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Gig Young

Gig Young was an American film actor. Born Byron Elsworth Barr in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Young began acting in his teens under his given name, but later changed it to avoid confusion with another actor of the same name. The name Gig Young was taken from a character he played in one of his earliest films, The Gay Sisters (1942).

Signed to a contract with Warner Brothers, Young appeared in supporting roles in numerous films during the 1940s, and came to be regarded as a popular and likeable second lead, playing the brothers or friends of the principal characters. It was in the early 1950s that Young began to play the type of role that he would become best known for, that of the sardonic but engaging and affable drunk. His dramatic work as an alcoholic in Come Fill the Cup (1951), and his comedic role as a tipsy but ultimately charming cad in Teacher's Pet (1958), each earned him nominations for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He won the Academy Award for his role as Rocky, the sleazy dance marathon emcee and promoter in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969).

His career went into decline after this, with rumours that his on-screen drinking had carried over into his off-screen life, although he worked frequently.

Young married the actress Elizabeth Montgomery, 20 years his junior, in 1956. They divorced in 1963. She was the third of his five wives.

In 1978 he married a German actress named Kim Schmidt. Three weeks after their marriage, Young shot her dead and then turned the gun on himself, dying instantly from the wound. Though the case attracted considerable media attention and speculation, Young's motivation for the murder/suicide remains unknown, as he left no suicide note, and his associates could provide no explanation for his action. Police hypothesized that the deaths were the result of a suicide pact.

Gig Young has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to motion pictures, at 6841 Hollywood Boulevard.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Gig Young Facts

Birth NameByron Elsworth Barr
BirthdayNovember 4, 1913
BirthplaceSt. Cloud, Minnesota, USA
Date of deathOctober 19, 1978 (age 64)
Height6' 1" (1m85)  How tall is Gig Young compared to you?
Awards1970 Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor (for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?)
1970 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture (for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?)

Selected Filmography

Walking Distance
The Three Musketeers
Desk Set
That Touch of Mink
Air Force
The Hindenburg
Wake of the Red Witch
Old Acquaintance
Young at Heart
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