Osborne was a former longtime columnist for the Hollywood Reporter and the author of the official history of the Academy Awards. The genial, silver-haired and dapper Osborne was a movie connoisseur who displayed his wide knowledge of films on TCM since the 24-hour commercial-free cable network’s launch in 1994. (LA Times, 3/6/17)
2001: Robert Taylor was almost impossible not to like. Give him a chance and one knew, instinctively, under that golden exterior he was a good egg, a rock-solid fellow, the kind of gent you’d be lucky to have for a brother, a pal or a fishing partner. Around MGM, he was always known as a “regular Joe,” the down-to-earth star who never put on airs or pretenses. A good illustration is what happened one day in the MGM commissary when he spotted Greta Garbo visiting for lunch, years after she and Taylor had costarred in the classic Camille. Friends urged him to go over and say hello but he didn’t. “She was a woman whose privacy you always respected,” he said. “Besides, I thought, why would she remember me?” Always a company player, Taylor never complained about the roles he was assigned, he never went on suspension, and didn’t make waves. Conflict was not his style. He also had he distinction of remaining under contract to a single studio (MGM) longer than all other above-the-title stars in Hollywood (24 years, from 1934-58).
2010: Through the years he also grew enormously as an actor; compare Taylor in 1934’s A Wicked Woman, showing on April 6, with his Party Girl made 24 years later and screening April 28. However, his career didn’t flow without some glitches en route. In the late 1930s, for instance, female fans panted so enthusiastically over Taylor’s good looks and persona, it irritated their boyfriends and husbands to the extent there was a huge male backlash against him at the box office, something MGM managed to counteract by temporarily changing Taylor’s on-screen image from that of a romantic ladies man to a rough and tough prizefighter (1938’s The Crowd Roars), a muscled athlete (A Yank at Oxford, also 1938) and a two-fisted Southerner (1939’s Stand Up and Fight).
My own favorite Taylor movies: 1942’s Johnny Eager, in which he was very good as a very bad boy; 1940’s Waterloo Bridge, which he said was his own favorite Robert Taylor film; 1952’s Ivanhoe, which helped seal his reputation as the 50s king of the movie epics; 1951’s Westward the Women, one of the great under-appreciated Westerns. You can see them all and many others this month on TCM, not only during prime-time hours buy in 24 hour batches every Tuesday beginning April 6 at 6:30 p.m., ET. One RT film to particularly check out that day is the TCM premiere of Taylor ‘s 1935 version of Magnificent Obsession with Irene Dunne. It’s the film that first made him a bona fide star. It won’t take you more than a look to understand why.