Robert Taylor (actor)

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Robert Taylor

from the trailer for
Waterloo Bridge (1940)
BornSpangler Arlington Brugh
(1911-08-05)August 5, 1911
Filley, Nebraska, U.S.
DiedJune 8, 1969(1969-06-08) (aged 57)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of deathLung cancer
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Years active1934–68

Barbara Stanwyck (m. 1939–1951) «start: (1939)–end+1: (1952)»"Marriage: Barbara Stanwyck to Robert Taylor (actor)" Location: (linkback://

Ursula Thiess (m. 1954–1969) «start: (1954)–end+1: (1970)»"Marriage: Ursula Thiess to Robert Taylor (actor)" Location: (linkback://
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Robert Taylor

from the trailer for
Waterloo Bridge (1940)
BornSpangler Arlington Brugh
(1911-08-05)August 5, 1911
Filley, Nebraska, U.S.
DiedJune 8, 1969(1969-06-08) (aged 57)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of deathLung cancer
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Years active1934–68

Barbara Stanwyck (m. 1939–1951) «start: (1939)–end+1: (1952)»"Marriage: Barbara Stanwyck to Robert Taylor (actor)" Location: (linkback://

Ursula Thiess (m. 1954–1969) «start: (1954)–end+1: (1970)»"Marriage: Ursula Thiess to Robert Taylor (actor)" Location: (linkback://

Robert Taylor (August 5, 1911 – June 8, 1969) was an American film and television actor who was one of the most popular celebrities of his time.


Early life

Born Spangler Arlington Brugh in Filley, Nebraska, he was the son of Ruth Adaline (née Stanhope) and Spangler Andrew Brugh, who was a farmer turned doctor.[1][2] During his early life, the family moved several times, living in Muskogee, Oklahoma; Kirksville, Missouri; and Fremont, Nebraska. By September 1917, the Brughs had moved to Beatrice, Nebraska, where they remained for 16 years.[3]

As a teenager, he was a track star and played the cello in his high school orchestra. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska to study music.[4][5]

While at Doane, he took cello lessons from Professor E. Gray, a man whom he admired and idolized. After Professor Gray announced he was accepting a new position at Pomona College in Los Angeles, Brugh moved to California and enrolled at Pomona.[6] He joined the campus theatre group and was eventually spotted by an MGM talent scout in 1932 after production of Journey's End.[7]


After Brugh signed a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $35 a week, his name was changed to Robert Taylor.[8] He made his film debut in the 1934 comedy, Handy Andy, opposite Will Rogers (on a loan-out to 20th Century Fox). After appearing in a few small roles, he appeared in one of his first leading roles in Magnificent Obsession, with Irene Dunne. This was followed by Camille, opposite Greta Garbo.[7]

Taylor and Jean Harlow, 1937

Throughout the late 1930s, Taylor appeared in films of varying genres including the musicals Broadway Melody of 1936 and Broadway Melody of 1938, and the British comedy A Yank at Oxford with Vivien Leigh. In 1940, he reteamed with Leigh in Mervyn LeRoy's drama Waterloo Bridge. Taylor would say that Waterloo Bridge was his favorite film.

After being given the nickname "The Man with the Perfect Profile", Taylor began breaking away from his perfect leading man image and began appearing in darker roles beginning in 1941. That year he portrayed Billy Bonney (better known as Billy the Kid) in Billy the Kid. The next year, he played the title role in the film noir Johnny Eager opposite Lana Turner. After playing a tough sergeant in Bataan in 1943, Taylor contributed to the war effort by becoming a flying instructor in U.S. Naval Air Corps. During this time, he also starred in instructional films and narrated the 1944 documentary The Fighting Lady.[5] Robert Taylor first appeared with actress Elizabeth Taylor in the 1949 movie Conspirator. Thirty-eight year old Taylor was somewhat uncomfortable with Elizabeth Taylor being 16 years old and his love interest. The age difference was mentioned in the film, when they made Elizabeth state her age as 18 years old to Robert's age of 31 years of age.[9]

In 1950, Taylor landed the role of General Marcus Vinicius in Quo Vadis, opposite Deborah Kerr. The film was a hit, grossing US$11 million.[7] The following year, he starred opposite Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of Walter Scott's classic Ivanhoe, followed by 1953's Knights of the Round Table and The Adventures of Quentin Durward, all filmed in England.

By the mid-1950s, Taylor's career began to wane. He starred in a comedy western in 1955 co-starring Eleanor Parker called Many Rivers To Cross. In 1958 he shared lead with Richard Widmark in the edgy John Sturges western, The Law and Jake Wade. In 1958, he formed his own production company, Robert Taylor Productions, and the following year, he starred in the ABC hit television series The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor (1959–1962).[4] Following the end of the series in 1962, Taylor continued to appear in films and television including A House Is Not a Home and two episodes of Hondo. In 1964, he co-starred with his former wife, Barbara Stanwyck, in William Castle's psychological horror film The Night Walker. In 1965, after filming Johnny Tiger in Florida, Taylor took over the role of narrator in the television series Death Valley Days, when Ronald Reagan left to pursue a career in politics.[10] Taylor would remain with the series until 1969 when he became too ill to continue working.

Personal life


In February 1944, Taylor helped found the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.[11] In 1947, he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee regarding fellow actors whom he believed to be Communists.[12]


After Taylor appeared with actress Barbara Stanwyck in the 1937 film This Is My Affair, the two were married in 1939. The marriage had its ups and downs and eventually, in 1951, ended in divorce.[7] In 1954, Taylor married German-born actress Ursula Thiess, with whom he had two children. Terry was born in 1955 and Tessa in 1959.[13]


In 1951, Taylor starred in the film Above and Beyond, a biopic of Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets. The two men met and found that they had much in common. Both had considered studying medicine, and were avid skeet-shooters and fliers. Taylor learned to fly in the mid-1930s, and served as a United States Navy flying instructor during World War II. His private aircraft was a Twin Beech called "Missy" (wife Stanwyck's nickname) which he used on hunting and fishing trips. She complained that he spent all his time polishing his guns and aircraft, but when airborne could "do anything a bird could do, except sit on a barbed wire fence".[14][page needed]


Taylor's large home and ranch, located at 3099 Mandeville Canyon Road in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, became a notable piece of property in the Los Angeles area due to its acreage, location and home size. When it went up for sale in 2010, it was listed at $56,000,000, now $28,000,000.[15]


On June 8, 1969, Taylor died of lung cancer at the age of 57 and was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Glendale, California.[16]

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Robert Taylor has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street.

Selected filmography

1935West Point of the Air"Jasky" Jaskarelli
1935Murder in the FleetLt. Randolph
1935Broadway Melody of 1936Robert Gordon
1935Magnificent ObsessionDr. Robert Merrick
1936Small Town GirlDr. Robert "Bob" DakinAlternative title: One Horse Town
1936Private NumberRichard Winfield
1936His Brother's WifeChris Claybourne
1936Gorgeous Hussy, TheThe Gorgeous Hussy"Bow" Timberlake
1936CamilleArmand Duval
1937Personal PropertyRaymond Dabney aka FergusonAlternative title: The Man in Possession
1937This Is My AffairLt. Richard L. Perry
1937Broadway Melody of 1938Stephan "Steve" Raleigh
1938Yank at Oxford, AA Yank at OxfordLee Sheridan
1938Three ComradesErich Lohkamp
1938Crowd Roars, TheThe Crowd RoarsTommy "Killer" McCoy
1939Stand Up and FightBlake Cantrell
1939Remember?Jeffrey "Jeff" Holland
1940Waterloo BridgeRoy Cronin
1940EscapeMark PreysingAlternative title: When the Door Opened
1940Flight CommandEnsign Alan Drake
1941Billy the KidBilly Bonney
1941When Ladies MeetJimmy Lee
1942Johnny EagerJohn "Johnny" Eager
1942Her Cardboard LoverTerry Trindale
1942Stand by for ActionLieutenant Gregg MastermanAlternative title: Cargo of Innocents
1943Youngest Profession, TheThe Youngest ProfessionCameo
1943BataanSergeant Bill Dane
1944Song of RussiaJohn Meredith
1946UndercurrentAlan Garroway
1947High WallSteven Kenet
1949Bribe, TheThe BribeRigby
1949ConspiratorMajor Michael Curragh
1950AmbushWard Kinsman
1950Devil's DoorwayLance Poole
1951Quo VadisMarcus Vinicius
1951Westward the WomenBuck Wyatt
1952IvanhoeSir Wilfred of Ivanhoe
1952Above and BeyondLieutenant Colonel Paul W. Tibbets
1953Ride, Vaquero!Rio
1953All the Brothers Were ValiantJoel Shore
1953Knights of the Round TableLancelot
1954Valley of the KingsMark Brandon
1954Rogue CopDet. Sgt. Christopher Kelvaney
1955Many Rivers to CrossBushrod Gentry
1955Adventures of Quentin Durward, TheThe Adventures of Quentin DurwardQuentin Durward
1956Last Hunt, TheThe Last HuntCharlie Gilson
1956D-Day the Sixth of JuneCaptain Brad Parker
1956The Power and the PrizeCliff Barton
1958Law and Jake Wade, TheThe Law and Jake WadeJake Wade
1958Saddle the WindSteve Sinclair
1958Party GirlThomas "Tommy" Farrell
1959House of the Seven Hawks, TheThe House of the Seven HawksNordley
1959–1962Detectives Starring Robert Taylor, TheThe Detectives Starring Robert TaylorCaptain Matt HolbrookTV series, 97 episodes
1960Killers of KilimanjaroRobert Adamson
1963Miracle of the White StallionsColonel PodhajskyAlternative title: The Flight of the White Stallions
1963Cattle KingSam Brassfield
1964House Is Not a Home, AA House Is Not a HomeFrank Costigan
1966–1969Death Valley DaysHostTV series, 77 episodes
1967Return of the GunfighterBen Wyatt
1967HondoGallagherTV series, 2 episodes
1968Where Angels Go, Trouble FollowsMr. Farriday – The 'In' Group


  1. ^ "Robert Taylor." Films of the Golden Age. Retrieved: November 18, 2011.
  2. ^ Wayne 2005, p. 165.
  3. ^ Kral, E. A. "Robert Taylor of Beatrice: The Nebraska Roots of a Hollywood Star". Nebraska History Quarterly, Vol. 75, 1994, pp. 280–290. Retrieved: November 18, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Robert Taylor." Retrieved: November 18, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Erikson, Hal. "Robert Taylor Biography." Retrieved: November 18, 2011.
  6. ^ Wayne 2005, p. 166.
  7. ^ a b c d Griffith, Benjamin. "Robert Taylor." St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, 2002. Retrieved: November 18, 2011.
  8. ^ Wayne 2005, p. 167.
  9. ^ TCM movie host Robert Clooney
  10. ^ Erikson, Hal. "Robert Taylor Biography." Retrieved: November 18, 2011.
  11. ^ Ross 2002, p. 197.
  12. ^ Imwold et al. 2005, pp. 188–189.
  13. ^ Wayne 2005, pp. 184–186.
  14. ^ Tibbets 1985
  15. ^ "The Robert Taylor Ranch - 3099 Mandeville Canyon Rd." Los Angeles REALTOR®. Retrieved: March 5, 2012.
  16. ^ Wayne 2005, p. 192.
  • Imwold, Denise, Andrew Brettell, Heather von Rohr and Warren Hsu Leonard.Cut!: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other Tragedies. Hauppauge New York: Barrons Educational Series, 2005. ISBN 0-7641-5858-9.
  • Quirk, Lawrence J. The Films of Robert Taylor. New York: Lyle Stuart, 1979. ISBN 978-0-8065-0495-7.
  • Ross, Steven J. Movies and American Society (Blackwell Readers in American Social and Cultural History). Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002. ISBN 0-631-21960-9.
  • Tibbets, Paul W. Mission: Hiroshima. New York: Stein & Day, 1985. ISBN 0-8128-8169-9
  • Wayne, Jane Ellen. The Leading Men of MGM. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7867-1475-9.
  • Wayne, Jane Ellen. The Life of Robert Taylor. New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1973. ISBN 978-0-446-76103-1.

External links