Very good article in the Fall 2012 issue of Guns of the Old West magazine about Western movie icon Randolph Scott.
Scott was born in 1898 to a pretty well to do family, and attended private school. He enlisted in the Army during WWI as a field artillery observer, and used his training in firearms and horsemanship later in his film career. He also earned a commission as an officer before leaving the service in 1919.
He went to college at Georgia Tech, where he played football before sustaining a back injury. He then transferred to the University of North Carolina, majoring in textile engineering and manufacturing. At that time, he started doing some acting, and wanted to pursue acting as a career. He met with Howard Hughes, through a letter of introduction from his father, and started getting small parts in movies, starting with a Hughes production, Sharp Shooters (1928), and he had a small part (as well as being Gary Cooper's dialogue coach) in The Virginian (1929). He laso worked on stage to hone his acting skills.
In 1932, he got a contract with Paramount for $400 a week, where he worked for until 1938. Most of the movies he made were remakes of some of Paramount's earlier movies, where footage of the original films were used to save money. He won some critical acclaim as Hawkeye in the 1936 version of Last of the Mohicans for producer Edward Small. After leaving Paramount, he appeared in movies like Jesse James (1939), Frontier Marshal (as Wyatt Earp, 1939), and Western Union (1941). He made a big splash as swindler Roy Glennister in 1942's The Spoilers, best known for the fistfight between him and John Wayne.
During WWII, he tried to join the Marine Corps as an officer, but was rejected due to his back injury. He went on tour for the USO, doing a comedy act with Joe DeRita (of future 3 Stooges fame). He made a few war pictures during the period, and several other non-Western films, but became exclusively a Western star from the late 1940s until his retirement.
In the 1930s and early '40s, he was roommates with Cary Grant. He married heiress Marion Du Pont in 1936, but they divorced in 1939. He married his second wife Patricia Stillman in 1944, adopting her 2 children, Christopher and Sandra.
He partnered with producer Harry Joe Brown in the late 1940s, and the two produced a string of Westerns through the 1950s, including a run of films written by Burt Kennedy and directed by Bud Boetticher. His last film was 1962's Ride the High Country, co-starring fellow Western star Joel McCrea and directed by Sam Peckinpah. He had a long bout with heart and lung illness, and passed away in 1987 at the age of 89.