• 4 November 1913
  •  St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA

Gig Young


Affable, immensely likable American actor, usually in second leads. A native of Minnesota, his parents John and Emma Barr raised him in Washington, DC. He developed a passion for the theatre while appearing in high school plays. After some amateur experience, he applied for and received a scholarship to the acclaimed Pasadena Community Playhouse. While acting in "Pancho", a south-of-the-border play by Lowell Barrington, he and the leading actor in the play, George Reeves, were spotted by a Warner Brothers talent scout. Both actors were signed supporting player contracts with the studio. Still acting under his given name, Byron Barr, he played bits and extra roles. He experimented with varying screen names because of another actor with the same name (see Byron Barr). In 1942, in the picture The Gay Sisters (1942), he was given the role of a character with the name Gig Young and thereafter adopted the name as his own. He had been supplementing his income working in a gasoline station, but The Gay Sisters (1942) gave him a career boost. Although service with the Coast Guard interrupted his ascension, he returned from the war and soon established himself as a reliable player of light leading men roles, usually secondarily to bigger stars. A dramatic part in Come Fill the Cup (1951) won him a nomination for the best supporting actor Oscar, a feat he repeated seven years later in a comedic role in Teacher's Pet (1958). A prolific television career complemented his film work. In 1969, his surprisingly seedy portrayal of a dance-marathon emcee in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) finally won him the Oscar. A succession of marriages, including one to actress Elizabeth Montgomery, failed. In 1978, three weeks after marrying German actress Kim Schmidt, Young apparently shot her to death in their New York City apartment and then turned the gun on himself. The direct cause of the murder-suicide remains unclear. Young was not quite 65, his bride 31.