Saturday, May 30, 2015

Great (Gene) Scott

In the late '70s with the emergence of cable television came a local Los Angeles sensation called Dr. Gene Scott.  He was a TV evangelist who appeared to be on live 20 hours a day.  19 of those hours were spent soliciting donations.   He was unique in that he didn't just ask, he used every sales pitch in the book.  He could cajole you, guilt you, resort to the soft sell, yell at you, or in some cases, just stare into the camera -- for an HOUR.  

As time went on and the FCC closed in on him for not showing his books he became loonier and loonier.  Originally, he wore a nice three-piece suit.  Towards the end he was wearing bizarre hats, leather jackets, and two (yes two) pairs of glasses. 

My writing partner, David Isaacs and I wrote an evening of one-act plays in 1980, all in different comic styles, and all basically LA-themed.   One was a monologue called 555-GIVE, which was modeled after Dr. Gene Scott. 

Today I thought I'd show you Dr. Scott in action, beating the shit out of his viewers, and our one-act.  John Erickson plays the title character and was terrific.  You might remember John as the sidekick on HONEY WEST.

Enjoy and give till it hurts.

The play starts :12 seconds in.

25 comments:

MikeK.Pa. said...

Jimmy Swaggart is still my favorite, especially his sweat-soaked, weepy apology after his trysts with prositutes were disclosed. Speaking of giving, after watching the HBO documentary on Scientology called GOING CLEAR, I went out to get the book of the same title by Lawrence Wright. I've almost completed the book and it's chilling to see what people - intelligent people - will subject themselves to in the name of a "religion." It's a must read. If the book is true, and if the ex-members who provided background are to believed, it's almost like 1930s Nazi Germany mentality within those compounds.

benson said...

"Forty years of Gilligan'a Island" Ken, you must be a prophet. Or have ESPN.

Reminds me of the Rev. Lil' Ed episode of WKRP, too.

Oat Willie said...

I remember an article from the 80s by Joe Bob Briggs or John Waters or somebody,telling us about the Staring Televangelist.

Victor Velasco said...

Hadn't thought about Dr. Scott in a while; his best harangues were about 'bureaucrats'; stuff like '...the sandbox at the park was closed because cats got in and buried too many bureaucrats'. A half hour 'best-of' could be a good show once a week.

Mark Fearing said...

When I first moved to LA, that was one of the first things I found after my TV was set up. I wondered - where have I moved to? I enjoyed watching his show and was never sure what he was truly trying to do. Save souls or entertain. Or both.

Anonymous said...

I remember Gene Scott in his crazy period. We used to call him the hat man. He was very entertaining to watch. Wonder what he did with all his money.

MichaelG

Anonymous said...

Headline on today's HuffPo: "You'll Never Believe How Much Taylor Swift Paid For Her Skirt".

Can we just end humanity for a while?

Jeff Maxwell said...

Play and John Ericson were so good. I just sent him $5,000.

To anyone missing Gene, or maybe you're interested in doing a new play, you can watch his comely wife, Melissa Scott, do her show on television as well. Her set features musical instruments that are never used, and she writes unintelligible things on a white blackboard. She's quite fun to watch for about five-ten minutes, then you want to set fire to your hair.

Allan V said...

Was he the guy who occasionally smoked a big cigar on-camera? Back then, I thought it was pretty wild for a pastor to chomp cigars while he talked to his audience.

DBenson said...

The one memory that remains vivid was Dr. Scott ranting about how donations were a sacrifice unto God, and therefore it was absolutely nobody's business -- not yours, not the government's -- what the money was used for, even if he threw it in the ocean. It was an interesting change from the usual Support Our Good Works line.

Anonymous said...

Used to love Gene Scott. He was a pretty smart guy. Graduated from Stanford with a Dr. of divinity degree. As I said before, Glenn Beck stole Dr Scott's act with the white board and other crazy stuff. My all time favorite was O. L. Jaggers and his golden alter. He and his wife put on quite a show. He came into a radio station (KGBS) I worked for to buy tim for a early Sunday Morning show, but the General Manager would let him on. I did get to met him tho.

Bradley said...

Do these one-act plays exist for public consumption? I'd love to read them.

YEKIMI said...

I tell you what. If more of those religious shows were like this one, you'd never be able to rip me away from the TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtW5upD5oW4

Buttermilk Sky said...

Actually Glenn Beck stole the blackboard routine from Mort Sahl, who stole it from Bishop Sheen. Learn your TV history.

Ed from SFV said...

This guy was a real piece of work. I loved watching his disjointed sermons. I am certain that no theologian in history was more enamored of Paul's letter to the EPHEEEEEESians more than Scott. To this day, any reference I see/hear to this letter brings Scott to my mind.

I never did go to see him perform, er, preach in person. I wish I had.

James Van Hise said...

Didn't he choose to end his show entirely in the 1980s rather than open his books to the government and reveal what he spent the donations on?

Cap'n Bob said...

Just as good as the first time you ran this.

Mike--Scientology is just as bad as it's portrayed, and worse.

Barry Traylor said...

My late mother used to be taken in by these type of con artists and it made me sad (for my mother), but furious at the creeps that do this kind of thing. Like the one right now that wants his flock to give him 65 million for a luxury jet plane. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Johnny Walker said...

"This video is no longer available to a copyright claim by Pastor Melissa Scott"

Damn!

Stoney said...

My memories of Dr.Scott; he would be on channel 8 in Rochester around 1am (unless they were running the Sonto Gold infomercial) and you could never predict what he would do. During the '91 Iraq war there was a song played on his program called "Kill Some Piss-ants For Jesus" which Scott's bandleader had at the ready anytime the Dr. wanted it. I found out about Scott's passing in 2005 through the Doctor Demento Show. Even after his death, Scott was heard on several shortwave radio stations for years until Melissa took over the ministry.

Kittysneezes.com/Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

This is hilarious -- it must be Gene Scott day. Yesterday, this piece I wrote on the Werner Herzog documentary on him, "God's Angry Man" published.

If anyone's interested, the link is: https://unicornbooty.com/watch-werner-herzog-follows-a-notorious-televangist/ --which does include the short documentary (about an hour) embedded in it from YouTube. The doc is a MUST SEE... if nothing else, for the FCC Monkey Band.

Joey H said...

Back in the days of big C-Band satellite dishes I loved to swing around to Dr. Scott's transponder. I recall one episode where it was entirely shots of him driving a speedboat accompanied by girls in bikinis. Hell, I almost called and pledged.

Max said...

"This video is no longer available to a copyright claim by Pastor Melissa Scott"

A copyright claim?! In this day and age when so much is available for free on the internet, irregardless of what so-called "rights holders" think, are we still pretending that copyrights matter?

Brother Herbert said...

The late Lon Huber talked about Gene Scott's programming in the SF Bay Area on his blog, UHF Nocturne:

http://www.uhfnocturne.com/38KVOF_index.html

From Nebraska said...

When I was a young stripling, his show aired for an hour at 12 or 12:30 in the morning on a Kansas TV station. The only time I ever saw the show, as it began (with no credits or opening sequence or on-screen ID), his face was framed in a tight closeup, smoking a cigar and clearly seething. Then he went off on an interminable rant about the ownership, management and even viewers of the station for putting his show on so late and for not providing any financial support.

That was the last episode that ever aired on that station, if memory serves.