Thursday, March 4, 2021

Fond Farewell: Great Scott!

In the 1980s, a rush of handsome actors with thick, dark wavy hair and big, brawny mustaches began to flood TV's airwaves. Tom Selleck was far and away the most popular on Magnum, P.I., but hunky Lee Horsley gave him a run for his money on Matt Houston. Another, who made a brief splash as opportunistic tennis pro Mark Jennings on Dynasty, was Geoffrey Scott. Scott passed away one day after his 79th birthday on February 23rd. We take a moment now to glance at his career and hirsute physique.

Born in Hollywood, California on February 22nd, 1942, Scott would actually make his mark in New York City (and a rather late one at that.) Having toiled in a wide array of commercials and theatre productions, he caught a break in 1970 when he was cast in the unusual daytime soap opera Dark Shadows.

The handsome 28 year-old was lover interest to one of the show's chief female performers, Lara Parker. A neophyte actor more obsessed with his lines than with things like subtext and intent, he didn't wind up making a profound impression and was ultimately let go. He landed on another soap Where the Heart Is and proceeded to a variety of prime time TV appearances, often in roles that merely called for a handsome, all-purpose presence.

He continued to toil as a guest on shows such as Kojak, Harry O and Barnaby Jones until catching another break. This time, he was part of a new concept in prime time programming. The NBC series Cliffhangers was an hour-long broadcast that featured three completely separate stories playing out in serial-like installments. Each week ended with, you guessed it, a cliffhanger.

Scott's portion of the show concerned a western cowboy who is tossed into a subterranean world of futuristic aliens and beastly monsters. (This certainly predated the later Cowboys & Aliens, 2011, with Daniel Craig.) Michael Nouri and Miss Susan Anton figured into the other tales to be presented each week.

This rather nondescript photo was given heavy rotation in print, but revealed little other than the fact that he was playing a marshal... Cliffhangers was clobbered by Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley in the ratings and fell off the radar after 10 episodes.

Singer-actor Jerry Reed's role in Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and its sequel had garnered him enough attention that he was given a shot at his own TV series. A pilot telefilm called The Concrete Cowboys had him opposite Tom Selleck. But by the time the series was picked up in 1981 (following a writer's strike), Selleck was out and Scott was in. (Selleck had to reason to worry. He'd landed his role on Magnum, P.I. in 1980!)

The series, sometimes called Ramblin' Man, wound up doing even worse than Cliffhangers did, and was kaput after 7 episodes. All was not lost though...

The actor, now pushing 40 and facing either career inertia or decline, soon found himself in the most high profile part he would ever know.

Dynasty, a prime time soap in its third season and now picking up serious steam in the ratings, was on the hunt for a charismatic scoundrel to portray the ne'er do well ex-husband of its leading heroine Krystle, played by Linda Evans. With a newly-grown "porn stache" in place, he won the role.

Any new addition to Dynasty at this juncture was greeted with enormous press and publicity. He took his place among the series' stars Evans, John Forsythe and Joan Collins and prepared to ride the wave. As Jennings, he also got the chance to take Collins for a spin as she connived to mess up her enemy Evans' life!

He also, in a notorious series of events, wound up bedding Collins' daughter on the show Pamela Sue Martin, all the while still carrying an unrequited torch for Evans!

Everything about Dynasty was focused on the visual (along with some verbal fireworks.) Scott was presented shirtless on as many occasions as possible. Good Lord... this shot may even make me a fan of V-neck T-shirts!

By now a far more seasoned, comfortable actor than he'd been in his early days, Scott's innate charm came across, making the potentially unlikable character rather charming in his own way. And he wasn't hard on the eyes, either.

Unfortunately, as happened to many an actor and actress signed to the series, once his chief story line had wound up, the writers had little idea what to do with him. He emerged as a sort of belittled Man Friday/bodyguard for Collins and his importance diminished until he was eliminated in 1984.

During Scott's two seasons on Dynasty, he was called upon to participate in a couple of editions of Battle of the Network Stars, in which television's top names were coerced into competing with one another, often in tiny li'l Speedo swimsuits! By his second turn at the event, the mustache was gone as he had moved on to a new project. (The female with him was his then-girlfriend, a Danish fashion designer.)

Scott was hired by HBO to costar in its new football comedy show, the boob-obsessed (in more ways than one!) 1st & Ten. He played the veteran quarterback of a team recently acquired by divorcee Delta Burke. In 1984, Scott's legs were crushed when he was standing with his bike in a parking lot and one car pressed him into another one and plowed him forward for 12 feet! Despite horrible injury, he made a full recovery.

Fortunately, this role required no walking. Apart from some clips on a TV screen, he wasn't required to do anything but lie very still.

You see, in The Morning After (1986), Jane Fonda (and her hair) wakes up to find a corpse in bed next to her! And Scott played that part.

Later, Fonda (who was Oscar-nominated for this) comes back to clean up the mess and Scott is seen in some leopard-print bikini briefs.

Scott had been appearing as a guest star on such Aaron Spelling productions as Hotel, The Love Boat and even Matt Houston. In 1987, he popped up on the first season of Married... with Children as the playboy owner of a shoe store in which Ed O'Neill works.

Scott returned to daytime TV with roles on General Hospital and Guiding Light. In time, he'd be fondly remembered for his work on Dark Shadows, for which he filmed the candid interview depicted above. He also worked on Murder, She Wrote, Murphy Brown and Baywatch among others. But eventually the married father of two moved to Colorado and slowed down his work on screen.

He filmed his final role in 2003, and it's doubtful that very many people even realized who it was they were seeing. He played the President in Eric Bana's rendition of Hulk.

That was the last time most of us ever saw Geoffrey Scott as he retired to a quiet, rustic life in Colorado (where Dynasty happened to be set, but was never filmed.) It wasn't just retirement for Scott, however. In time, he became plagued with Parkinson's disease and that is ultimately what claimed him on February 23rd of 2021.

We salute the hunk who set hearts aflutter in the early-1980s. This was not when Dynasty's ratings were at their very highest, but it was when the show's overall quality was at its peak. Though he only had that mustache for a small portion of his long career, it made quite an impact at the time. And his charming personality made an impact long beyond that.


joel65913 said...

I missed the news of his passing, there have been so many already this year. Sad, especially so since he fell prey to a debilitating disease but he was quite a looker in his day. I'm not a fan of those crazy duster/porn moustaches that swept the country in the 70's and 80's but they sure did take hold for a long time.

It was interesting to see his progression from beginning to close. Very representative of so many journeyman actors. I wouldn't say that it's the same for actresses since there later lot, especially for those who never garner real acclaim, is to be relegated to mothers, aunts and noisy neighbors where as men if they age well can at least hope for a silver fox phase.

Dean W. said...

Thanks for the wonderful bio of Mr. Scott. Also, as a long-time reader, I find that your writing captures the essence of the lives of your subjects, and is always a pleasure to read!

Gingerguy said...

I got an alert on this from FB this week, lol. It's amazing what a change a moustache can make, I watched every episode of Dark Shadows and even remember him, but never connected him with the hot tennis guy on Dynasty. What a honey! those kind of looks got my heart aflutter and his was a popular type on the cover of International Male or other mags that you had to buy in, ahem, bookstores. I even remember the scene in The Morning After. This was a great and of course thorough tribute. I loved all those shows, and think he was even hotter than Dex Dexter. He brought a lot of viewing pleasure over the years. Rest In Peace Geoffrey

F. Nomen said...

Cliffhangers! was such a cool, weird concept for a show, about 20 years ahead of its time. Scott’s story was a take on an old Gene Autry serial. I watched the first episode on YT a month or so ago. Sadly his segment was the weakest of the three. A lot of running around nondescript hallways and the like.

Shawny said...

I just saw The Morning After a few weeks ago. It is included in the Criterion app’s Jane Fonda collection. While the film is soso, the best part about it Jane’s hair and clothing. Her hunter green pant suit outfit was a stunner. But Scott was very very memorable as the hot dead stud in the opening. If there were awards for most memorable corpse, he would be a sure second to Weekend at Bernie’s.

Dan said...

He seems to have been “lost in the sauce” of all those dark, curly headed, mustachioed hunks so prevalent in the 70’s and early 80’s. The only one who really lasted was Tom Selleck. I wonder if Selleck did indeed have something a bit extra, or was it his luck in doing “Magnum”? Discuss.
The pic that does it for me is that next to last one at the beach. He just looks so darn healthy and happy, and I much prefer him sans mustache.
Thanks for another well written and respectful bio of a lesser known actor.

Shawny said...

Burt Reynolds was also big.

Dan said...

Argh! How could I have forgotten Burt! Must have been a one cup of coffee morning.

Poseidon3 said...

Joel, mustaches can be kind of icky sometimes (they don't call them "flavor savers" for nothing!) Not everyone can pull on off, either, and a lot of gents tried it during that trend you speak of. It's interesting to look at those trends. When I was a teen, it was all about feathered hair and what some people called a "butt crack" sort of part in the middle. The the bi-levels came in, with some guys growing out the back and perming that!! Now it's like a clone world of bald guys with goatees. Who knows what's next... At the gym, with all the masks on, I sometimes look around and it seems like the movie THX-1138!!! LOL Can't tell people apart!

Dean W, I so much appreciate your compliment! I do try... sometimes my snarkiness slithers in. Ha ha! I'm glad you enjoyed this, and other posts. Thanks!

Gingerguy, I used to love International Male "catalog!" Maybe bought two things over the course of about 5 years.... Ha ha ha!! Then again, I didn't have the target physique for their items. And a female coworker of mine and I used to almost rupture ourselves laughing at some of their more formal wear looks. Wild...!

D. Nomen, I believe it. It's a shame they didn't get a little more creative and adventuresome, even if it had to be on a budget. So many of those sorts of '70s sci-fi shows involve endless hallways!! That was basically the standard, though, until the movie "Alien!" Thanks!!

Ha ha, Shawny!! He did make a great corpse, but I have to still hand it to one Bill Cable as the dead guy in "Basic Instinct." He had no need for leopard print undies...!! What a hunk he was. Another (previously) mustached stud who ought to have been in more movies & shows based on that face of his. Of course, there's that messy scenario with Christian Brando and him which does tarnish his reputation a bit.

Dan, remember when Tom Selleck - without mustache - played Jaclyn Smith's boyfriend on an early "Charlie's Angels" ep?? He was very handsome, but he just didn't fully click until he got that look down pat. He kicked around for quite a time before that. I'm glad you liked this. Thanks!

Shawny and Dan, yes, Burt was the undisputed king of mustached leading men, but he was a movie star in the '70s & '80s and I was talking solely about TV! But then he came back to the tube successfully with "Evening Shade." ;-)

edwardr42000 said...

Thanks for this article. RIP, Geoffrey.

Polly Esther said...

Thanks for the tribute to this hairy hunk! I love his rugged looks - I prefer him over Tom Selleck, who really did nothing for me (gasp!)
I remember him from Dynasty; use to go to the bars or friends houses for Dynasty viewings (along with drinks and party favors)! The cat fight in the reflecting pool was a MAJOR event!!!
Stay healthy😀