8, 2015; accessed March 24, 2015), "Film noir femme fatale Lizabeth Scott dies at 92," Catholic Online (Los Angeles, California)
  3. ^ a b [50] Anonymous (March 16, 2015; accessed March 23, 2015), "Lizabeth Scott, actress—obituary," The Telegraph (London, England)
  4. ^ [51] FamilySearch (accessed May 23, 2014) "Emma Matzo in household of John Matzo, 'United States Census, 1930.'" FamilySearch. Emma Matzo is the name given in the 1930 US Census, April 8, 1930, which lists Emma Matzo, aged 8, daughter of John and Mary Matzo.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Carole Langer (Soapbox & Praeses Productions, 1996; accessed May 23, 2014), Lizabeth Scott 1996 Interview Part 1 of 8
  6. ^ AP (Friday, October 21, 1949), "Star Changes Name," The San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California), p. 25. AP article gives Scott's birthplace as Dunmore, Pennsylvania, while Scott gives her birthplace as Scranton in the Langer video interview.
  7. ^ [52] FamilySearch (accessed May 23, 2014), "John Matzo in household of John Munchak, 'United States Census, 1920'," FamilySearch
  8. ^ a b c Janice H. McElroy (Pennsylvania Division, American Association of University Women, June 1, 1983), Our Hidden Heritage: Pennsylvania Women in History, p. 380
  9. ^ Walter Dushnyck, Nicholas L. Chirovsky (Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, November 1, 1991), The Ukrainian Heritage in America, p. 331. Scott is described as Carpatho-Ukrainian.
  10. ^ Andrew Spicer (Scarecrow Press, March 19, 2010), Historical Dictionary of Film Noir, p. 273. Spicer says "Born Emma Matzo to Slovakian parents ..."
  11. ^ Paul R. Magocsi (The Multicultural Society of Ontario, 1984), Our people: Carpatho-Rusyns and their descendants in North America, p. 71. "Among other performers to achieve national success are two actresses from Hollywood. Lizabeth Scott (born Emma Matzo), the daughter of Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants from Subcarpathian Rus', played the role of a sultry leading lady in several films during the late 1940s and early 1950s."
  12. ^ James Robert Parish (Arlington House, 1972), The Paramount Pretties, p. 519. The father is described as English-born and the mother as Russian.
  13. ^ Bernard F. Dick (The University Press of Kentucky, May 21, 2004), Hal Wallis: Producer to the Stars, p. 96. John Matzo is described as Italian and Mary Matzo as Slovakian.
  14. ^ [53] Robert D. McFadden (February 6, 2015; accessed February 7, 2015), "Lizabeth Scott, Film Noir Siren, Dies at 92," New York Times (New York City, New York). Obituary describes her as "one of six children of Ukrainian immigrants").
  15. ^ Carole Langer (Soapbox & Praeses Productions, 1996; accessed May 23, 2014), Lizabeth Scott 1996 Interview Part 5 of 8. Scott described herself in the interview as having "Russian blood."
  16. ^ J. D. Spiro (September 11, 1949), "Lizabeth Is So Different," The Milwaukee Journal (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), p. 3. Interview repeats Paramount publicity about Scott's alleged "English father" and "White Russian" mother."
  17. ^ [54] AP (February 7, 2015; accessed February 8, 2015), "Lizabeth Scot, Sultry '40s, '50s Film Noir Star, Dies at 92," New York Times (New York City, New York). Obituary repeats 1940s Paramount publicity: "She was born ... to English–Russian parents."
  18. ^ [55] Anonymous (March 16, 2015; accessed March 23, 2015), "Lizabeth Scott, actress—obituary," The Telegraph (London, England). "Her father’s family originated from Sussex (county, England)..."
  19. ^ Alfred N. Hare (Thursday, June 28, 1934), "Mercantile Appraisement," The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania), p. 18. Store address is 1001 Capouse (Avenue). The grocery store was on the ground floor of the Matzos' two-story house.
  20. ^ a b c Burt Prelutsky (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, November 3, 2012), Sixty Seven Conservatives You Should Meet Before You Die, p. 470
  21. ^ a b Bernard F. Dick (The University Press of Kentucky, May 21, 2004), Hal Wallis: Producer to the Stars, p. 96
  22. ^ a b Gene Hansaker (Tuesday, February 26, 1946), In Hollywood, Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan), p. 7
  23. ^ Barbara Acker (Applause Books, February 1, 2000), The Vocal Vision: Views on Voice, pp. 161–162. Mid-Atlantic is referred as "World English" using a broad A as opposed to the US flat A.
  24. ^ Sandra Rennie (Mineco Designs, 1998), "Editor's Letter," Plays and Players Applause, Issue 521, p. 16. The mid-Atlantic accent is described as evoking old Hollywood black-and-white films and actresses like Lizabeth Scott.
  25. ^ [56] David Patrick Columbia (February 10. 2015; accessed February 11, 2015), "Remembering Lizabeth," New York Social Diary. Columbia notes Scott's "extreme mid-Atlantic accent that movie stars in her youth were schooled in."
  26. ^ a b Howard C. Heyn (Sunday, November 28, 1948), "Lush, Sultry and Single," "The Salt Lake Tribune" (Salt Lake City, Utah), p. 75
  27. ^ a b c d e James Robert Parish (Arlington House, 1972), The Paramount Pretties, p. 519
  28. ^ a b Karen Burroughs Hannsberry (McFarland & Company, 1998), Femme Noir: Bad Girls of Film, p. 445
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  30. ^ Anonymous (Saturday, June 3, 1933), "Marywood Seminary Pupils Give Recital," The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania), p. 6
  31. ^ [57] Joseph Myers (January 26, 2012; accessed May 23, 2014), University of the Arts lauds Mae Desmond: A new musical will address the life of a Queen Village theatrical legend
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  33. ^ a b David Ragan (Prentice Hall, July 1, 1985), Movie Stars of the '40s, p. 191"
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  36. ^ Bernard F. Dick (The University Press of Kentucky, May 21, 2004), Hal Wallis: Producer to the Stars, pp. 96–97. This school was housed in the Grand Opera House on 8th Avenue and 23rd Street, New York City.
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  278. ^ Darden Asbury Pyron (University Of Chicago Press, June 1, 2001), Liberace: An American Boy, p. 223. Maureen O'Hara settled out-of-court on July 2, 1958. Errol Flynn settled July 8, 1958. Liberace settled on July 16, 1958. O'Hara, Flynn and Liberace were only witnesses for the prosecution and not plaintiffs in the California trial. None of the other lawsuits—from Lizabeth Scott's to Maureen O'Hara's—ever went to trial.
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  327. ^ Steven Paul Davies (Batsford, 1st edition, March 1, 2003), Get Carter and Beyond: The Cinema of Mike Hodges, p. 64
  328. ^ Michael Bowlin (Sunday, July 2, 1989), "Actress Lizabeth Scott doesn't give interviews," I Wonder What Happened To ... ? The Kerrville Times (Kerrville, Texas), p. 50
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  335. ^ [96] Anonymous (accessed May, 2014), "Lizabeth Scott at Walk of Fame," Hollywood Walk of Fame



Lizabeth Scott has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to motion pictures at 1624 Vine Street in Hollywood.[335]

Scott's favorite film was one she never appeared in—Doctor Zhivago (1965).[34] Ever the non-conformist,[126] she never stopped living Ralph Waldo Emerson's precept: "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."[333] Scott died of congestive heart failure at the age of 92 on January 31, 2015.[334]

Unlike her favorite actress, American Film Institute tribute to Wallis in 1987 and fondly recalled her time with him. In 2003, film historian Bernard F. Dick interviewed Scott for his biography of Wallis. The results was an entire chapter titled "Morning Star." In the chapter, the author observed that during the interview, Scott (then 80 or 81 years old) was still able to recite her opening monologue from The Skin of Our Teeth, which she had learned six decades earlier.[332]

After that, Scott kept away from public view and declined most interview requests.[328] From the 1970s on, she was engaged in real estate development[329] and volunteer work for various charities, such as Project HOPE[330][331] and the Ancient Arts Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,[8] where she was a major donor.[195]

Scott made her final film appearance in her second comedy noir, Pulp (1972), a nostalgic pastiche of noir tropes[325] starring Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney. The director and screenwriter, Mike Hodges, spent a long time coaxing Scott out of retirement to fly to Malta for the shooting. Scott said that while she enjoyed the monochromic beauty of Malta, she was not pleased that most of her footage was cut out—eight scenes in all.[326] Hodges for his part reported that Scott was challenging to work with while shooting. Scott "hadn't make a picture in 15 years and I had to really coax her into coming back." But Scott overcame her stage fright and Hodges was pleased with Scott's performance. Despite disagreements among the cast, crew and past critics, Pulp, as with the 1949 Too Late for Tears, is increasingly considered an artistic success by film historians.[327]


In 1948 Scott was reportedly divorced from Russian Prince Stass Reed,[306] In 1953, Scott was briefly engaged to architect John C. Lindsey,[307] who later became Diana Lynn's first husband before Mortimer Hall.[308] Despite the Confidential article, Scott remained active on the Hollywood dating circuit. But the allegations continued to haunt her. A friend, David Patrick Columbia, noted: "One night driving her home from a party we’d been to, she remarked apropos of nothing we’d been talking about, 'and you know David, I am not a lesbian.'"[195] Scott herself tended toward secrecy about her personal relationships and publicly disparaged former dates who told all to the press. Once their date appears in the press, "... the man goes off [my] date list ... 'I think,' said Miss Scott, 'that gentlemen don't tell.'"[309] In 1948, Burt Lancaster said of Scott: "Becoming her close friend ... is 'a long stretch at hard labor.'"[26] In the period between 1945 to the 1970s, the press reported Scott dating Van Johnson,[22] James Mason,[310] Helmut Dantine,[311] plastic surgeon Gregory Pollock,[312] Richard Quine,[313] William Dozier,[314] Philip Cochran,[315] Herb Caen,[316] Peter Lawford,[317] Anson Bond of the clothing store chain family,[318] Seymour Bayer of the pharmaceutical family,[319] Marquess of Milford Haven,[320] race-track owner Gerald "Jerry" Herzfeld,[321] and Eddie Sutherland,[322] among others. Burt Bacharach dated Scott during his breakup with Angie Dickinson.[323] According to Bacharach: "She personified what I love about a woman, which is not too feminine but a little bit masculine. Just the strength and the coolness and the separation from the frilly woman who is always touching you and wanting something ... I think Diane Keaton had that kind of quality."[324]

Previous to Dugger, several books claimed Scott was a mistress of Hal Wallis, then married to actress Louise Fazenda.[148][300][301][302] Wallis had a falling out with Scott around the time of Bad for Each Other, with recriminations on Wallis' part. After Scott freelanced for a few years, Wallis made an effort to revive the relationship by making Scott the leading lady opposite Presley, as it might be his last chance to star Scott in anything.[303] After shooting was completed, Scott walked away from film acting to try her hand at singing. The 14-year-relationship that began at the Stork Club in 1943 came to an end. Scott herself knew the relationship was over—only Wallis remained in denial. After Louise's death in 1962, Wallis went into a depression and became a recluse before marrying Martha Hyer in 1966. In later life, he was reticent on the subject of Scott,[304] despite an unjealous Hyer urging him to include Scott and his other mistresses in his autobiography. Though Casablanca was the film Wallis was most proud of, the ones he watched repeatedly were those starring Lizabeth Scott. Even during his second marriage, Wallis continued to screen Scott's films at home, night after night.[305]

In May 1969, the future wedding of Scott to oil executive William Dugger of San Antonio, Texas was announced[295] after a two-year engagement.[296] In late 1969, musician Rexino Mondo was helping Scott decorate her fiance's mansion on Mulholland Drive before the wedding: "Liz ... introduced me to her fiance, Texas oil baron William Lafayette Dugger, Jr. He was in his late forties, of medium build, good-looking, with dark hair, a warm personality, and a strong handshake." Dugger himself described Scott as "A misunderstood soul searching for love. Her outward appearance is just a shell."[297] Dugger planned to make a film in Rome starring Scott, but he suddenly died on August 8, 1969. A handwritten codicil to his will leaving half his estate to his fiancée was contested by Dugger's sister, Sarah Dugger Schwartz.[298] The will was judged invalid in 1971.[299]


The 1960s saw Scott continuing to guest-star on television, including a notable 1960 episode of Adventures in Paradise, "The Amazon," opposite Gardner McKay. Scott played the titular character, derived from a boyfriend's dialog: "She is a sleek, well-groomed tigress, a man-eating shark—an Amazon! She chews men up and spits them out."[292] In Burke's Law "Who Killed Cable Roberts?" (1963), she camps it up as the ungrieving widow of a celebrity big game hunter.[293] But much of her private time was dedicated to classes at the University of Southern California.[294]

Lizabeth Scott in Burke's Law


Later years

Undaunted by Paramount's refusal to let her singing be heard, Scott signed a recording contract with Vik Records (a subsidiary of RCA Victor). Scott recorded her album with Henri René and his orchestra in Hollywood on October 28, 29 and 30, 1957. Simply titled Lizabeth, the 12 tracks are a mixture of torch songs and playful romantic ballads.[291] Finally on April 23, 1958, Scott made her public singing debut on CBS' The Big Record.[287]

Scott reemerged from retirement in Loving You (1957), Elvis Presley's second musical. During the shooting of Loving You, Scott was reported to have been infatuated with Presley. During a kissing scene, she playfully bit him on the cheek, leaving a red mark, which she called "just a little love nibble." The scene had to be reshot with the other side of his face to the camera.[289] But Scott's musical debut came to naught. Though Hal Wallis tried to get Scott's singing voice undubbed for the production, he was overruled by the studio heads, despite all of Scott's previous voice training. Production ran late January 1957–mid-March 1957.[290]

Erskine Johnson reported in January 1954 that Scott was being trained by Hollywood voice teacher Harriet Lee,[286] and later by Lillian Rosedale Goodman—the final result was that Scott "has a vocal range of two octaves, A below C to High C,"[287] making Scott a mezzo-soprano. In July 1956, Johnson reported that Scott was under the management of Earl Mills, who also managed the singing career of Dorothy Dandridge. Scott was planning to debut as a torch singer on the nightclub circuit.[288]


In the wake of the sensational 1957 trial, Scott was forgotten by the media.[279] Despite later claims that Scott's film career was ruined by the Confidential scandal,[280][281] by the time the September 1955 issue of Confidential appeared, her career was already dormant. Scott had begun her career at a time when many established actors were away at war, giving then unknowns like Scott a chance at stardom. When the older stars returned, many of the newer stars faded away.[282] In addition, the rise of television and the breakup of the studio system further curtailed film production. Film historians generally agree that Scott's career essentially peaked between 1947 and 1949.[283] By February 1953, her stage fright was such that she even hid from friends.[284] Scott did not renew her Paramount contract in February 1954, 18 months before "Lizabeth Scott in the Call Girls' Call Book" was published. Between the end of her contract and Rushmore's article, she had turned down numerous scripts, including a part in Wallis' The Rose Tattoo (1955).[285] But instead of reinventing herself as Bacall did, returning to Broadway, Scott chose another path.

According to Rushmore, Harrison told the attorneys, "I'd go out of business if I printed the kind of stuff you guys want."[277] Ronnie Quillan herself testified at the same trial that she had never verified the Scott story, thus not making the story "suit proof," but that Rushmore agreed to publish it anyway.[254] However, a mistrial was declared on October 1, 1957, when the jury could not agree on a verdict.[278]

The next spring, despite Giesler's reassurances to the press, the legal efforts against Confidential went nowhere. Since the magazine was domiciled in New York State, and Scott was a California resident who had initiated the suit in her own state, Los Angeles Supreme Court judge Leon T. David quashed Scott's suit on March 7, 1956, on the grounds that the magazine was not published in California. Despite this setback, Giesler said that he would refile in New York.[272] Lawsuits from other actors against the magazine were piling up. Meanwhile, Rushmore tried to get Harrison to publish a story about former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt having an alleged affair with her African-American chauffeur.[273] When Harrison refused, Rushmore quit and flew to Los Angeles to meet with Scott's attorney, Jerry Giesler. Rushmore offered to testify against Confidential in exchange for a job in Hollywood. Giesler rejected the offer. Then Rushmore became a witness for California Attorney General Edmund "Pat" Brown. Since New York refused to let Brown extradite Harrison to California, Brown instead put Hollywood Research and Harrison's niece on trial. On August 7, 1957, the trial of The People of the State of California v. Robert Harrison et al. began.[274][275] It eventually involved over 200 actors, most of whom fled California to avoid defense subpoenas. Rushmore, now the state's star witness, testified that the magazine knowingly published unverified allegations, despite its reputation for double-checking facts: "Some of the stories are true and some have nothing to back them up at all. Harrison many times overruled his libel attorneys and went ahead on something."[276]

In retaliation, Confidential published the Scott story in the next issue. Under the byline of "Matt Williams", it was titled "Lizabeth Scott in the Call Girls' Call Book".[262][271] In November 1955, at the age of 33, Scott again went to Britain to film The Weapon (1957).

1957 mistrial

Hollywood Research Inc. was the new intelligence-gathering front of Confidential. It was run by Marjorie Meade, Robert Harrison's 26-year-old niece and one of the most feared people in Hollywood since her arrival in January 1955.[268] Once a proposed story was assembled, usually either she or an agent visited the subject and presented a copy with a "buy-back" proposal.[269] But instead of paying the magazine not to publish the article, Scott sued. On July 25, 1955, two months before the issue's printed publication date, and while the Marlene Dietrich issue was still on the newsstands, Jerry Giesler, Scott's lawyer, initiated a $2.5 million libel suit.[270]

The Rushmore article further stated that Scott spent her off-work hours with "Hollywood's weird society of baritone babes" (a euphemism for lesbians). He also linked Scott's trip to Cannes to a Parisian woman named "Frede." "In one jaunt to Europe (Scott) headed straight for Paris and the left bank where she took up with Frede, the city's most notorious Lesbian queen and the operator of a night club devoted exclusively to entertaining deviates like herself."[262] Frédérique "Frédé" Baulé managed "Carroll's," an upper-class, cabaret-type nightclub[263] at 36 Rue de Ponthieu, Paris, France.[264] It featured mainstream entertainers of the day such as Eartha Kitt[265] and was devoted exclusively to entertaining café society.[266] One of the owners was Marlene Dietrich, who happened to be the subject of "The Untold Story of Marlene Dietrich" in the then current issue of Confidential.[267]

What Scott read was that a police raid occurred on a Hollywood Hills bungalow[255] at 8142 Laurel View Drive the previous autumn.[256] Two female adults, one male adult and a 17-year-old female were arrested on prostitution charges. The police found an address book with the names and telephone numbers of various people in the film industry, including two numbers allegedly belonging to Scott. "HO 2-0064" had a Hollywood prefix[257] and was the residential number of an elderly couple, Henry A. and Mamie R. Finke,[258] of 4465 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles,[259] while "BR 2-6111"[260] belonged to the 20th Century Fox switchboard at 10201 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles.[261] Scott did not work for 20th Century until 1956, when she took part in an episode of The 20th Century Fox Hour.

After being fired from the New York Journal-American in 1954,[248] Howard Rushmore became the chief editor[249] of a New York scandal magazine, Confidential. For Rushmore, it was a return to his days as film critic of the communist Daily Worker, but on the opposing side. He had been fired from the Worker in 1939 for giving an ambivalent review of Gone with the Wind (1939).[250][251] The firing made the front page of all the major New York City newspapers. Rushmore became a professional anti-communist. Among Rushmore's heroes was Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. Rushmore was briefly director of research for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations under McCarthy. In early 1955, several months after the Army–McCarthy hearings and the premiere of Silver Lode, Rushmore wrote an exposé on Lizabeth Scott, a second-generation Republican[20] and Catholic host of Family Theater. The publisher, Robert Harrison, was initially intrigued, but skeptical. To verify some aspects of the story, he hired an out-of-work actress, Veronica "Ronnie" Quillan,[252] to have luncheon with Scott, giving Quillan an opportunity to make a pass at Scott. Quillan was to be bugged with a wristwatch microphone supplied by the Hollywood Detective Agency, but the agency's owner, H. L. Von Wittenburg, backed out and the plan was never implemented.[253] Despite the lack of evidence, Confidential sent a copy of the story to Scott herself.[254]

Rushmore's story


During the Golden Age of Radio, Scott reprised her film roles in abridged radio versions. Typical were her appearances on Lux Radio Theatre: You Came Along with Van Johnson in the Robert Cummings role and I Walk Alone.[246] Scott was also a guest host/narrator on Family Theater.[247]


But others see Scott's acting in a different light.[166][240] With the revival of interest in film noir and its corresponding acting style, beginning in the 1980s, Scott's reputation has risen among critics and film historians.[241][242][243] In Movieland, his personal history of Hollywood, Jerome Charyn described this style as "dreamwalking":[244] "And then, among the Dolly Sisters and Errol Flynn, Bing Crosby and Dotty Lamour, the Brazilian Bombshell, Scheherazade, Ali Baba, and the elephant boy—all the fluff and exotic pastry that Hollywood could produce—appeared a very odd animal, the dreamwalker, like Turhan Bey, Sonny Tufts, Paul Henreid, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Lizabeth Scott, and Dana Andrews, whose face had a frozen quality and always looked half-asleep ... The dreamwalker seemed to mirror all our own fears. His (and her) numbness was the crazed underside of that cinematic energy in the wake of the (Second World) war."[245]

Scott's style of acting, characteristic of other film actors of the 1940s—a cool, naturalistic underplay derived from multiple sources[232]—was often depreciated by critics who preferred the more emphatic stage styles of the pre-film era or the later method styles. Typical of the '40s was Dick McCrone: "Miss Scott, who is an excellent clothes horse, rounds out the principals as Lancaster's moll. Otherwise, she's still the same frozen-face actress she was in Desert Fury and a couple of pictures before that."[233] Current film historians critical of Scott either repeat Bob Thomas' image of an ersatz Bacall,[234][235] Bosley Crowther in describing Scott's acting as wooden,[236][237] or a pastiche of actresses of the period, as did Pauline Kael.[238][239]

Though the public response to Scott was generally favorable during the Paramount years, the film critics were less so, repeatedly making unfavorable comparisons to Lauren Bacall and Tallulah Bankhead,[120][121][122] beginning with Bob Thomas' March 1945 comment about her screen test: "Her throaty voice may well make Lauren Bacall sound like a mezzo soprano."[92] When the most prominent critic of the era, Bosley Crowther of The New York Times, gave a bad review of You Came Along (1945),[229] Scott's film debut, she recalled, "Being very young and naïve at the time, I didn't know you weren't suppose to do such things, so I called him up and complained. I told him how hard everyone worked to make such a beautiful movie, and I couldn't understand how he could be so cruel. I must say he took it awfully well, and was very kind to me."[20] Nonetheless, in his review of I Walk Alone (1948), he stated, "As the torch singer ... Lizabeth Scott has no more personality than a model in the window of a department store."[230] He also wrote of "a frighteningly grotesque Lizabeth Scott, who is supposed to represent a cabaret singer" in Dark City (1950).[231]

Critical reception

In April 1954, Scott attended the Cannes Film Festival, where she posed wading barefoot in a fountain[224] and surf for photographers.[225] Though she left for London immediately after the festival,[226] her visit to France had unforeseen consequences. Later that month, it was announced that she would be the host of High Adventure (1957–1958), a travelogue television series for CBS, but she never appeared in it.[227] As Scott put it: "... out of the clear blue sky one morning, I woke and decided that I never wanted to make another film again. It was just a spark, I can't explain it."[228]

In Scott's most overtly politically-themed film, Silver Lode (1954), she returned to the Western noir of Desert Fury, only in a traditional 19th century setting. Scott is a would-be bride whose groom, Dan Ballard (John Payne), is the target of a lynch mob on their Fourth of July wedding day.[214] As the loyal fiancée, Scott is unwavering in facing volatile public opinion, fueled by the fear that Ballard is someone other than he appears.[215] The film repeats many of the themes found in previous Western noirs such as The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), as well as the then recent anti-blacklist Johnny Guitar that had premiered the previous month.[216] Dan Duryea was cast as a villain named Ned McCarty, ostensibly named after William Henry McCarty (alias Billy the Kid), but usually assumed by film historians to be an allusion to Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy.[217][218][219] Unlike previous Hollywood efforts against blacklisting, such as the Committee for the First Amendment, manned mostly by Democrats, Republicans dominated the Silver Lode production.[220] Though the screenwriter, Karen DeWolf, was a left-wing activist,[221] director Allan Dwan[222] and John Payne were Republicans, as were Scott and RKO's owner, Howard Hughes. Critical response to the film itself was muted,[223] as the film appeared immediately after the Army–McCarthy hearings and McCarthy's influence was already in decline.

In April 1953, the 30-year-old Scott made her last film as a Paramount contractee. In Bad for Each Other (1953), Scott played a decadent heiress, Helen Curtis, who tries to dominate a poor but idealistic physician, Colonel Tom Owen (Charlton Heston). The source material for the screenplay, Horace McCoy's novel Scalpel, was more nuanced than the linear morality play of Bad For Each Other.[209] This film was Hal Wallis' last attempt to pair Burt Lancaster and Scott. Patricia Neal was originally cast as Helen,[210] but when Scott replaced Neal, Lancaster had to be replaced by Heston.[211] Though Heston and Scott had previously worked together in Dark City, there was reported feuding between the two on the set.[212] The film was a box office failure. Eight months later in February 1954, Hal Wallis and Scott parted ways. Scott was now a freelancer.[213]

Scott's stage fright was worsening. During the October 19, 1952 live broadcast of NBC's Colgate Comedy Hour, Scott reportedly hid in her dressing room until the casting director, Howard Ross, taunted her to face the audience.[207] By the end of October 1952, of the original 48 big name actors under contract to Paramount in 1947, only four were left—Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, William Holden and Lizabeth Scott.[208]

[152] remains Scott's third favorite film.Scared Stiff Despite the negative experience and reviews, [205] Shooting took place late May–mid-July 1952. The film premiered the week of 28 May 1953 in Los Angeles.[206] Later that spring, Scott returned to her beginnings as a comedienne when she began work on her first comedy noir,

Scott returned to Britain in October 1951 to film Stolen Face (1952), a noir that presages Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) by several years.[203] It combined elements from medical science-fiction (repeated in the later work of the director, Terence Fisher, in his cycle of Hammer horror films). Paul Henreid is Dr. Philip Ritter, a London plastic surgeon, who upon losing the love of an American concert pianist, Alice Brent (Scott), recreates her face on a disfigured female criminal. Hal Wallis and Scott, by allowing Henreid to be the leading man, were among the first to break the Hollywood blacklist. As a former member of the Committee for the First Amendment, Henreid was forced to seek work in Europe. Scott later starred in an anti-McCarthy noir, raising the ire of a pro-McCarthy journalist, who linked Scott's future visit to Cannes, France with an alleged visit to a Parisian nightclub.[204]

[202] Scott played her fourth and last torch singer role in

In Two of a Kind (1951), Scott portrayed Brandy Kirby, a socialite who seduces a gambler, Michael "Lefty" Farrell (Edmond O'Brien), into joining a caper. Red Mountain (1952) is set in the 1860s, starring Scott as Chris, the only member of her family to survive the American Civil War. Red Mountain was the second of Scott's three Westerns, though the only traditional non-noir one. The leading man was Alan Ladd in a typical knight errant role—Brett Sherwood, a Confederate Army captain seeking to make a last stand against the Union. When the director, William Dieterle, became sick on the Gallup, New Mexico shooting location, Hal Wallis sent Scott's old adversary from You Came Along, John Farrow, to direct. Scott injured her knee during a stunt in which she jumped off a 12-foot ledge, on her fourth try. She had to be flown out from location.[200]

In a May interview, Scott said she was reading the entire oeuvre of Aldous Huxley.[192] In another interview, she admitted almost joining a "cult" endorsed by Huxley, but did not due to the vow of poverty required.[193] Huxley explored reincarnation and destiny, of which Scott also professed to during interviews.[152][194] During Scott's spiritual search, she eventually met the Dalai Lama at a private reception at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.[195] Yet, conversely, Scott was a friend and reader of Ayn Rand,[194] an Aristotelian atheist.[196] Later that year, Scott was cast to do the summer stock version of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke (1948).[197] Instead, she quit the production and audited two morning courses—philosophy and political science—for six weeks at the University of Southern California.[198][199]

Scott played her third torch singer role in Dark City (1950), a traditional film noir. Her boyfriend, Danny Haley—Charlton Heston in his film debut—is a bookie who is the apparent target of a vengeful brother of a dead man that Haley swindled. Originally Burt Lancaster was cast as the leading man, but he refused to work with Scott again.[191]

1950 saw Scott act in four films. In a continuing effort to escape her femme fatale typecasting, Scott played another self-sacrificing June Allyson-like character before reverting to her usual torch singer/socialite roles. In The Company She Keeps (1951), she played Joan Willburn, a probation officer who sacrifices her fiancé to a scheming convict, Diane Stuart (Jane Greer), who echoes Scott's Toni Marachek from Martha Ivers. While Greer's beauty[187] was toned down for the film, Scott's was not. As a result, critics were generally unconvinced that the leading man would choose the dowdy Diane over Joan. Most critics thought that Scott and Greer were miscast, and should have switched roles.[188][189] Columnist Erskine Johnson summed it thus: "Lizabeth Scott is on her second reach-for-the-handkerchief-Mabel picture for RKO." A box-office failure due to the then perceived miscasting and mix of noir and "weepie" genres, The Company She Keeps has risen in critical esteem with a more sophisticated audience in later years.[190]

Lizabeth Scott in Stolen Face


Finally, Scott decided to legalize her stage name. Having been known professionally as "Lizabeth Scott" for almost seven years, she legally changed her name from Emma Matzo on September 14, 1949.[185][186]

By June 22, 1949, Scott was reportedly recovered from her January episode and was to be loaned out by Hal Wallis to the Princeton Drama Festival.[182] In July 1949, Scott returned to the stage in the title role of Philip Yordan's play Anna Lucasta at the McCarter Theatre, on the campus of Princeton University, New Jersey.[183] The press reported: "Folks who expected fireworks when Liz Scott and Tallulah Bankhead crossed paths at the Princeton Drama Festival were vastly disappointed. It was all sweetness and light."[184]

During Scott's recovery period, Walter Winchell, in his "On Broadway" column for June 9, 1949, repeated a rumor of Scott's impending marriage to Mortimer Hall,[179] CEO and president of radio station KLAC.[180] Scott and Hall later broke up. (Hall eventually married actress Ruth Roman, pursued Rosemarie Bowe,[181] who looked similar to Scott, divorced Roman, and then married Diana Lynn, Scott's co-star in Paid in Full.)

On Tuesday, January 25, 1949, Scott collapsed and went into hysterics on the RKO set of The Big Steal (1949).[171] She immediately quit after three days of production.[172] According to Scott's replacement, Jane Greer, Scott quit because she was concerned about being associated with the leading man, Robert Mitchum, who at the time was jailed at the local honor farm for a marijuana conviction[173]—Mitchum was convicted January 10, 1949.[174] It was also later alleged that Hal Wallis was supposedly responsible for Scott's bowing out.[175] Yet, Scott starred with Mitchum in a RKO film two years later. During this same period, the press reported rumors of Scott's stage fright, an ailment common to actors.[176] Scott herself has admitted to stage fright, explaining her absence during premieres of her films.[177] Scott's stage fright may have been associated with some psychosomatic illness.[178]

At the end of 1948, Scott shifted dramatic gears in Paid in Full (1950). Mousy Jane Langley (Scott), a department store illustrator, allows younger sister Nancy (Diana Lynn), a beautiful store model, to marry Bill Prentice (Robert Cummings), despite Jane's love for him. A few years later, Jane accidentally kills her young niece, eventually marries Bill herself, gets pregnant, and dies after giving birth.[167] In a film reminiscent of Stella Dallas (1937) and Mildred Pierce (1945), both Cummings and the original screenwriter, Robert Rossen, were out of their depth, according to one review[168]—but the final film succeeded surprisingly well.[169] There was reportedly a "scene stealing" competition between Scott and Lynn on the set.[170]

Lizabeth Scott in Paid in Full

In September 1948, Scott played the ultimate femme fatale in Too Late for Tears, with Don DeFore, Dan Duryea, Arthur Kennedy and Kristine Miller. The story again takes place in post-war Los Angeles, where the facade of a typical married couple is shattered when someone by mistake throws $60,000 into their car. In an effort to keep the money, the wife, Jane Palmer (Scott), leaves a trail of bodies to the very end.[163] During the shooting of a scene where Scott screamed at Duryea, she accidentally broke a blood vessel in her throat.[164] This Hitchcock-like, black-and-white noir is widely considered Scott's best film and performance, eliciting praise even from the normally hostile New York Times.[165] But the film was a box-office failure when it was released and the producer, Hunt Stromberg, was forced into bankruptcy. Decades later, one film historian noted the film's staying power: "Too Late for Tears is a relatively 'unknown and unseen' noir and deserves this recognition, especially for its storyline, acting and the incredible performance of Lizabeth Scott in the femme fatale role."[166]

On March 2, 1944, when Seven Days' Leave In May 1948, it was announced that

In January 1948, the 26-year-old Scott played her third and last ingénue in the second favorite among her own films[152]Pitfall (1948) with Dick Powell and Jane Wyatt as a middle-aged couple growing apart. Director André de Toth explained his reasons for casting Mona: "I wanted Lizabeth Scott. I didn't want some blonde with big tits. You had to believe that this girl was real. Even if I took one of these over-sexed types who could not act, it would change how the Powell character is drawn into the affair. Remember the point of the script was that he's just a middle-level insurance investigator. He's tired of his job, spending time in his little office with a drab secretary. So I could have made a different picture, with a prettier girl than Lizabeth Scott, and told the story of that girl, her problems; but that wasn't this movie. That would make it phony, if you cast it with Marilyn Monroe, a type like that. I needed somebody real."[153] In post-war Los Angeles, Powell's character, John Forbes, is investigating Mona Stevens (Scott), a department store model whose jailed boyfriend had embezzled funds. Bored with his wife, John starts an affair with Mona, but is soon competing for her with a voyeuristic detective, played by a then unknown Canadian actor, Raymond Burr.

But there was more drama behind the scenes of the film, originally titled Deadlock. The Kay Lawrence role was originally intended to be Kristine Miller's breakout role.[146] But Scott, ever competitive with all other actresses,[35] grabbed the role for herself. Miller later recalled, "(Wallis) planned to star me in 'I Walk Alone.' He tested me with Burt; it was a wonderful test. But then Lizabeth Scott decided she wanted the role, and Lizabeth got whatever she wanted—from Hal Wallis! (Laughs) So, I got the second part instead."[147] Douglas, while working with Lancaster on the film, noted: "Lizabeth Scott played the girl we were involved with in the movie. In real life she was involved with Hal Wallis. This was a problem. Very often, she'd be in his office for a long time, emerge teary-eyed, and be difficult to work with for the rest of the day."[148] Though relations between Lancaster and Scott had previously been romantic, there had been a falling out. Lancaster's behavior toward Scott was chilly, especially during one kissing scene, leaving Scott looking exasperated.[149] By April 9, 1947, Lancaster tried to break his seven-year contract with Paramount. He claimed it violated a previous freelance deal—but added that he did not want to work with Scott anymore.[150] Despite all the issues among the cast and past critics, I Walk Alone is usually now judged to be a film noir classic.[151]

In December 1946, Scott again starred with Lancaster, Corey and Douglas, in Wallis's I Walk Alone (1948), a noirish story of betrayal and vengeance. In her second torch singer role, Scott is Kay Lawrence, who befriends a convict, Frankie Madison (Lancaster), who returns to New York after 14 years in prison, seeking his share of criminal proceeds from his partner Noll "Dink" Turner (Douglas), who is also Kay's boyfriend. The film was a dramatic hit with the audience.[145]

With the coming of World War II, a new type of Hollywood actress appeared on the big screen. California historian Kevin Starr described it thus: "The stars emerging in 1940, by contrast—Rita Hayworth, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Lupe Vélez, Marie Windsor, Lana Turner, Lizabeth Scott—each possessed a certain hardness, an invisible shield of attitude and defense, that suggested that times were getting serious and that comedy would not be able to handle all the issues... Just a few years earlier Hollywood had been presenting the wisecracking platinum blonde, frank, sexy, self-actualizing. Now with the war, that insouciance had become hard-boiled."[132] This "hard-boiled" quality appeared in Scott's two previous films and was repeated in Desert Fury (1947), the second noir filmed in color and a Western as well.[133] It starred John Hodiak, Burt Lancaster, Wendell Corey and Mary Astor. Astor played Fritzi Haller,[134] a casino and bordello owner, who runs the desert town of Chuckawalla. Scott played Fritzi's 19-year-old daughter, Paula, who, on her expulsion from "her fifth finishing school,"[135] returns home. She falls for gangster Eddie Bendix (Hodiak), and faces a great deal of opposition from everyone else. Generally panned by critics when it first appeared,[136][137] it has been gaining critical praise in the passing years. Even the once ridiculed, high-fashion clothes of Scott's character[138]—by Edith Head, with the colors of the Southwest in mind[139]—play a role in the continued fascination with the film.[140] Robert Rossen's screenplay repeated the matriarch-run-town trope of The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. Originally, Hal Wallis had hired Ramona Stewart, a 23-year-old graduate from the University of Southern California, to write the screenplay, which was based on her then unpublished novel Desert Town (1947).[141] Another 23-year-old, Betsy Drake, was originally cast as Paula,[142] but failed the screen test[143] and was replaced by Scott (who was 24 at the time). During the shooting of Desert Fury scenes that took place in Los Angeles, Scott briefly reappeared with Burt Lancaster in a spoof William Tell sketch in Variety Girl (1947).[144]

Arthur Kennedy with Lizabeth Scott in Too Late for Tears


Other films

At the age of 24, Scott's billing and portrait were equal to Bogart's on the film's lobby posters and in advertisements. Most often portrayed in publicity stills was the Jean Louis gown-and-glove outfit worn in the nightclub scene, the most iconic gown Scott wore in her entire film career (see infobox).[129] In September 1946, a Motion Picture Herald poll of exhibitors voted her the seventh-most promising "star of tomorrow."[130] Production ran 10 June–4 September 1946. It premiered in New York the week of 23 January 1947.[119] Despite the initial positive publicity, the long-term effect of Dead Reckoning was to typecast the former comedienne for her entire career. The following year, contrary to general expectations, Bacall herself approved of the casting of Scott in Dead Reckoning.[131]

When the film was finally released and the reviews came in, they revealed that most critics never caught the differences in accent, diction and timbre between Scott and Bacall.[120][121][122] Bacall's accent is pre-World War II, upper-middle-class New York metropolitan, often mistaken for Mid-Atlantic due to the broad "A" and non-rhotic pronunciation of words containing "R."[123] Unlike Scott's inherited low tone, Bacall originally had a naturally high tone with a nasal timbre and fast tempo, but had trained herself to pitch her voice lower and slow down her delivery.[123] Despite Bacall's "mannered toughness" and Scott's "breathy theatricality,"[21] when Bacall did the voice-over for a 1990s cat-food commercial,[124] some people thought it was Scott.[125][126] But more notable than any actual similarity between Bacall and Scott are the people, institutions and events they had in common: the Walter Thornton Agency, Harper's Bazaar, Irving Hoffman, Charles Feldman and the Famous Talent Corporation, Humphrey Bogart, and the "Second Red Scare" (1947–1954).[127] Also, both actresses made Bogart's personal list of the nine "most potent" kissers "in movie love scenes" in which he participated.[128]

Columbia originally intended Rita Hayworth for the role,[115] who was busy with The Lady from Shanghai (1947). Then attention turned to Bacall, who also refused.[116][117] As a result, Scott was borrowed from Hal Wallis.[118] Scott played Coral "Dusty" Chandler, a woman that US Army Captain Murdock (portrayed by Humphrey Bogart) is attracted to during his search for the murderer of his AWOL friend. She may not be the innocent bystander that she seems.[119]

Scott in 1947

Dead Reckoning

In June 1946,[109] Scott gained the distinction of being the first Hollywood star to visit Britain since the end of World War II.[110] She was there to attend the London premiere of Martha Ivers[111] and do a promotional tour through the country. In Liverpool and Manchester, she was met by massive crowds. Her appeal was now truly international.[112] During her stay in Britain, Scott was interviewed by Picture Page, a news magazine program, at the BBC's Alexandra Palace studios.[113] While Scott was still in Britain, shooting began on a new noir that Scott joined after she returned: Dead Reckoning.[114]

Later in 1946, Scott's moniker proved prophetic, when a 37-year-old Barbara Stanwyck, in a letter, objected to Scott's top billing in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946): "I will not be co-starred with any other person other than a recognized male or female star." Lawyers for Wallis and Stanwyck got to work, and eventually, the final billing ran Stanwyck, Van Heflin and Scott at the top, with newcomer Kirk Douglas in second place.[106] But Wallis' interest in promoting Scott was obsessive. The AFI page on Martha Ivers notes: "Director Lewis Milestone is quoted in an article in the Los Angeles Sun Mirror on 8 December 1946 as having said that he would never make another picture with producer Hal Wallis because Wallis wanted to reshoot scenes in this film for more close-ups of Lizabeth Scott; Milestone reportedly told Wallis to shoot them himself—which he did."[107] Wallis ended up adding extra footage of Scott at the expense of Stanwyck's screen time, which later led to a contretemps between Stanwyck and Wallis.[108] Concerning her first film noir, Scott recalled how strange it was to be in a film with Stanwyck and only have one brief scene together.[35] The screenplay by Robert Rossen depicts two separate story lines running in parallel—one dominated by Martha Ivers (Stanwyck) and the other by Antonia "Toni" Marachek (Scott). The Heflin character, Sam, is the connection between the story lines, which only overlap in the one scene where femme fatale Martha and Toni meet.

In September 1945, Paramount public relations dubbed Scott "The Threat," which derived from a critic's description of Scott: "She's the Threat, to the Body, the Voice and the Look."[97] "The Body" (Marie McDonald),[98] "The Voice" (Frank Sinatra)[99] and "The Look" (Lauren Bacall)[100] were supposed to be threatened by Scott's arrival on the Hollywood scene. Though they were the same height (5'6" or 1.68 metres), McDonald's measurements were 36½-22½-35, to Scott's 34-24-34.[27][78] Nor was Scott permitted to sing after her first film,[101] invariably being dubbed by Trudy Stevens.[102] Scott herself never cared for the moniker, though she found "meanie" roles easier to play.[103] Early in February 1946, Scott was dating a then unknown actor named Burt Lancaster, with whom she did a screen test.[104] Lancaster's first marriage was in trouble and despite rumors of marriage between him and Scott,[105] the two broke up the following year.

Lizabeth Scott in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

Martha Ivers

The Threat

Paramount years

Despite Scott's initial difficulties with Cummings, she soon gained his respect with her performance and force of personality. Scott never made any headway with the director, John Farrow, however. Farrow had lobbied for Teresa Wright and when he did not get her, he made his displeasure known to Scott throughout the shoot.[84] You Came Along remained Scott's favorite of all the films she made.[95] In October 1945, Tallulah Bankhead denied Paramount publicity stating that Scott was her understudy on Broadway. "'Nobody ever understudies me,' baritones the Alabam' belle. 'When I don't go on, the play doesn't go on!'"[96]

At the age of 22, Scott's film debut was the comedy-drama You Came Along (1945), opposite Robert Cummings. Originally conceived as a Barbara Stanwyck vehicle,[59] Ayn Rand's script concerns an Army Air Force officer, Bob Collins, who tries to hide his terminal leukemia from his handler, Ivy Hotchkiss (Scott), a US Treasury public relations agent, whom Bob meets during a war bond drive. During the shooting of You Came Along, Hal Wallis showed Scott's screen test to Hollywood columnist Bob Thomas. Wallis told Thomas: "Notice how her eyes are alive and sparkling ... Once in a while she reads a line too fast, but direction will cure that. That voice makes her intriguing." Almost four months before the release of Scott's first film, Thomas's March 16, 1945 column was the first to make an unfavorable comparison between Lauren Bacall and Scott, thus beginning a critical trend of marginalizing Scott in favor of Bacall.[92][93][94]

To Have and Have Not (1944), Bacall's first film, made its New York premiere October 11, 1944.[88] This film became the basis for claims that Scott was a "Bacall manquée" for the rest of her career.[89] Scott moved to Los Angeles in November 1944.[87] Later that winter, Scott tested for Love Letters (1945)[90] and for the role of Susan in The Affairs of Susan (1945),[91] but was cast in neither.

Hal Wallis also saw the American Scott's test and recognized her potential.[83] In a meeting, Wallis told Scott, "If I could, I would put you under contract." But she did not believe him. She thought he was powerful as Warner and was "prevaricating."[5][84] Unknown to Scott, years of infighting between Jack Warner and Wallis were about to climax. Under acrimonious circumstances, Wallis left Warner Bros. for Paramount Pictures.[85] On the day that Scott was scheduled to leave for New York, she read about it in Variety. But she spent several months in New York[5][86] before Feldman telegraphed her in August 1944—Wallis wanted to sign her to a contract.[87]

After reaching Feldman on the telephone, Scott was given a test script. Being a stage actress, Scott knew nothing about screen acting. Her first screen test was at Universal, then at William Goetz's International Pictures. She was rejected by both studios.[77] Then she tested at Warner Brothers. But this time around, Wallis' sister, Minna Wallis, arranged for film director Fritz Lang to coach Scott. He taught Scott not to stop after flubbing a line while the camera was rolling, as the bad footage could be cut.[5] She read a scene from The Male Animal (1942).[33] When Jack Warner saw the screen test, he also rejected Scott. The reason for Warner's rejection varies among film historians, ranging from Warner telling Charles Feldman: "She'll never be a star, only a second leading lady"[78] to derailing a potential rival to Bacall, who was signed to Warner Bros.[79] In addition to Bacall, at the Warner Teddington Studios in London, there was already a blonde actress named Elizabeth Scott,[80] who looked similar to the American. This Scott was the second leading lady in the Warner noir Fingers (1941).[81] A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Scott had a contract with Warner Bros. in Hollywood, but did not come to California due to the war.[82]

[5] (1942).[156] But the 37-year-old Ball was in career slump at the time and had to take the secondary role meant for Scott. Mature played football star Pete Wilson, who has a heart problem. Scott played Pete's wife, Liza "Lize" Wilson, a greedy, social climbing interior decorator.[157] The original ending has Pete leaving Lize for the nobler secretary. But to the bewilderment of critics, it was changed to an ambiguous ending where Pete stays with Lize.[158][159] The final film, titled Easy Living (1949), received a generally negative response when it was released. The New York Times review was uncommonly positive, though typically dismissive of Scott's performance.[160] But current critiques tend to see Scott as an underrated dramatic actress in her Lize role.[161][162]

Hopkins recovered in two weeks, and Scott was back in New York.[72] Scott returned to modeling for the Walter Thornton Agency,[73] which Lauren Bacall also worked for.[74] Bacall was currently a cover girl for Harper's Bazaar. Later that year, Scott herself appeared in a Harper's photographic spread, which was allegedly admired by film agent Charles Feldman of Famous Artists Corporation (now ICM Partners). In a telegram to Scott, he asked her to take a screen test. He invited her to come to Los Angeles and stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel, all expenses paid.[5] Coincidentally or not, he had just signed Bacall, who soon made her first film.[75]

Lizabeth Scott in You Came Along


Scott returned to her drama studies and some fashion modeling. Meanwhile, an associate[65][66] of Joe Russell's, Irving Hoffman,[67] a New York press agent and columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, had befriended Scott and tried to introduce her to people who could help her. Hoffman earlier had done the same for a 19-year-old model who was then being approached by several Hollywood studios[68]Lauren Bacall.[69] On September 29, 1943, Hoffman held a birthday party at the Stork Club—Scott had turned 21. By happenstance or design, Wallis was also at the club that night.[70] Hoffman introduced Scott to Wallis, who arranged for an interview the following day. When Scott returned home, she found a telegram offering her the lead for the Boston run of The Skin of Our Teeth. Miriam Hopkins was ill. Scott sent Wallis her apologies, canceling the interview.[71] Scott recalled "On the train up to Boston, to replace Miss Hopkins, I decided I needed to make the name more of an attention-grabber. And that's when I decided to drop the 'E' from Elizabeth."[34]

[64].Hal Wallis, Warner Brothers for film producer Joe Russell was in the Plymouth Theatre audience that night. Afterward, when a Californian friend came to New York on one of his biannual visits to Broadway, Russell told him about Scott's performance. Russell's friend was an up-and-coming [63]

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