In Praise of a Handsome Man (part 1)

narcissus-daffodil-robert-gebbieIt’s Spring and in the northern hemisphere life returns. We wait anxiously for the first snowdrop, the first crocus, daffodil, tulip. It is a time for life, love and beauty. So, in the spirit of  love and beauty, I present a totally frivolous blog post – In Praise of a Handsome Man (Part 1).

Robert Taylor was not interested in his looks. Lloyd Nolan, with whom he worked in The Last Hunt, said that Mr. Taylor couldn’t accept that his looks were a professional asset. Mr. Taylor wasn’t a model, he was an actor who got better and better over time. He regretted an early publicity campaign that temporarily stereotyped him as a “pretty boy.” As I have established elsewhere in this blog Mr. Taylor was a fine actor, a good father, a good friend and an American patriot. But let’s be honest–he was also a gorgeous man. MGM Knew this and exploited it by placing him frequently in situations designed to make the female viewer’s heart beat faster.

To make the most of his physique, MGM had Robert Taylor take a great many onscreen baths and showers. In reviewing Personal Property (1937), Sheilah Graham called him “deeply hygienic.” He also sometimes stripped to the waist in the heat. Mr. Taylor also went swimming in several films.  Robert Taylor was a very modest man and this kind of exposure must have been uncomfortable but there is no doubt that these scenes added spice to the films.

Some examples:

Above and Beyond, 1952
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His Brother’s Wife, 1936.  Photos 1. 2,3, 4 are promos..
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Personal Property, 1937
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A Yank at Oxford, 1938
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The Crowd Roars, 1938
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Three Comrades, 1938
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The Bribe, 1949 On the set; modestly robed in the actual scene. Mr. Taylor and Ms. Gardner have supposedly just been for a swim.
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Ambush, 1950
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Quo Vadis, 1951 (Not all of this appeared in the film.)
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Note Norman Wooland cracking up in the last photo.

Many Rivers To Cross, 1955
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Quentin Durward, 1955
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House of the Seven Hawks, 1959
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The Glass Sphinx, 1967  Showering next to Anita Ekberg.
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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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