The Stanwyck-Taylor Wedding, May 14, 1939

Here are two accounts of the same event. The differ in tone although not in the facts. You can decide which one you think is more accurate.

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Press Conference, Cafe Victor Hugo

Photo caption: Two popular motion picture stars became man and wife in an after-midnight ceremony early yesterday after motoring from Hollywood to the home of friends in San Diego. The noted film couple had been seen together often for months and had even been reported as already married.

Barbara Stanwyck Weds Robert Taylor on Coast
Drive to San Diego and Wait Until After Midnight to Dodge “13th”
Mrs. Zeppo Marx Is Matron of Honor

Hollywood, May 14. (United Press). Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, whose friendship had been in the hand-holding stage for nearly three years, tonight settled down on an alfalfa farm to begin a life of wedded bliss.

They eloped to San Diego where they were married at midnight by a justice of the peace. Ninety minutes later they were motoring back to Hollywood without benefit of honeymoon. That will come later.

Although their marriage had been expected almost momentarily for several weeks, the manner in which it was carried out was a surprise. For a week they had the license, but no one here except themselves knew of it. The secret had been kept because the license had been issued to them under their legal names—Arlington Brugh and Ruby Stevens. Superstitious of the thirteenth, they waited until after mid-night of the fourteenth—today – to use it.

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Press photo.

The Filley (Neb.) boy who gave up the study of medicine to become a rich and famous celluloid lady-killer took his bride to the home of former District Attorney Whelan for the ceremony. Miss Stanwyck, who start life as the daughter of a Brooklyn bricklayer, was dolled up in a navy blue silk crepe dress and a gold bracelet, glittering with diamonds and rubies.

With them were Mrs. Zeppo Marx as matron of honor; Buck Mack, the bride’s godfather and an actor in his own right, who was best man; Marx, Mrs Ida Koverman, studio secretary and Dalies Frantz, musician and actor.

As the hands of he clock in Whalen’s ornate living room pointed to 12:35 a.m. Whelan carefully pulled down all the curtains lest some outsider peek in and motioned for Justice of the Peace Philip Smith to start the civil ceremony. The vows were read in a few minutes, Taylor gave his wife a gold band wedding ring encircled with rubies, and the nuptials were over.

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Press conference.

At 2 a.m., the newlyweds piled into their car and were driven to Miss Stanwyck’s ranch home in the San Fernando valley, where she grows alfalfa and race horses. Both newlyweds presently are working in pictures, the bridegroom making love to Hedy Lamaar in “Lady of the Tropics” at Metro, and the bride in “Golden Boy” at Columbia.

“It was my second wedding in three days,” Taylor grinned at a press conference. “Friday I was married to Hedy Lamarr at the studio. I could scarcely keep from smiling in front of the cameras because I was thinking of my own plans and how we had kept them secret.”

Asked if they intended to continue breeding horses for the racing stable Miss Stanwyck and Mrs. Marx jointly operate, they nodded.

How about children?” they were asked. Well, we’ll raise horses definitely,” Taylor rejoined.

Miss Stanwyck has an adopted son, Dion Fay, 7, over whom she and her divorced husband, Frank Fay, waged a hectic court battle, which was settled in her favor.

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From Jane Ellen Wayne, Robert Taylor: the Man with the Perfect Face, NY, St. Martin’s Press, 1973, 1987, pp.96-97.

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Engagement photo.

MGM had made arrangements for a wedding and on May 13, Barbara and Bob eloped.

The wedding party had a buffet supper and after midnight, to avoid being married on the unlucky thirteenth day, the ceremony began in a room filled with roses.

Barbara was dressed in a new blue silk dress and borrowed hat from her hairdresser, Holly Barnes, whom Barbara had stood up for the day before.  Buck Mack gave the bride away.  She was very calm and spoke distinctly.

Taylor, in a brown business suit, was visibly shaken and he mumbled. Judge Phil Smith was so nervous he cleared his throat several times and by the end of the ceremony he could hardly talk.

The Bride’s wedding ring was a slender gold band circled with rubies which matched the bracelet Bob had given her for Christmas.

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Press Conference

At 2 p.m. that day the Taylors met the press at a reception at the Victor Hugo Cafe in Beverly Hills. Joel McCrea was the first to telephone congratulations and William Holden sent a telegram–“Gosh, what a blow!” and signed it, “Golden Boy.”

The Taylors said they had taken out their marriage license three days earlier under their real names, Ruby Stevens, age 31, and Spangler Arlington Brugh, age 27.  They admitted that the time they did not know exactly when or where the marriage would take place.

Taylor confessed years later that when MGM finally gave in to his getting married, they masterminded the whole affair and he wasn’t sure what was happening.  “I wasn’t even sure I was in love…The only thing I was allowed to say about the whole thing was “I do.”

The unwritten consensus of the press and the feelings of those who were close to the newlyweds were that it was Barbara Stanwyck who married Robert Taylor–not the other way around.

Wayne goes on to recount that Mr. Taylor went to break the news of his wedding to his mother after the press conference.  She allegedly blackmailed him emotionally to stay with her for the night rather than being with his wife.

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The following photos are supposed to be from the Taylor-Stanwyck honeymoon.  Stanwyck said in 1947 that they never had a honeymoon, but who knows?

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About giraffe44

I became a Robert Taylor fan at the age of 15 when his TV show, "The Detectives" premiered. My mother wanted to watch it because she remembered Mr. Taylor from the thirties. I took one look and that was it. I spent the rest of my high school career watching Robert Taylor movies on late night TV, buying photos of him, making scrapbooks and being a typical teenager. College, marriage and career intervened. I remember being sad when Mr. Taylor died. I mailed two huge scrapbooks to Ursula Thiess. I hope she got them. Time passed, retirement, moving to Florida. Then in 2012 my husband Fred pointed that there were two Robert Taylor movies that evening on Turner Classic Movies--"Ivanhoe" and "Quentin Durward." I watched both and it happened all over again. I started this blog both for fans and for people who didn't know about Robert Taylor. As the blog passes 200,000 views I'm delighted that so many people have come by and hope it will help preserve the legacy of this fine actor and equally good man.
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2 Responses to The Stanwyck-Taylor Wedding, May 14, 1939

  1. rahrah14 says:

    Jane Ellen Wayne is very famously biased against Barbara Stanwyck so her account that Bob was forced into the marriage and didn’t really love Barbara is not surprising.

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