Robert Taylor: Handsome and Modest

Robert Taylor
Few Actors Have More Handsome and More Modest
By Ronald L. Bowers
Films in Review
Volume XVIII, No. 1
January 1967

Robert Taylor is an exceptionally handsome man, but that does not explain his stardom.

Robert Taylor in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

An analysis of his face yields this truth: the proportions of forehead, eyes, nose, cheeks, lips and chin are perfect individually and in ensemble. In addition, his coloring, especially the blue eyes beneath dark hair, is striking; his chest, arms and legs are well formed; and his carriage is gracefully masculine.

Other actors have been equally blest in such ways but have failed to quicken the particular kind of yea-saying, in both men and women, that is the sine qua non of stardom. For though good looks are an asset, unless they put an audience’s imagination to work and lead men and women to guess about the inner man, and to like what they surmise that inner man to be, good looks are the proverbial snare and delusion.

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Robert Taylor as Ivanhoe, 1952.

Beneath Robert Taylor’s good looks audiences sensed the character traits men immemorially have preferred: strength, modesty, rectitude, honor. Although these old fashioned virtues have nothing to do with frenetic intellectualism, even today’s frenetic audiences were delighted to see them exemplified, via Robert Taylor, by a handsome man.

There are limitations in an actor whose chief commodity is this embodiment of latent wishes of the human race, and yet the role-range for such a player is greater than is commonly supposed. Since the human race’s profoundest wishes are eternal verities, the actor who personifies them is appropriate to any time and place, as Taylor proved in Camille and Quo Vadis. But they are inappropriate to the meretricious and the factitious, as Taylor proved whenever he let himself be cast in a pointless melodrama, or as a villain.

Robert Taylor was born in the small town of Filley, Nebraska, on August 5, 1911, the only child of Spangler Andrew and Ruth Adelia [Stanhope] Brugh and was named Spangler Arlington Brugh.

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One year old Spangler Arlington Brugh with his parents Ruth and Spangler Andrew Brugh, 1912.

His father was a grain merchant and while Taylor was still very young his mother developed a heart ailment which prompted the father to turn to the study of medicine. After attending classes in a school in Kirksville, Missouri, Mr. Brugh practiced medicine in Fremont, Nebraska, in association with another physician. Two years later, in ’18, the Brughs settled in Beatrice, Nebraska, where Taylor attended grade and high school.

In the latter he was active in track and tennis, played the cello, and excelled in public speaking. Indeed, for an oration entitled “The Peculiar Position held by School Teachers in Public Society” he won a trip to Detroit. When he graduated, in’29, he enrolled in Doane College in nearby Crete, Nebraska, with the idea of becoming a doctor. But his mother urged him to continue with the cello, and, when his music teacher at Doane, Professor Herbert E. Gray, transferred to Pomona College in Claremont, California, she induced Dr. Brugh to allow their son to go there also.

Taylor says he now cannot remember why, at Pomona, he joined the drama club and appeared in its productions of Camille, The Importance of Being Earnest and M’Lord the Duke. In any case, during his senior year, he was seen as Captain Stanhope in Journey’s End by Ben Piazza, an MGM casting director, who offered him free acting lessons at the studio on weekends.

Taylor then had no acting ambitions and turned the offer down, but after graduating from Pomona (June ’33) acting began to seem to him to be a not unattractive way of earning a

"A Murder Has Been Arranged, Pomona College, 1933.

“A Murder Has Been Arranged, Pomona College, 1933.

living, and he enrolled in the Neely Dixon Dramatic School in Hollywood.

That August his father became seriously ill and Taylor returned to Nebraska. His father died in October and, a month later, his mother proposed that she and Taylor move to California and that he resume study at the Neely Dixon School and begin pursuing an acting career in earnest.

Taylor’s first encouragement was a screen test at Goldwyn’s on a fourteen day option, although nothing came of it. Then Oliver Tinsdell, a drama coach at MGM, recommended that he be given a 7-year contract, and, on February 26, ’34, he was. The starting salary was $35 a week. Ida Koverman, Louis B. Mayer’s major domo, suggested the name “Robert Taylor.” Tinsdell took over Taylor’s acting education.

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Robert Taylor and Binnie Barnes in “There’s Always Tomorrow,” 1934.

His film debut was on loan-out to Fox in a Will Rogers vehicle called Handy Andy (’34) in which he played the beau of Rogers’ daughter. He was next lent to Universal to play Frank Morgan’s son in There’s Always Tomorrow (’34), in which Binnie Barnes made her US film debut. Supporting roles followed in A Wicked Woman (’35), which starred Mady Christians and Jean Parker, and Buried Loot (’35), the first of MGM’s Crime Does Not Pay series of shorts. He was then cast as the young intern in Society Doctor (’35), a role which elicited a little fan mail. MGM raised his pay to $50 a week and quickly used him as a flying cadet in West Point of the Air (’35); a night club host in Times Square Lady (’35); a Navy lieutenant in Murder in the Fleet (’35).

Then, to see how Taylor would be in a musical, MGM put him in the Broadway Melody of 1936 (released in ’35). He played a theatrical producer and sang one song, “I’ve Got a Feeling You’re Fooling,” and danced with June Knight. He was given no further singing-dancing assignments.

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Magnificent Obsession, 1935.

But he was chosen by Universal to play opposite Irene Dunne in Magnificent Obsession, and it was his performance in that tried-&-true sudser which lifted him to stardom. The same role in the ’54 remake did the same thing for Rock Hudson. Recalls Irene Dunne: “I remember sitting with John Stahl looking at some film of Robert Taylor before Magnificent Obsession started shooting. Anyone who knows Stahl knows he made all the decisions. But I like to recall that I did tell him I thought Bob entirely right for the part. And it was pleasant working with Bob Taylor. He always assumed his full share of responsibility.”

Thereafter Taylor was cast opposite Hollywood’s brightest female stars. In Small Town Girl (’36) he is a Boston socialite doctor who marries Janet Gaynor while intoxicated, and in Private Number (’36) he is a wealthy college student who falls in love with the family maid played by Loretta Young. Said Miss Young four years later: “I worked with Bob Taylor just after the big furore about him got underway, and he was being hailed as the new great lover. I don’t know what I expected him to be like, but I found him a surprisingly normal person, neither fussed nor conceited. He was simply doing his work and letting matters take their own course. It’s always easy to get along with anyone like that.”

It was by being cast as an idealistic medical student [in a film] called His Brother’s Wife that Taylor, in ’36, met Barbara Stanwyck, whom he was fated to marry. She had just divorced Frank Fay and within comparatively few months they were seen together so often that columnists demanded an explanation. Said Taylor, one one of show-business’

Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck in "His Brother's Wife," 1936.

Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck in “His Brother’s Wife,” 1936.

great understatements, “Barbara is the sort of woman I’d never have met in Nebraska.”

After playing opposite her in His Brother’s Wife, and opposite Joan Crawford in The Gorgeous Hussy, in which Crawford portrayed the Peggy Eaton of Andrew Jackson’s administration, Taylor reached his apogee by playing Armand in Greta Garbo’s Camille. Said he a few years later: “I was a scared kid of 25 and she was 31, in full bloom, already a fantastic legend.” Said the NY “Times” in its review of that box-officer: “Taylor avoids the callousness of previous Armands.”

After Camille, Robert Taylor was eagerly sought for their films by all of Hollywood’s foremost actresses, and it has seemed to curious to many that MGM should have paired him with Jean Harlow in a frivolous comedy called Personal Property. I suspect the reason was the studio knew she was mortally ill, that it feared the signs would show in her performance, and hence on the screen, and that it used Taylor as “box-office insurance.” Personal Property was Jean Harlow’s last picture. After it was finished Taylor accompanied her to Washington where they attended President Roosevelt’s birthday ball, for the benefit of the March of Dimes, on January 30, 1937. Six months later, on June 7, Harlow was dead.

To exploit the public’s awareness of his interest in Barbara Stanwyck, 20th Century Fox borrowed him and put them in This Is My Affair (’37), in which he is the dashing Navy lieutenant who, as an under-cover agent, is sent by President McKinley to solve

Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck in "This Is My Affair," 1937.

Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck in “This Is My Affair,” 1937.

mysterious bank robberies in the Middle West.

Taylor was aware that his looks, and not acting ability, accounted for his having become one of Hollywood’s greatest money-making stars. He was also aware that good looks do not last forever, and he began to feel that a certain proportion of his roles should require acting ability as well as looks. Unlike some performers, he found MGM’s Louis B. Mayer more than cooperative.

Taylor respects Mayer and credits him with much of his success. Said Taylor in a ’64 interview: “Some writers have implied that Mayer was tyrannical and abusive, and a male prima donna who out-acted his actors. As I knew him, he was kind, fatherly, understanding and protective. He gave me picture assignments up to the level that my abilities could sustain at the time, and was always there when I had problems. I just wish today’s young actors had a studio and boss like I had. It groomed us carefully, kept us busy in picture after picture, thus giving us exposure, and made us stars. My memories of ‘L.B.’ will always be pleasant, and my days at MGM are my happiest period professionally.”

After Taylor’s talks with Mayer MGM promoted Taylor in he-man parts. Two of the three Taylor films released in ’38 are examples. In A Yank at Oxford he was successfully cast as he football hero who becomes involved with a coquette (Vivien Leigh). That film, incidentally, was MGM’s first production at its studio in Denham, England, and Taylor’s journey to make the picture was his first trip abroad.

Robert Taylor in "The Crowd Roars," 1938.

Robert Taylor in “The Crowd Roars,” 1938.

His other he-man role that year was as an ethical young boxer who accidentally kills a man in the ring in The Crowd Roars, which co-starred Maureen O’Sullivan and Frank Morgan.

MGM, of course, also continued to put him in routine programmers: Three Comrades with Margaret Sullavan; Stand Up and Fight, his first Western; Lucky Night with Myrna Loy; Lady of the Tropics, with a lushly photographed Hedy Lamarr; and a fairly amusing situational comedy called Remember?, with Greer Garson.

On May 14, ’39, Taylor and Babara Stanwyck, accompanied by Zeppo and Marian Marx, and by Ida Koverman, were married in San Diego. They rented a house in Beverly Hills from Colleen Moore’s mother, and “Buck” Mack, the vaudevillian who had taught Stanwyck to dance, and who was her godfather, came to live with them.

Right after his marriage, Taylor did the film which is his favorite Taylor picture: Waterloo Bridge, a cinemazation of Robert E. Sherwood’s play, in which he was teamed again with Vivien Leigh. It’s his favorite, he says, “because it came at a time when I didn’t think I was a good actor. When I saw the picture, I was surprised—along with everybody else.”

After appearing in Escape, Ethel Vance’s anti-Nazi tale of a son (Taylor) who maneuvers to free his mother from a concentration camp, he did his second Western, Billy the Kid (’41). Its Gene Fowler script whitewashed that criminal via the usual fictions. The NY

Robert Taylor in "Billy the Kid," 1941.

Robert Taylor in “Billy the Kid,” 1941.

“Times” called it a “routine horse-opera” and added that “the magnificence of Robert Taylor, which is always something to behold, is here diminished by the scenery.”

Billy the Kid is a good example of the sort of film Taylor should avoided. It required no acting ability, and hence can’t be excused on those grounds. And it did nothing for his screen image. Taylor was not, at that phase of his career, sufficiently knowledgeable to pick films which would advance him beyond the “male glamor” roles his detractors mocked him for. Miss Stanwyck, ten much shrewder about such matters, was too busy with her own career to give him the guidance she could have.

Johnny Eager is another example of the sort of film Taylor could, and should, have avoided. He is a heavy in it—a gangster who frames the daughter of a district attorney and then falls in love with her. Van Heflin, in a supporting role, stole this picture from both Taylor and Lana Turner, and won an Academy Award in doing so.

Robert Taylor in "Johnny Eager," 1941.

Robert Taylor in “Johnny Eager,” 1941.

As though the above two misjudgments weren’t enough, Taylor, who at that time could have had script approval if, indeed, he hadn’t, then went into the debacle called Her Cardboard Lover, Norma Shearer’s worst, and last, film.

His next two pictures were part of MGM’s war effort. Stand By for Action (’42) is a US counterpart of England’s In Which We Serve, but without such good characterizations. Bataan (’43) is more realistic. Taylor is one of thirteen expendable soldiers, the hard-bitten sergeant who is the last to die (at the edge of his self-dug grave). But the picture isn’t as good as that phase of WW II deserves.

Except for a guest appearance in The Youngest Profession (’43), Taylor’s last film before enlisting in the Navy is the controversial Song of Russia (’44), in which he is an American symphony orchestra conductor who tours Russia and falls in love with a Russian girl. Taylor did not want to complete this film for two reasons; he was anxious to enlist, and he considered Song of Russia to be pro-Communist. When it was released the NY “Times” called it “a honey of a topical film, full of rare good humor, rich vitality and a proper respect for the Russians’ fight in this war” and “close to being the best film on Russia by Hollywood.” But in ’47 the House Un-American Activities Committee, investigating Communist influence in Hollywood, considered it as an example of such influence. Louis B.Mayer acknowledged it was friendly to Russia but said it had been produced at a time when the Russian situation at Stalingrad was desperate and our national leaders were pleading for all-out support for Russia. Mayer also said the film’s final script was little more than a boy-girl story set in Russia with music by Tchaikowsky.

Taylor appeared before the Committee and declared that many points he had considered

Robert Taylor testifying before the HUAC, 1947.

Robert Taylor testifying before the HUAC, 1947.

pro-Communist were not in the final script. But he also said there had been “more indications” of Communist activity in Hollywood in the past 4 or 5 years, and that there were actors and actresses who “if not Communists, are working awfully hard to be so.” He called this group a “disturbing influence” and said all Communists should be forced to live in Russia.

Taylor was a licensed civilian pilot when he enlisted in the Navy’s Air Corps and was soon commissioned a lieutenant (j.g.) and assigned to be a flying instructor. He also directed 17 training films and spoke the narration of the Oscar-winning documentary The Fighting Lady (’44).

After his discharge from the Navy in November ’45, as a senior grade lieutenant, he resumed his film career by appearing with Katharine Hepburn and Robert Mitchum in Undercurrent (’46), an unsuccessful psychological thriller in which Taylor kills a man in order to steal his invention and become a tycoon.

In ’47 Taylor and Miss Stanwyck motored through Europe for several months. There were those who regarded the trip as an attempt to save their marriage.

Except for Quo Vadis, the pictures Taylor made between the time of his return to the US (’48) and his divorce from Miss Stanwyck (February 25, ‘520, are a nondescript lot. In High Wall he is a neurotic war veteran. The Bribe is a melodrama about smuggling in the Caribbean (with Ava Gardner). In Conspirator, which he made in England with Elizabeth Taylor, he is a Communist agent. And he made two Westerns—Ambush and The Devil’s Doorway.

Quo Vadis is a major motion picture effort that wears well. Indeed, I think that abccinemazation of the Sienkiewicz novel belongs in the top rank of motion picture spectacles. And although Mr. Taylor’s performance as the commander of a Roman legion who falls in love with a Christian was not especially praised when Quo Vadis was first released (’51), I consider it a prime example of something Taylor came to do extremely well: i.e., exemplifying historically or literarily symbolical figures. In short, embodying abstractions—human hopes and desires.

He certainly did this effectively in the title role of Ivanhoe, and, I would argue, as the pilot who led our atom-bomb expedition over Japan in Above and Beyond. And he certainly did it in Knights of the Round Table and Quentin Durward.

A few months after his divorce from Miss Stanwyck, he met, on a blind date, a German-born model with two children named Ursula Schmidt-Hut Thiess. She had married, at 18 after a brief training as an actress with a repertory company, the German film director George Thiess. They had two children, Manuela and Michael, and divorced in ’47. She thereupon became a model, and, as the result of an appearance on a “Life” cover, was offered a contract with RKO by Howard Hughes. She arrived in the US on May 23, 1951, and on April 24 ’52, met Taylor. They married on May 24, ’54. She appeared in

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Taylor on the set of "The Detectives."

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Taylor on the set of “The Detectives.”

five films and in a few segments of Taylor’s TV series, The Detectives. They have two children –Terence (b: 6/18/55) and Tessa (b. 8/16/59)–and live on an 113-acre ranch in the Mandeville Canyon.

After Louis B. Mayer was ousted from MGM, to be replaced by Dore Schary,Taylor’s pictures, with a few exceptions, steadily deteriorated and in ’59 his neighbor, Dick Powell, interested him in television. For three years Taylor played Captain Matt Holbrook in The Detectives, which ran two years as a half-hour show and then a third year as an hour one. “Television is a lot of fun,” Taylor said at the time. ‘You go in and get it done. No time is wasted, as in the movie business.”

He recently succeeded Ronald Reagan as host, narrator and actor on the fifteenth TV season of Death Valley Days.

Taylor is one of the most modest of actors. He has frequently referred to himself as “a punk kid from Nebraska who’s had an awful lot of the world’s good things dumped in his lap.” He attributes his success more to luck than to ambition and says: “I’ve never been terribly ambitious—simply wanted to do a good job at whatever I did. The reviews usually said I gave an adequate or good performance. I never got raves, but neither did I get pans. I’ve never had an Oscar and probably never will. I’m content to try to do as well as I can.”

MGM Stars, 1953/4.

MGM Stars, 1953/4.

Taylor thinks the star system at MGM in its great days was exactly right for him. “My metabolism doesn’t lend itself to the Davis-Cagney brand of high-pressure careering,” he says. “I stayed with one studio for 20 years, took what they gave me to do, did my work. While I wasn’t happy with everything, I scored pretty well.”

“If I didn’t need the money I make on TV,” he told “TV Guide” in ’61, “I tell myself I’d hunt and fish all the time. Ernest Hemingway got me interested in it years ago, and looking forward to hunting and fishing has often, in this business, kept me from going nuts.”

“People seem to think I’m a millionaire, but I’m not. I’ve saved a little money, but every time a chance came along to really strike it rich outside the movie business, like the real-estate deals of some stars, I was always a dollar short or a day late. It’s the story of my life.”

Robert Taylor, 1950s.

Robert Taylor, 1950s.

 

 

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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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12 Responses to Robert Taylor: Handsome and Modest

  1. dianne345 says:

    I agree with some of what this guy says, but thought “Personal Property” was delightful, “3 Comrades” anything but a “routine programmer” & “Stand Up & Fight” a great action film in which RT more than held his own with with the gruff Wallace Beery. And I think Bob made a fine Billy the Kid for the whitewashed version he was give to play. And he was great in “Bataan, “Johnny Eager” & “Above & Beyond” (the writer seems to agree on this one). I loved his ’50s costume flicks (my favorites actually) which except for “Quo Vadis” were made after the Schary takeover, during which his career did not suffer. Also loved “Valley of the Kings,” “All the Brothers Were Valiant,” “Many Rivers to Cross” & “Party Girl.” Not to mention his fine performances in the westerns “Saddle the Wind,” “The Law & Jake Wade” & his super bad guy role in “The Last Hunt.” And I love “D-Day, the Sixth of June,” made for Fox in 1956, & his return to MGM for “The Power & the Prize.” I think his last pictures on the big screen before going into TV were mostly very good ones & think his decision to do TV may have been premature, although I loved “The Detectives,” especially the episodes in which Ursula appeared.

    • June says:

      Sorry Dianne, I was in such a hurry to write my post before my computer crashed I did not go back to your post, instead, because your comments about your favorite films were so much like Su’s, I thought it was Su’s comments. Just shows that so many of us have a common strain of thought
      .And Judith the current picture on this page is one of my very favorites, love it.

  2. giraffe44 says:

    I’m with you. I love the first few paragraphs of the article but then by the 50s I think the guy had gotten tired of writing it. He skipped a lot of good films, as you point out. I do like the thought that Mr. Taylor embodied the kind of positive values that people need so badly. I do love The Detectives. Have you seen Secret Assignment, where Matt goes undercover? I haven’t and I’d love to. The photos are intriguing.

    • dianne345 says:

      The Secret Assignment episode is not one of the 70 I received (I checked the notes I made after watching each one several years ago). These are in English & the quality is not good on many of them. You must be referring to the good-quality episodes in German. I took a couple of semesters of German at night back in 1973-74, I had taken a group tour of Germany, Austria & Switzerland in 1972 & wanted to revisit & see more of those countries, which I did with a friend in 1975 & actually could speak a little German with the natives of those countries on that trip. But 1975 was almost 40 years ago & I doubt that I have retained enough to understand the German episodes. It would be great if the original English soundtracks could be restored to the German episodes (with the voices of the original actors, of course – not dubbed) but I doubt there would be sufficient demand for this to be done (just a few nutty people like those of us on this blog).

      • giraffe44 says:

        Oh, I think there are more of us than you might think. I’ve had over 87,000 views on the blog in 2 years + a bit. It’s surprising, too, how much the mind retains. When I’m watching a German episode all of a sudden I understand a whole passage. Of course, frequent viewing helps. One of my favorites is “The New Man.” I think it was the first one Ursula did. It ends with Mark Goddard calling Ursula while she and Matt are having dinner together and she gives the phone to him.

  3. June says:

    Hi Judith, have come home to dramas with my computer having had to replace Windows XP and my replacement Windows 7 has given me nothing but grief, with persistent intermittent shutdown. Going to the workshop on Monday but wanted to comment on your latest blog. Thank you for publishing the article as his opening comments have answered some of the reason Robert Taylor has always been my favorite actor. I have been asked so many times why? and I have always answered that I believed that behind the role he was playing was a man with the qualities so aptly described in the article.
    Su, as always you and I appear to favor the same films except for the Last Hunt. His acting ability made the role too difficult for me to view more than once and how do you see episodes of The Detectives? Nice to talk to both of you at the same time, have been a bit out of things havibg been away and coming home to a myriad of problems.
    Thanks again Judith for your blogs.

    • giraffe44 says:

      So nice to hear from you again, June. I’m sorry about your computer problems. They can be so frustrating–we just changed internet providers and have had a lot of problems. I love Mr T’s work in “Last Hunt,” but, like you, haven’t watched it often because of the animals being shot. I bought a set of Detectives DVDs. They aren’t good quality for the most part but better than nothing. You can get them from ioffer. Su also sent me some in German. The quality is fabulous and I’ve done some nice frame grabs from them. Su uploaded them and I downloaded them, no cost, just time. You could ask her as she’s very generous. After a while I can even understand some of the German–and I haven’t studied it since college!

      I love the first few paragraphs of the Films in Review article. The rest is ok but the beginning is so good.

  4. SusanaG says:

    Hi Judith,
    Great outline of RT’s career & life, and full of his own quotes which makes the reading even more interesting. I beg to differ, however, with the author’s statement about RT’s pictures during the Schary age of MGM. I think, and I seem to remember we’ve discussed this before (and I see Dianne & June agree with me, too) many of his most mature movies come from this particular time, from Devil’s Doorway and Quo Vadis to Westward the Women and Above and Beyond, and to Ivanhoe, Rogue Cop, and The Last Hunt. I don’t even feel his post-Schary movies ever deteriorated, and take for example, Saddle the Wind, The Law and Jake Wade, and Party Girl. Quite the opposite—those were all fascinating movies that took the best out of him as an actor.

    Cool photos, too. That one of the MGM stars is brand new to me. I bet Carlos Thompson, beside Bob, may well be thinking: “If they could see me now…” While he was a top-billing star in Argentina during the early 50s, I’m sure he never, not even in his wildest dreams, had imagined he would appear in a photo like this, along “la crème de la crème” of Hollywood at the time. I was never enthralled by his acting skills displayed in his Argentine movies, but the man DID HAVE on-screen presence… and the (female) audiences had a great time watching him. Hey Judith, there are many Thompson’s Argentine movies on YouTube. Perhaps you’d like to take a look. If you were able to understand some German from the Detectives DVDs (I wasn’t), this may be your chance to polish up your Spanish now. 😉

  5. giraffe44 says:

    I didn’t realize that’s Carlos Thompson next to RT. I loved him in “Valley of the Kings.” In fact, I think Eleanor Parker had quite a choice to make. I’ll check him out on You Tube despite not studying Spanish since high school (Spanish honor society). Also, I think there’s a tendency to run down the late movies which is unfair. The whole film world had changed so it wasn’t like the glory days of the thirties, but there are some good, solid pictures there, as you note. One of the great things about Mr. Taylor is how good he was for how long and in so many situations. I even like the Hangman–I thought he found a wonderful blend of seriousness and humor. Good to hear from you.

  6. giraffe44 says:

    Another thought. Dore Schary got rid of a good many established stars yet he kept Mr. T and gave him good parts. They look comfortable with each other on the set of “All the Brothers Were Valiant.”

  7. More than any other actor, Robert Taylor set the standard for the all-American matinee idol
    that we still see in television and films today.
    Gable was the tough, macho man, Flynn was the agile adventurer, but Taylor was the good -looking boy next door.

    Taylor came to motion pictures just as sound was reaching a technical pinnacle. His deep,
    sonorous middle-American voice was ideal for the medium, and many studios of the era considered Taylor the best looking man in movies.

    His acting is greatly underrated. Your assessment of of his performance in JOHNNY EAGER is not shared by most critics.

    He was at his best in CAMILLE, THREE COMRADES, WATERLOO BRIDGE, BATAAN, JOHNNY EAGER, QUO VADIS, IVANHOE, KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE, ABOVE AND BEYOND, THE LAST HUNT, THE POWER AND THE PRIZE, ROGUE COP, PARTY GIRL and as the repressed American Indian in THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY.

    Yes, he was a very conservative Republican and his partisan testimony before the HUAC committee was somewhat questionable. But it represented his true beliefs.

    Most people who knew him liked him immensely.

    And Robert Taylor’s contribition to motion pictures is immeasurable. His presence added many enjoyable moments to films,
    and that includes the people who grew up seeing most of them on tv as kids, such,as myself.

    .

  8. Thank you for this comment. I agree that Mr. Taylor was the boy next door before World War II but I think he became something much more complex later. I love his performance in “High Wall” as the injured veteran and his work in “Quo Vadis” and the others you mention from the fifties. The boy next boy became the medieval or Roman hero, the tough cop, the crooked lawyer and the doomed American Indian. His work still gives me pleasure and I am always struck by his incredible versatility. I, like you, grew with his work on TV and discovered him through “The Detectives.” I can’t tell you how many school nights I stayed up late with the little black and white TV in my bedroom watching Robert Taylor. Again, thanks so much for writing.

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