He Said, She Said Part One: Stanwyck on Taylor

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Ms. Stanwyck and Mr. Taylor on their wedding day, May 14, 1939.

A movie magazine published both articles around 1947.  They are as told to Gladys Hall.  How much is real, I don’t know.  But they are fun.

Barbara Stanwyck on Robert Taylor

Oh brother, can you sleep!  Not criticism, this.  Envy, really.  You can go to sleep at nine or ten o’clock seven nights a week–and often do.  True, you get up at six or seven every morning but then you have this little thing of an after-breakfast nap–or you would have it if I didn’t keep talking to keep you awake.  Then, in the afternoon, you just “rest your eyes” for an hour or two…

You rest your eyes, Junior.  You don’t rest your ears.  You hear everything that’s going on in the house–especially in the kitchen.

You can really cook, bub.  Meat loaf’s your specialty–with that meat sauce it takes you all day to make.  You’re fussy about food.  It has to be just so. And I’m so happy because, although I like food, I hate cooking and never could cope with anything that required more know-how than opening a can…

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This photo was probably taken at about the time this article was published.

I’ve always thought Waterloo Bridge was the best picture you ever made.  I liked you in Johnny Eager and you  did a standout job in Undercurrent.  But Waterloo Bridge is my favorite.

You’re a magnet for nicknames, Robert.  “Junior” I call you.  Or in loving memory of your Alma Mater,  “Pomona.”  Or coming from Nebraska,  as you do, “Farmer Joe.” Or, but only when I’m feeling most affectionate, “Jerk.”

….You’ve never really broken from your Nebraska background and antecedents, by the way.  You will have a strong sense of “belonging” back there.  You like to go back and, when you can, you do go back, talk to your friends, the farmers, have a coke at the old corner drugstore, renew all the old acquaintances which to you, being you, “ne-er forgot shall be”…

You have a few nicknames for me, too.  “Queen” is one of them.  “Brooklyn” (where I come from) is another.  And there are others I, being a lady, can’t mention!  I don’t think they’re as funny as you think they are–that is, I never get hysterical over them but what is funny is  that I always answer to them…

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Taken during World War II.

You really don’t have any faults Junior–or so few it would be easier to find a needle in a hay stack than to find a fault in you–and I’m not one for games.  You won’t answer telephones.  I’ll say that against you.  You always say to me, “You take it…” and I always do.  Or if we want to get out of a date, I’m the getter-outer-of.  “You can say ‘no’ better than I can,” you tell me.  Or, pulling no punches, “You can lie better than I can.” And that I can.  Force even the feeblest fib to your lips and your stammer…

You are a lot of fun.  The night I first met you, at a dinner party at the old Trocadero in Hollywood, my first thought about you was, he’s a lot of fun…and I realize daily how right I was!

You were carrying the torch, at the time, for Irene Hervey who later married, and is still happily married to Allan Jones and unless my memory plays me tricks, you spent the evening (as my dinner partner) watching that door for Irene Hervey to come in with Allan Jones…so maybe it was only to me, just coming out of an emotional Black Hole of Calcutta and my first night out in five months, that you seemed hilarious…

…A couple of days later, we met again.  You told me all about Irene.  There were complications. Among them, your studio didn’t want you to get married.  I told you to go ahead and get married and the devil with it…I was sympathetic.  I was an ear and a shoulder.  I often wonder why you fell in love with me…maybe that’s why…

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From “His Brother’s Wife, 1936.

You were a roller-coaster man during our courting days, remember?  I do. Never will I forget, in fact, our second or third date.  “Let’s drive down to Venice,” you said.  I said, “Fine.”  I thought we’d just roll down to Santa Monica, walk on the Venice Pier, take in the sea-breeze and the sea-view, and maybe the moon.  But no…”Let’s go on the roller coaster,” you said.  Trying to make time with you, I said, “LOVE to.”  And HATED it.  Hated every minute of it.  Every horrible up and down.  My stomach, I guess, is still up there…

…And now that you have your twin-engine Beechcraft plane, likely to stay up there. Scared to death of it, as I am, I do fly with you. And take what comfort I can out of the fact that you never try to show off, or make record time, or do anything stunty. A less exhibitionistic man than you, Pomona, never lived and breathed…that goes for all departments.

The least egotistical of men, as well as the least exhibitionistic (or isn’t there any difference?) the personal pronoun “I” is not in vocabulary.  Far from being the actor who always talks about himself, you are the actor who always talks other actors.  “I still think Gable’s the biggest thing in pictures,” you’ll say. Or, “I can’t imagine myself, even eight or ten years from now, doing the things Tracy does…

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Mr. Taylor with his plane “Missy,” named after Ms. Stanwyck.

You have a wonderful disposition.  From morning to night you have a wonderful disposition.  I can’t say you leap out of bed shouting, “Good morning, World!”  (If you did, they’d be your Last Words) but I have never, never once in the eight years we’ve been married, known you to be grumpy…

…You’ve changed quite a bit since we’ve been married.  The War, perhaps.  You’re much mature now…the mind, that is, and the face.  Not the body.  The body hasn’t changed a single pound…You still hang on to the wonderful disposition you were born with but you’re not having as much trouble as you once had, fighting for your rights–fighting for good parts in pictures.  “I can fry pretty easily now,” you say.

You used to love to dance.  You don’t love to dance now.  You say, now, that you think it’s silly.”  When we go dancing “nowadays, we sit and watch the dancing and the expressions on the faces are, I must agree, pretty silly.  I think it was when the rhumba started that you stopped.  You are not the rhumba type, Junior.  The waltz, the romantic dances are for you…

You are neat about yourself, Robert–immaculately so.  Your linen shines.  And your shoes. Your suits look like new.  Your ties just out of Sulka’s.  Neat about yourself, yes, but in your bedroom and bath I would say, NO!  Towels left on the floor.  Bottom part of your pajamas (The bottom part, let ME be the first to tell the world is what you sleep in!) likewise.  Cigarettes scattered like you’d been playing tiddlywinks with them.  Slippers and robes where you drop ’em.

You have a terrific weakness for jewelry.  Especially watches.  Watches for yourself, I

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Shopping for jewelry in Paris, 1947.

mean, not for me.  I don’t wear watches.  I don’t care what time it is, half the time.  Figure I’m not going anywhere.

You’re an anniversary rememberer.  Especially of our wedding anniversary.  On the boat, coming back from England, someone asked me what date we married…and you had to tell him, May 14 –I couldn’t remember.

When we have an evening home, alone, you clean your guns and pop corn.  You LOVE to pop corn.  Bowls of it are made–and eaten.

You are a Fatalist.  You believe when the bell-ringer rings the bell, that’s it.  You are not superstitious–or were not, that is, until I went to work on you.  In planes, during the war, you were ten pounds heavier than you should have been with all the medals, charms and what-nots I hung around your neck.  And you are superstitious about black cats.  Funny thing, every time one crosses your path some really awful thing happens…

You’re fun to travel with.  Exciting I’m not.  As a sightseer, I wash out.  My feet hurt.  But when you stand in front of, say, The Tower of London, “Just imagine,” you say, ” Just imagine 500 men in armor riding up to this thing…” or, in front of some decaying old palace, old Franz Joseph, or some character is, for you, still dancing “The Emperor’s Waltz”…

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From “Conspirator,” 1949. This was one of many pictures Mr. Taylor made in England.

You are conscientious about your work.  You’re upset right now, as well you might be, that you’ve made only picture, MGM’s Undercurrent, since you got out of the service.  You want, badly want, and should have, strong parts in good pictures.  But you don’t worry about your work the way I do.  If something goes wrong with a scene, you don’t go off the beam about it, the way I do  A problem at the studio doesn’t keep you awake all night, as it does me–not you, Junior!  We talk shop all the time at home but I do most of the talking!

We go on picture drunks..pictures run for us at the studio.  Usually, at my studio.

You have many more interests than I have.  You like people, hunting, flying, mechanical things, houses.  Our taste in houses is the same.  And thanks be for that–awful to have a 50/50 housewith you in the modern, me in the Cape Cod…we think alike about the house we are planning to build in Beverly Hills…sort of Colonial, we agree, sort of Cape Cod, with a sort of weather-beaten exterior…

We’re friends, Pomona.  In addition to being hand-holders, we’re friends.  Good friends.  And that’s important.  That’s very important.  That goes along with you, through the years.

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Real love and reel love–from “His Brother’s Wife,” 1936.

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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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13 Responses to He Said, She Said Part One: Stanwyck on Taylor

  1. Martha Cantarini says:

    What fun to read this. Thanks so . . .

  2. David Foe says:

    Having read a lot about Robert Taylor, I think this article seems pretty close to the truth, in a movie-magazine kind of way. Do you know which magazine this appeared in?

  3. Sadly, the copy I have is just the article without any indication of its source. The tone seems right and it is enjoyable. Thanks for writing.

  4. Fulvia says:

    I don’t think that it is true, and if true, I find it in bad taste.

  5. I don’t understand, Fulvia. Why do you find it in bad taste? It’s typical movie magazine stuff.

  6. Fulvia. says:

    Maybe I do not understand well the nuances of Language and maybe I expressed badly. I realized it was a funny story, but it hurt.

  7. I’m sorry it did, Fulvia. Judith

  8. Lisa Alkana says:

    I wish we knew which magazine this appeared in. While I’m sure these are Barbara’s exact words, the sentiments seem right, based on the many years of info I’ve gathered.

  9. I do too. I’ve gone over every page and there is no indication of the magazine’s name. The article rings true to me. Thanks for writing. Judith

  10. slimbrowning says:

    Quite a few of the details from this article are featured almost verbatim in Victoria Wilson’s biography of Stanwyck. Possibly the source could be found in the bibliography? I have the book and may pull it out to see if I can find it.

  11. That would be very helpful. Judith

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