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Byron Elsworth Barr

Birthplace: St Cloud, MN, United States
Death: October 19, 1978 (64)
New York, NY, United States (Suicide: Self-inflicted gunshot wound to head)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Earl Barr and Emma Barr
Husband of Kim Schmidt
Ex-husband of Sheila Stapler; Sophie Rosenstein; Elizabeth Montgomery and Elaine Young
Father of Private
Brother of Genevieve Susan Merry

Occupation: Actor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Gig Young

Amiable supporting player and occasional lead Gig Young broke into film in the early 1940s. He often played the dapper, likable second banana to the major stars of the time. For his contribution to the television industry, Young has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard.

Born Byron Elsworth Barr in St. Cloud, Minnesota on November 4, 1913, his parents John and Emma Barr raised him and his older siblings in Washington D.C. He developed a passion for the theatre while appearing in high school plays, and 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 to supporting player contracts with the studio. His early work was uncredited or as Byron Barr (not to be confused with another actor with the same name, Byron Barr), but after appearing in the 1942 film The Gay Sisters as a character named "Gig Young", the studio decided he should adopt this name professionally.

While he proved capable in several dramatic parts (notably as the sleazy emcee in the haunting "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" which brought him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), Young seemed destined to play debonair cads and slightly inebriated playboys who never win the female lead in the end in sophisticated light comedies such as "Desk Set" (1957), "Teacher's Pet" (1958) and "That Touch of Mink" (1962).

Alcoholism plagued his later years, causing him to lose acting roles. He was fired on the first day of shooting the comedy film Blazing Saddles after collapsing on the set due to withdrawals from alcohol. Young's last role was in the 1978 film Game of Death (1979), a film released nearly six years after the film's star, Bruce Lee, died in 1973.


  1. Sheila Stapler lasted seven years, ending in 1947.
  2. Sophie Rosenstein (m. 1950), the resident drama coach at Paramount, who was several years Young's senior. She was soon diagnosed with cancer, and died just short of two years after the couple's wedding.
  3. Elizabeth Montgomery and Young met after she appeared in an episode of Warner Bros. Presents in 1956, and the two married later that year. In 1963, Montgomery divorced Young because of his alcoholism.
  4. Elaine Williams married Young nine months after his divorce from Montgomery was final. Williams was pregnant with Young's child at the time and gave birth to his only child, Jennifer, in April 1964. After three years of marriage, the couple divorced. During a legal battle over child support with Williams, Young denied that Jennifer was his biological child. After five years of court battles, Young lost his case.
  5. Kim Schmidt married Young on October 19, 1978. Three weeks after his marriage to Schmidt, the couple were found dead at home in their Manhattan apartment. Police theorized that Young shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself in a murder-suicide. No motive for the murder-suicide was ever made clear.

He was buried in the Green Hill Cemetery in Waynesville, North Carolina. Young's will, which covered a $200,000 estate, left his Academy Award to his agent, Martin Baum and Baum's wife, Bernice.

Sources: Yahoo, Hollywood Dreamland, Wikipedia

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Gig Young's Timeline

November 4, 1913
St Cloud, MN, United States