Gig Young specialized in the 1950s version of the Randolph Scott character. Where Scott never got the girl and was generally something of a boob, Young never got the girl and was something of a suave sleaze. At least, that’s the memory of his performances I carry around, which may be colored by his Oscar-winning turn in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?.
Like most stars of his era, Young saw his career slipping in the 1960s and ’70s, and his alcoholism and messy personal life (five marriages, including one to Elizabeth Montgomery) didn’t help matters; he was fired his first day of work on Blazing Saddles after collapsing on set from the DT’s. Gene Wilder replaced him.
Anyway, at 64, he married the 31-year-old Kim Schmidt. Three weeks later, he and Schmidt were found dead in their Manhattan apartment on West 57th Street. Earlier that day, he had taped an episode of a TV show that ultimately never aired, before going home and shooting Schmidt and then himself. No motive was ever discovered, though at the time, Young was seeing psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Landy. You know, Brian Wilson’s shrink.
He left behind a 14-year-old daughter, whom he had claimed wasn’t his biological child during a messy divorce. In his will, he bequeathed her $10, leaving his Oscar to his agent. His daughter was later roommates with Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss, eventually suing to get her father’s Oscar. She received it upon her father’s agent’s death in 2002.