The always fragile Taylor-Stanwyck marriage began to crumble after Taylor returned from World War II. Robert Taylor had matured and become a much stronger man with a new sense of self. Stanwyck no longer attracted him sexually as she reminded him more and more of his manipulative, domineering mother. She retaliated by undermining him both privately and publicly, going so far as to demand that he see a psychiatrist. If Taylor didn’t want her, she was convinced he was gay. As always, Robert Taylor’s response was to withdraw further and further.
Both Taylor and Stanwyck, however, had a lot invested in their marriage and they did attempt to save it. In February 1947 they sailed to England for a trip that was (among other things) designed to draw them closer. Three weeks in England and France had the potential to be a time of healing.
Transcript of Interview given by Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, Southampton, England, February 10, 1947
At Southampton our reporter went aboard the Queen Elizabeth to meet Barbara Stanwyck and husband Bob Taylor. (The reporter is John Parsons of Pathe) On day one of their three week tour of Britain, they had this to say:
JP: Well, Bob, we’re very pleased to see you back again. What are some of your plans? Tell us something about it.
RT: Well, Bob, we’re very pleased to be here in England this trip. It’s my first trip in ten years and Barbara’s first–
BS: And my very, very first trip.
JP: Your first trip to England?
BS: Yes, and I’m very excited about it.
JP: Well, welcome.
BS: Thank you.
JP: Well, now, what are your plans?
RT: Well, we have a few little matters of business to take care of pursuant to the possibility of doing some pictures over here later in the year and other than that we hope to see England and see possibly to see a little of France. We haven’t made definite plans in that respect yet.
JP: Barbara, we’ve all been told that is a second honeymoon for you both. What do you say about it?
BS: Well, it really is the first. We didn’t have one at all you know. We were working when we were married and didn’t get away and then we wanted to come to England in 1939 on our honeymoon but the war stopped us and Bob went in the Navy and that was that.
JP: Now you’ve really come to enjoy yourselves.
BS: (Pauses) Well, yes. We hope so.
JP: I suppose making pictures out in Hollywood you don’t get very much time together.
BS: No, as a matter of fact this is our first vacation together in eight years.
JP: Are you excited about it, Bob?
RT: Yes, very much.
The following is from Charles Tranberg-Robert Taylor, a Biography. 2011, Bear Manor Media, p. 178-179.
In early 1947 Bob and Barbara went on vacation to Europe….within days of arriving [in Paris], on February 24th, it was announced that Barbara had been staying at the American hospital in Neuilly virtually since their arrival while Bob had been situated in their suite at the Hotel George V. The strange explanation given was that Barbara had found the suite in one of Paris’ best hotels too cold, and chose instead to be put up at the hospital–while her husband, with whom she was supposed to be vacationing, stayed at the hotel. The Taylors denied that Barbara was ill, except for a minor cold, and that the couple had met several times for dinner. In retrospect, given their increasing estrangement, it seems likely that something unpleasant happened between the couple…..which cast a pall over the entire trip. Such a pall that they decided it would be best if they spent more time separated than together.
These are some photographs from that trip:
The Ideal Home Show is an annual event in London. The show was devised by the Daily Mail newspaper in 1908 and continued to be run by the Daily Mail up until 2009. It was then sold to events and publishing company Media 10. Its goal is to bring together everything associated with having an “ideal home”, such as the latest inventions for the modern house, and to showcase the latest housing designs. A regular feature of the show for many years was the Ideal House Competition where designs were invited and the winning schemes erected at the exhibition the following year. In 1947 the first microwave oven was launched. (The Ideal home information is from Wikipedia.)