Martha Scott was a native of Jamesport, MO, who made her celebrated Broadway bow as Emily Webb in the original 1938 production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer prize-winning “Our Town.” She died at age 90 in June, 2003, from natural causes while hospitalized in San Fernando Valley, CA.
Martha Ellen Scott was born on Sept. 22, 1912, in Jamesport and was remembered as a lovely little girl with long, dark curls, who was very shy. Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. Walter Scott. The Scotts lived in Jamesport from the time Martha Ellen was born until she was about 13 years old. The family then moved to Kansas City and finally to Detroit, Mich.
She attended college at the University of Michigan where she earned a bachelor’s degree in drama in 1934. According to her family, her true and lasting passion was always the theater.
She enjoyed a long and successful acting career, dating from her early days in theater on through movies and television totaling over 60 years. She originate the role of Emily in “Our Town” and earned a 1940 best actress Oscar nomination re-creating the role in her film debut. Wilder’s play is set in a small New England town and portrays the universal cycles of birth, love, and death.
Mrs. Scott’s son, Scott Alsop, said his mother used a cemetery in her hometown to prepare herself for the third act of the play, which takes place in a small town cemetery. “She told me she used that place as her image because it’s so serene and beautiful,” he said. He also noted that her deceased relatives — the Scotts and the McKinleys — “became the Gibbs and the Webbs in the play.”
Martha Scott’s funeral was handled by McWilliams Funeral Home. Among flowers sent were those from Laura Dern, who starred in the movie “Jurassic Park” and also from Mrs. Dern’s mother, Diana Ladd, also a film star. In the late 1970s, Mr. Alsop and his mother visited the cemetery in Jamesport. And, he said, “That’s where she wanted to rest.”
Reprinted from the Gallatin North Missourian, June 4, 2003; and Gallatin Democrat, Oct. 6, 1938.