The title of Audie Murphy's autobiography, "To Hell and Back," could describe the battles fought by local actor Scott Douglas Morgan, who died Oct. 6 at University Medical Center.
Scott battled drugs, alcohol and same-gender attraction issues and eventually overcame them. He was 49 and succumbed after nearly a year of failing health to HIV-AIDS. He died much too young after living a life that was more dramatic than anything you'd see on stage at Hale Centre Theatre, where he spent most of his past few years.
He performed on stages throughout the area for nearly three decades, from Utah Musical Theatre productions in Ogden to shows at the old Promised Valley Playhouse. His roles varied from John Adams in "1776" to Daddy Warbucks in "Annie" to Father in "Ragtime."
But there was one role as Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" that offered a defining moment in his life.
After graduating from Granger High School and serving an LDS Church mission in Paris, France, Scott drifted into the gay lifestyle. His wife, Tammy Eves, said last week that Scott never tried to hide what he had been, because mostly like Scrooge he was able to turn his life around.
Scott and Tammy first met when he was playing Prince Charming at Promised Valley Playhouse. "I was his dresser and I thought he was so cute," she said, but it wasn't until 1997, when he was cast as an understudy for Scrooge, that he began his remarkable transformation.
During his earlier wild years, he struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol. He also contracted HIV-AIDS, which ultimately ravaged his body. Even as late as 15 years ago, when Scott was performing at Hale Centre Theatre in its old South Salt Lake venue, he would show up either drunk or high on drugs.
"I was always told to 'keep an eye on Scott,"' Tammy said. "Mark Dietlein (co-owner of HCT), would take him out in back mostly so the younger cast members wouldn't see him in that condition and help him calm down and sober up. Mark was his buddy and really helped him a lot."
On June 28, 1999, following the curtain call for the final performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" at HCT, Scott proposed to Tammy. Three months later, they were married onstage by Dietlein. Two years after that, on Aug. 30, 2002, they were sealed in the LDS Church's Salt Lake Temple.
For anyone who doubts that making a change in your life is possible, Scott's mantra was, "It's all about choice."
After suffering through some bad choices, he focused on better ones. He had been excommunicated from the LDS Church a few months before his marriage, but later, after having been reinstated, he was called to serve on the Midvale North Stake High Council. He came home and told Tammy how loving it felt to be sitting alongside many of the same men who had been involved in his excommunication.
Tammy said that about a year ago, after Scott's health became worse, their stake president kept Scott's seat on the high council open, just in case he felt well enough to return. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
Scott and Tammy shared the stage together for the last time in December 2006 in Rodgers Memorial Theatre's production of the Broadway version of "A Christmas Carol."
At the time of his death, Scott was working on a book about his life.
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