Saturday, February 20, 2010

RIP Mary Scott

Mary Scott died on April 22, 2009 in Riverside County, Los Angeles, under the name Mary Lydia Heller.

Scott accrued a number of film and television credits from the early forties through the early sixties, but she will probably be remembered as (1) the wife of British character actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke, in one of Hollywood’s more unlikely May-December romances; and (2) the star of “Mr. Blanchard’s Secret,” one of the seventeen episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents directed by the Master of Suspense himself.

Born in Los Angeles on December 9, 1921, Scott began her movie career at Twentieth Century-Fox in 1940. She was still underage when the head of that studio, Darryl Zanuck, spotted her working in the coat-check room at Ciro’s. Zanuck admired her legs and directed an underling to sign Scott to a player contract. She made her film debut in an early scene in Kings Row, as one of the Ross sisters. (The other sister was Julie Warren, who gave up her acting career to marry John Forsythe.)

Hardwicke, an esteemed character actor of the English stage with a famously plummy voice, was under contract to Fox at the same time. Their romance began on a double date in Beverly Hills, and Scott followed the married Hardwicke back to Broadway (where he contrived to have her replace Lilli Palmer, his co-star in Caesar and Cleopatra, when Palmer took ill) and then on to London. Only when she became pregnant with a son, Michael, did Hardwicke divorce his first wife and marry Scott, who was twenty-eight years his junior.

More socialite than serious actress, Scott played small roles in a number of films and TV segments during the fifties. She supported Grace Kelly and Richard Greene (TV’s Robin Hood) in a live production of “Berkeley Square” for the Prudential Family Playhouse, and turned up on M Squad, Hazel, and The Patty Duke Show. “Mr. Blanchard’s Secret,” a semi-parody of Rear Window, had Scott as distaff version of James Stewart’s character, a mystery writer who thinks her neighbor may have committed a murder.

“Mr. Blanchard’s Secret” was a major showcase for Scott, and much like “Into Thin Air,” an earlier Hitchcock episode built around Hitch’s daughter Pat, it feels as if someone had carried out an act of star-building – albeit perhaps more as a favor than out of true conviction in the prospective star’s talent. Mary Scott appeared in seven more segments of Alfred Hitchcock Presents or The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and, like Pat Hitchcock’s roles on that series, Scott’s parts gradually diminished in size until, in 1965’s “The Trap,” she was just an extra in a crowd scene.


SCOTT, Mary (Mary Lydia Heller)
Born: 12/9/1921, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Died: 4/22/2009, Riverside, California, U.S.A.

Mary Scott's westerns - actress:
Law of the Lash - 1947 (Jane Hilton)
Apache Country - 1952 (Laura Rayburn)

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