Oral History: George C. Scott and the "Disease of Acting"

by Jack Tewksbury June 27, 2019
Actor George C. Scott, Golden Globe winner

aaron rapoport/corbis/getty images

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actresses, actors and filmmakers. The world's largest collection of its kind - over 10,000  items - is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.

In this excerpt from our archives from the 1970s, multi-nominee and future Golden Globe winner George C. Scott lashes his fury at what he perceives as the bitterness of the acting life (two of Scott's children became actors - Devon Scott and Campbell Scott).

“I’m sorry to say that my daughter (Devon Scott) wants to be an actress. I have six children and she is the youngest. She’s 15 and has completed a television series, at my great disapproval and I did everything that was humanly possible, short of breaking her legs to keep her from doing it. I wouldn’t wish diphtheria on my children. I don’t see why I should wish the disease of acting upon them. I think it’s a dreadfully difficult life. If one achieves success in it, your problems begin. If one does not achieve success in it, one’ life is a failure. There’s almost no way you can win. And I certainly don’t look forward to any of my children pursuing a career in this.

Beats the hell out of me how I got into acting. I had come out of the Marine Corps and I went to college where I studied journalism. I wasn’t adequate at it and I looked around for something else to do and I started acting.

I spent a long time relaxing in barrooms you know, for years. Then that got too hazardous so I decided to take up other things. So I play a lot of bridge. I play a great deal of golf which I enjoy enormously. And I try to stay around home as much as possible. My wife and I bought a house in Greenwich, Connecticut 20  months ago and we’ve spent four months in it. I’d like to get back.