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Gig Young Hit Rock Bottom After Losing Blazing Saddles Role

Gig Young isn’t talked about all that much today, though he was once one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. After winning an Academy Award for his role in the 1969 film The Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Gig’s career went on a downward spiral that it never recovered from. Tragically, this downward spiral ended in Gig committing murder and taking his own life. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at how Gig Young hit rock bottom after losing Blazing Saddles role.

Gig Young’s Early Life

Gig Young was born in Washington D.C. in 1913. During his high school years, Gig began performing in school plays. This would instill a passion for the art of acting in the young man, and he would go on to pursue acting professionally upon his coming of age. Gig’s first step towards pursuing a career in acting came when he applied for a scholarship with the Pasadena Community Playhouse in California. Gig ended up securing the scholarship for himself, and began appearing in plays. It was while performing in a play by the name of Pancho that Gig would be discovered by Hollywood executives and subsequently swept into the film industry.

Gig Young wasn’t the only cast member of Pancho to catch the eyes of Hollywood executives. The Hollywood executives in question were also interested the play’s lead, who was an actor by the name of George Reeves. Both Gig Young and George Reeves were then signed with Warner Bros. Pictures. George would go on to portray the titular character in the 1952 television series Adventures of Superman. Sadly, Gig Young would find no such iconic starring role over the course of his own career, which would end in tragedy.

After signing his initial contract with Warner Bros. Pictures, Gig Young could be seen playing minor parts in several films before taking a break from the industry to serve America during World War II. During this time period, Gig served in the United States Coast Guard as a pharmacist’s mate. He started up this tenure in 1941, and kept at it until the war was over. Upon returning to America, Gig was rewarded for serving his country by being notified that he was no longer signed with Warner Bros. Pictures. The actor then had to go about trying to track down work elsewhere.

Gig Found Success with Columbia Pictures

Not long after returning from World War II only to find that he had lost his job with Warner Bros. Pictures, Gig Young was given another contract with a competing studio. This studio was Columbia Pictures, and Gig ended up being put to better use by the studio than he had by Warner Bros. Pictures. It was while working with Columbia Pictures that Gig first started receiving some critical acclaim. He received a couple of Academy Award nominations during this time period. This nominations came via the actor’s work in the films Come Fill the Cup and Teacher’s Pet, respectively. Both of the nominations came in the category of Best Supporting Actor, though Gig still yearned deep down to become a leading man. Sadly, this dream would never come to fruition.

Gig Young’s Academy Award-nominated roles in the two aforementioned films came in the early 1950s, and it wouldn’t be until nearly two decades later that Gig would finally receive a win. Gig’s first and only Academy Award win came in 1970 for the actor’s work in the 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? When it came time for the actor to accept his reward, the moment was bittersweet. On the one hand, the actor was finally receiving something that he had worked for over the course of several decades. On the other hand, the victory wasn’t quite what he had hoped. As established, Gig had never given up the dream of becoming a leading man. When he went to accept his award for Best Supporting Actor, Gig felt like he was being forced to accept the fact that he would never achieve leading-man status.

Perhaps as a result of self-fulfilling prophecy, Gig Young’s Oscar win for his role in 1969’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? would remain the inarguably high point of the actor’s career. Over the course of the 1970s, Gig’s life would fall apart, resulting in his 1978 death. The actor’s poor decisions in his personal life went on to affect his career, and he went on to make even worse decisions out of spite after all of his acting gigs dried up. Sadly, it wasn’t enough for Gig Young to destroy his own life. When it came time for the actor to pass on, he made sure to take his fifth and final wife with him, as well. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

Gig Young Was Never Lucky in Love

Gig Young may have only had one Academy Award win during his lifetime, but he had five wives. In terms of celebrity status, the actor’s most notable wife was inarguably Bewitched’s Elizabeth Montgomery. Gig married the actress in 1956, and they would remain married until 1963. In 1964, Elizabeth Montgomery would receive her iconic role in the aforementioned supernatural sitcom. When Gig and Elizabeth had first gotten married, Gig had certainly been the much bigger star between the two. However, Elizabeth’s role in Bewitched would see her greatly eclipse her former husband’s celebrity status. Over the course of Gig and Elizabeth’s marriage, it has been said that Elizabeth’s famous father never gave his approval. Elizabeth’s father was actor Robert Montgomery, who starred in several notable features during the early years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. One of the reasons that Robert had an issue with the marriage was because of Gig’s alcoholism.

Elizabeth Montgomery may have been the most famous of Gig Young’s five wives, but she certainly isn’t the only one of note. After divorcing Elizabeth, Gig married a woman by the name of Elaine in 1963. Gig fathered his only child with Elaine. That child was named Jennifer, and Gig developed a fairly tumultuous relationship with this daughter in the years leading up to his 1978 death. Gig initially denied that he was Jennifer’s father, which resulted in a court case that spanned five years. At the end of it, Gig was forced to face the truth. In 1966, only a few years after their wedding ceremony, Gig and Elaine divorced. Gig would remain unmarried for over a decade before marrying one final time.

Gig Young had already been dealing with alcoholism during his marriage to Elizabeth Montgomery, and it only got worse over the course of his marriage to Elaine Young. By the time that Elaine divorced the actor and went about starting up her paternity case, Gig was deeper into the bottle than he had ever been before. Things would only continue to get worse leading up to the actor’s untimely and tragic demise. During the early 1970s, Gig had been hired to perform a role in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. Gig was cast in the role of the Waco Kid. Of course, fans of the film will know that this role ended up being performed by Mel’s previous collaborator, Gene Wilder. The reason that Gene had to be brought on to replace Gig was because of Gig’s worsening alcoholism. It has been said that Gig’s alcohol withdrawals were so bad around this point that he was let go from Blazing Saddles during the very first day of the picture’s filming.

Gig Young’s Tragic Downfall

Most cite Gig Young’s 1969 Academy Award win as the peak of his career success, while the actor’s firing from Blazing Saddles marks the point where it was clear that the actor was on a downward trajectory in both his career and his personal life. Gig’s last appearance in a motion picture came via the kung-fu film Game of Death, which was also notable for being a posthumous Bruce Lee vehicle. Bruce had died during the picture’s filming, and the film had to be reworked significantly from it’s original concept in order to be released. Gig was hired onto the picture after Bruce’s death. The film would end up being released only a few months before Gig’s own death. Unsurprisingly, Gig’s role in the kung-fu film didn’t do much for the actor’s career.

In 1978, Gig young got married for a fifth and final time. Gig’s final wife was a woman by the name of Kim Schmidt. Gig had met Kim during the filming of Game of Death, as she worked in the script department on the film. At the time of their marriage, Kim was in her late 20s while Gig was 64. Not long after Gig and Kim’s marriage, tragedy would strike. It seems that Gig had become incredibly unstable by this point in time, and he was actively seeking psychiatric help. Sadly, the man that he was seeking help from likely wasn’t the most trustworthy character. It turns out that Gig was receiving psychiatric treatment from the same doctor that has been blamed for the downfall of The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, with that figure being Dr. Eugene Landy.

Whether as a result of Dr. Eugene Landy’s controversial treatment or simply because of decades of unchecked alcoholism, Gig Young would end up taking his own life by the time 1978 was through. Not only that, but Gig also took his fifth and final wife with him! The authorities were unable to determine why Gig decided to turn the gun on his wife and then himself, though the late actor’s deteriorating mental state was enough for them to decide that the crime wasn’t premeditated. Gig ended up being buried in a ceremony that made a big show of his Academy Award, with the actor having claimed that receiving the award had been the best moment of his life. He then left the award to his agent, while leaving a measly sum of $10 to his only daughter.

Gig Young dreamed of attaining leading-man status in Hollywood, though he was only ever viewed as a supporting player. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Gig Young was fired from the classic comedy Blazing Saddles after only one day of filming, and that he had initially been meant to portray the character of the Waco Kid? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

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