Henry E. Scott 3rd Was Talented Artist and Actor
Henry E. Scott 3rd, better known as Hank, eldest son of the late Peggy and Henry Scott of Chilmark, died in Sarasota Memorial Hospital on June 22, just short of his 71st birthday. He had fought a good fight against leukemia and supported well the repeated and tough chemical treatments over the past two and a half years. It was not until his last weeks in the hospital that he admitted, "The work is done."
Hank lived on the Vineyard as a young boy with his family during the last year of World War II, when his father was stationed at the Island's naval air base, now the Martha's Vineyard Airport. After the war, the family moved around a bit, finally settling in Kansas City, Mo., where Hank attended Southwest High School, Class of 1949. It was through the family's friendship with the Thomas Hart Bentons of Chilmark and Kansas City that Hank's father was recommended for the job of director of the fine arts department at the University of Kansas City. Hank benefited from private instruction with the well-known muralist and painter Thomas Hart Benton, so it was natural for him to remain and attend the Kansas City Art Institute, the University of Kansas City and then the University of Missouri.
The Scott family returned every summer to their house in Chilmark. In his young adult years, Hank worked in construction on the Island while also developing his musical skills. Some may still be around who remember the Hank Scott jazz combo of the 1950s, with Hank on drums, playing summer gigs at the Boston House, where the Atlantic Connection is today. Hank continued to paint, initially influenced by Benton. Much of his subject matter was the Vineyard landscape and the life of the Vineyard fishermen. He received a scholarship to the Yale School of Fine Arts (1952-1953), studying there under Josef Albers.
Hank later became known for his colorful abstract paintings, whose flowing gestural rhythms reflected his love of the sea. His interest in mural painting grew during this period. He accepted a commission to paint a mural for the reception lounge of the Intercollegiate Press in Kansas City, Mo., in 1956 when he was just 25 years old.
In 1957, Hank married and settled on Martha's Vineyard with his wife, Alice Magnuson of West Tisbury. Together, they assembled, in the top space of the Windy Gates barn in Chilmark, a mosaic mural measuring eight by 18 feet, designed by Hank and created with Byzantine tile pieces from Venice. They transported the mosaic in sections to Kansas City, Mo., where it was installed on the outside entrance façade of UKC's Pierson Hall in October of 1961.
Soon after this monumental task was completed, Hank accepted positions off-Island: at the Wellesley College Theatre as set design director (1963-1966); at Sarah Caldwell's Boston Opera Company, assisting in set creation (1964-1966); at the Loeb Drama Center of Harvard University as technical director of the 1964 Shakespeare Festival under designer Horace Armistead, and at Boston University as assistant professor of theatre arts (1966-1967), teaching courses in drafting and perspective, design and technical production. Further, hank spent several seasons as set designer with summer stock, notably The Barter Theatre in Abington, Va., in 1967, and The Provincetown Theatre in 1968.
Hank moved to New York city when his marriage ended in divorce in 1968. There, he conceived and executed the stage design for the Eric Blau and Mort Shuman musical production of the songs of the most popular singer-composer in France at the time: Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, performed for several years at the Village Gate on Bleeker street in Manhattan. He was also designer for the Circle Repertory Theatre Company's 1970 production of Chekhov's The Three Sisters. In new York city, he had three solo shows of his paintings and drawings, at the Panoras and Center galleries, from 1968 to 1972. Meanwhile, he maintained a studio-gallery space in Chilmark where he showed his work and offered classes and private instruction in painting and drawing.
Hank is probably best remembered on the Island for his companion dogs and his love of sailing, and he kept returning to the Vineyard to embrace this love. He built and rigged several small craft for getting across Chilmark Pond. Highly visible on the pond was his red sailing canoe, Indian Slipper, complete with orange and green spinnaker and yellow outriggers. On a larger scale, he captained a Vineyard 110, Shadow, which won the famous Moffett Race in 1979 with brother Jonathan on board as crew. As his cousin from Switzerland wrote, "Hank was a first-class sailor and a good teacher of the art of sailing; he wrote excellent articles and stories about sailing." Some of these stories were published in Sail Magazine.
In the late 1980s, Hank moved away from the Vineyard for the last time, but he did not leave a life by the sea. Inspired by participation, along with his mother, Peg Scott, and many friends, in the filming of Jaws on the Vineyard, he moved to the Miami area in Florida, where he found work as an extra in several films. He can be seen as the courtroom artist in The Verdict with Paul Newman. As an actor, Hank used the name Harry MacKensie, the name he had invented on the Vineyard when he had been a classical and jazz deejay for two years on WMVY.
When the movie industry seemed to slow down in Miami, Hank became a real estate agent. This last endeavor led him to Sarasota, where his Florida cousins were living. In December 1999, he was diagnosed with mylogenous leukemia in Sarasota, where he stayed with the excellent medical team which gave him a longer lease on life than most expect from this devastating disease.
True to his creative nature, he spent his final months writing what was to be his first novel, a story set on the Vineyard with allusions to a fictional World War II spy network.
He is survived by his sisters, Anne McGhee and Sarah Cook, and his brother, Jonathan F. Scott; his close first cousin, George Alley; his Florida cousins, the Robert Browns, and Scotty Brown's brother, George Scott; also his cousin in Switzerland, Prescott Stevens; and his mother's cousins, the Bartons, in Charleston, S.C., as well as many nephews and nieces, including five great-nieces. His companion terrier, Rex, predeceased him.
A memorial gathering will take place in Chilmark in the fall. Gifts may be made in the name of Hank Scott or Henry E. Scott 3rd to the Leukemia Society of America, 600 3rd avenue, New York, NY 10016.