Gig Young

Gig Young
Bert Six / Warner Brothers


Gig Young
TV: North side of the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Byron Barr on Nov. 4, 1913 in St. Cloud, MN
Died Oct. 19, 1978 of suicide in Manhattan, NY

Gig Young was the handsome actor who won an Academy Award as the fast-talking promoter of a Depression-era dance marathon in Sydney's Pollack's "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" (1969).

Known publicly for his "light-hearted sophistication," underneath there was inner despair, according to his friend Red Buttons. Young's inner darkness took center stage in 1978 when he shot his wife of three weeks, Kim Schmidt, with a .38-caliber pistol and then turned the gun on himself in the couple's Manhattan apartment, according to police. A diary in the blood-soaked bedroom where the couple died was open to Sept. 27, and "We Got Married Today" was written on the page. Young was married five times.

Young started out in Hollywood with high hopes. He earned rave reviews in "The Gay Sisters" (1942), his first major film role and adopted his character's name, Gig Young as his stage name. He was cast in prominent supporting roles and received two Academy Award nominations, before his 1969 win, for his work in "Come Fill the Cup" (1951) as a somewhat true-to-life alcoholic, and as Dr. Hugo Pine, the charming professor in "Teacher's Pet" (1958), starring Clark Gable and Doris Day. Young's light comedic charm was on display in a string of prominent romantic comedies, most notably "That Touch of Mink" (1962) with Cary Grant and Doris Day, "Young at Heart" (1954) starring Frank Sinatra and Doris Day, and "Desk Set" (1957) starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

But Young was dissatisfied. Out of 55 pictures in 30 years, "there are not more than five that were any good or any good for me," he once said. Disillusioned, he sought reprieve on the Broadway stage with considerable success in "Oh Men, Oh Women," "Under the Yum Yum Tree," "Teahouse of the August Moon" and "There's a Girl in My Soup."

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Points of interest

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1951 Best Supporting Actor Come Fill the Cup Nomination
    1958 Best Supporting Actor Teacher's Pet Nomination
    1969 Best Supporting Actor They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Win

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