Grounded Star

Actor was among Hollywood's best, but remained down to earth

 

One of Hollywood's top box-office attractions for more than three decades was handsome, six-foot-two Randolph Scott. The Charlotte actor ranked alongside such notable stars as Gary Cooper and John Wayne, appearing in more than a hundred films from 1929 to 1962.

Scott was the son of well-known local accountant George Scott, scion of an aristocratic Virginia family, and Lucy Crane, daughter of an old-guard Charlotte family. He grew up in a two-story Victorian home in Fourth Ward, since demolished, then lived briefly in a still existing brick home his father built on Dilworth Road.

Scott played football at Georgia Tech and was considered a legitimate contender for All-American before an injury in his junior year cut short his career. He then transferred to Chapel Hill and graduated from the University of North Carolina. After working briefly in his father's accounting firm, Scott left for Hollywood in 1928, hoping to find fame in the glamorous new field of motion pictures.

With his college-boy good looks and amiable Southern charm, he found quick success. He played in comedies, war movies, even musicals, but became best known for his many Westerns, such as The Spoilers and Go West, Young Man. Unlike many Hollywood stars, Scott was modest and never self-promoting. "It never really struck him he was a star," comments his son Christopher. "I don't think he really acted. He basically played himself—the consummate gentleman."

A shrewd businessman, Scott became one of the wealthiest movie stars. He had real estate holdings in San Francisco and Palm Springs worth hundreds of millions. He retired from movies in 1962 and spent his later years playing golf with such friends as presidents Eisenhower and Nixon.

Randolph Scott died in 1987 at age eighty-nine and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in uptown Charlotte. He had insisted on a private funeral with only a few family members and old friends. His friend Billy Graham conducted the graveside service.