January 01, 1999 12:00 AM

Oscar-winning actor and maverick George C. Scott died last night at his Southern California home. He was 71. Authorities have yet to announce the cause of death. Best known for his 1970 portrayal of the controversial World War II general in the film biography “Patton” — a role that won him an Oscar despite the fact that he refused the award on the grounds that actors shouldn’t compete in what he termed a “meat parade” — the Virginia-born Scott was a magnetic screen personality who rose through the ranks of his profession, first appearing in campus and summer stock productions and later starring on TV and the big screen. (Before turning to acting as a career he served in the Marine Corps for four years.) He was married five times, twice to the (late) actress Colleen Dewhurst, mother of his actor son Campbell Scott, 37. (George C. Scott’s middle name was Campbell.) In all, the leading man had five children.

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