Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who is Smokey Lonesome?

He helped Kowalski evade the cops in Vanishing Point... 

He found the kids a nice place to dance in Footloose... 

He enabled Mary Wilcox to get her necrophiliac kink on in Love Me Deadly... 

He played a cop, a criminal, a cowboy, a hillbilly, a hobo, a biker and a general. He worked with a variety of acclaimed directors including Russ Meyer, Norman Jewison, Sydney Pollack, George Roy Hill and Terrence Malick. Unlike his contemporary, Scott Wilson, who burst onto the scene in the film In Cold Blood and became an immediate recognized talent, or Harry Dean Stanton who slowly gained fame through the sheer volume of quality roles amassed, this actor worked in relative obscurity until his untimely death in 1995 at age 57. 

Timothy Scott

Despite a total of 89 film and television roles, often in high profile, high quality projects like In the Heat of the Night, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the Lonesome Dove mini-series, character actor extraordinaire Timothy Scott often performed under the radar with recognition going to his more recognizable costars.  However, Tim Scott deserves to be an inductee in some version of the under-appreciated actors hall of fame, if for no other reason than the sheer diversity in the roles he took on and ably played. An incredibly rangy actor, he went from playing characters such as the likable outlaw News Carver in Butch Cassidy, to chiseling mechanic Mike in Welcome Home, Soldier Boys, to the creepy, sex procuring, pimp-of-the-dead Fred McSweeney in Love Me Deadly. 

As solid and believable as Scott was in those roles, two of his best came soon after. The first as Skylar, the eldest brother of the Feather family, who's forced to become a reluctant participant in his father's feud with the neighboring Gutshall clan. He brought a real compassion to this role and more than held his own with an all-star character actor cast that included Jeff Bridges, Rod Steiger, Scott Wilson, Ed Lauter and Randy Quaid. The second, which may be his best role, was the very disturbed and paranoid criminal Lon in Macon County Line. His spot-on performance was incredibly chilling and one of the best things about the film.

I don't know who it was that first said "The best music soundtrack is the one you are unaware of," but I think this can also be said about great character actors like Timothy Scott. It's the ones who don't chew scenery, and quietly go about their business and get the job done that ultimately impress. In an era of generic, hammy, pretty boy actors, Scott's understated, but undeniably distinctive and far ranging acting skills are sorely missed.

Top ten films with Tim Scott:

In the Heat of the Night
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Vanishing Point
Love Me Deadly
Lolly-Madonna XXX
Macon County Line
Days of Heaven
Fried Green Tomatoes


  1. Ah, I love a good "That Guy"....
    Tim Scott definitely meets the requirements. Great tribute!

  2. Thanks Andrew. Nothing pleases me more than seeing an old familiar face turn up in a good movie. I didn't realize how many favorites of mine Tim Scott was in until now.

  3. Howdy: I am Tim's widow and this is perhaps the most moving piece I've ever read. I can't tell you how much this has touched my heart. I'd love to share it on Facebook, both in the private group I manage for Robert Redford, who also loved Tim, and on Tim's tribute page as well as my own. Thank you, kind sir, for this beautifully written piece. You are a treasure to me.

    Kind Regards,
    Donna Leigh Scott

    1. I'm honored by your kind words ma'am. Thanks so much.

  4. Well, the comments above captured most everything, but the entire truth will always evade capture, because Tim Scott was one of a kind, and there will never be another. I knew him both personally and professionally. Everybody loved Tim and his dedication to acting, but most of all his acute sensitivity to the feelings of others. Most actors, (including myself) get a kick out of being a smart ass, mostly at the expense of other people. I never saw Tim offend anybody. He was one of the kindest people I have ever known -- ultra-sensitive to the feelings of others -- at all times. It was very rare. He has been physically gone for a long time now, but you would never know it by the way people still talk about him. His presence is still felt by those that knew him.