Who can say what led Gig Young to murder his wife of only three weeks? Or what then led him to comit suicide?
To understand a little better his tortured psyche would need access to the man’s psychological state, which needless to say, I do not possess.
Young won an oscar for his role in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? He was an immensely likeable actor, with a pleasantly bemused manner.
His first film was Misbeving Husbands (1940), He married Elizabeth Young (Bewitched) and they were together for six years.
It was at this point that the hithretoo successful life of Gig Young began to unravel, and blow up into a million pieces. Young was cast to play the Sheriff on the Mel Brook western Blazing Saddles as the drunken sheriff. In Brooks’ words:
“We draped Gig Young’s legs over and hung him upside down. And he started to talk and he started shaking. I said, ‘This guy’s giving me a lot. He is giving plenty. He’s giving me the old alky shake. Great.’ And then it got serious, because the shaking never stopped, and green stuff started spewing out of his mouth and nose, and he started screaming. And, I said, ‘That’s the last time I’ll ever cast anybody who really is that person.’ If you want an alcoholic, don’t cast an alcoholic… Anyway, poor Gig Young, it was the first shot on Friday, nine in the morning, and an ambulance came and took him away. I had no movie.”
Gene Wilder flew from New York to Los Angeles over the weekend and was playing the Waco Kid on Monday morning, but that’s another story.
The DTs didn’t deter Gig Young and he was still firmly on his downward spiral when he hooked up with director Sam Peckinpah (another guy on a downward spiral) to make a couple of ultra-violent, nihilistic movies — 1974′s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and 1975′s The Killer Elite.
(It seems to be during the making of these films that Gig Young started collecting guns.)
Young’s career hit rock bottom with Game of Death, the film was a patchwork remake of scenes from a 1973 Bruce :Lee film after he died on set, So there you have it: not the best position to remarry in. Gig Young married Australian Betty Schmidt, No one knows why she married him, maybe it was the oscar, Only three weeks into the marriage, Young shot and killed her and then turned the gun on himself. Young had gone from the toast of Hollywood to star of one of the most shocking real life tragedies in Hollywood history.