Robert Young (actor)

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Robert Young
Robert Young in Journey for Margaret trailer cropped.jpg
BornRobert George Young
(1907-02-22)February 22, 1907
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJuly 21, 1998(1998-07-21) (aged 91)
Westlake Village, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Respiratory failure
Resting place
Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Years active1931–1988
Spouse(s)Betty Henderson (1933–1994; her death; (1910-1994) 4 children)
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For other people named Robert Young, see Robert Young (disambiguation).
Robert Young
Robert Young in Journey for Margaret trailer cropped.jpg
BornRobert George Young
(1907-02-22)February 22, 1907
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJuly 21, 1998(1998-07-21) (aged 91)
Westlake Village, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Respiratory failure
Resting place
Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Years active1931–1988
Spouse(s)Betty Henderson (1933–1994; her death; (1910-1994) 4 children)

Robert George Young (February 22, 1907–July 21, 1998) was an American television, film, and radio actor, best known for his leading roles as Jim Anderson, the father character in Father Knows Best (NBC and then CBS), and the physician Marcus Welby in Marcus Welby, M.D. (ABC).

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago, Young was the son of an Irish immigrant father, Thomas E. Young, and an American mother, Margaret Fife. When Young was a child, the family moved to different locations within the U.S.: Seattle, followed by Los Angeles, where Young became a student at Abraham Lincoln High School. After graduation, he studied and performed at the Pasadena Playhouse while working at odd jobs and appearing in bit parts in silent films. While touring with a stock company producing The Ship, Young was discovered by a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer talent scout with whom he subsequently signed a contract. Young made his sound film debut for MGM in the 1931 Charlie Chan film, Black Camel.[1]

Film career[edit]

Young appeared in over 100 films between 1931 and 1952. After appearing on stage, Young was signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and, in spite of having a “tier B” status, he co-starred with some of the studio’s most illustrious actresses, such as Katharine Hepburn, Margaret Sullavan, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Helen Hayes, Luise Rainer, Hedy Lamarr, and Helen Twelvetrees. Yet, most of his assignments consisted of B movies, also known as “programmers,” which required two to three weeks of shooting (considered very brief shooting periods at the time). Actors who were relegated to such a hectic schedule appeared, as Young did, in some six to eight movies per year.

As an MGM contract player, Young was resigned to the fate of most of his colleagues—to accept any film assigned to him or risk being placed on suspension—and many actors on suspension were prohibited from earning a salary from any endeavor at all (even those unrelated to the film industry). In 1936, MGM summarily loaned Young to Gaumont British for two films; the first was directed by Alfred Hitchcock with the other co-starring Jessie Matthews. While there he surmised that his employers intended to terminate his contract, but he was mistaken.

He unexpectedly received one of his most rewarding roles late in his MGM career, in H.M. Pulham, Esq., featuring one of Hedy Lamarr’s most effective performances. He once remarked that he was assigned only those roles which Robert Montgomery and other A-list actors had rejected.

After his contract at MGM ended, Young starred in light comedies as well as in trenchant dramas for studios such as 20th Century Fox, United Artists, and RKO Radio Pictures. From 1943, Young assayed more challenging roles in films like Claudia, The Enchanted Cottage, They Won't Believe Me, The Second Woman, and Crossfire. His portrayal of unsympathetic characters in several of these later films—which was seldom the case in his MGM pictures—was applauded by numerous reviewers.

Not surprisingly, and despite a propitious beginning as a freelance actor without the nurturing of a major studio, Young’s career began an incremental and imperceptible decline. Still starring as a leading man in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but only in mediocre films, he subsequently disappeared from the silver screen, only to reappear several years later on a much smaller one.

Television career[edit]

Today, Young is most remembered as the affable insurance salesman in Father Knows Best (1949–54 on radio, 1954–60 on television), for which he and his co-star, Jane Wyatt, won several Emmy Awards.[2] Elinor Donahue (“Betty”), Billy Gray (“Bud”), and Lauren Chapin (“Kathy”) played the Anderson children in the television version.

Young then created, produced, and starred with Ford Rainey and Constance Moore in the nostalgic CBS comedy series Window on Main Street (1961–62), which lasted barely six months.

Young’s final television series, Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969–76), co-starring a young James Brolin, earned Young an Emmy for best leading actor in a drama series.

Until the late 1980s he also made numerous television commercials in which he persuaded edgy people to drink Sanka coffee.

Personal life and death[edit]

Young was married to Betty Henderson from 1933 until her death in 1994. They had four daughters, Carol Proffitt, Barbara Beebe, Kathy Young, and Betty Lou Gleason. They also had six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Despite his trademark portrayal of happy, well-adjusted characters, Young’s bitterness toward Hollywood casting practices never diminished, and he suffered from depression and alcoholism, culminating in a suicide attempt in January 1991.[3] Later, he spoke candidly about his personal problems in an effort to encourage others to seek help. The Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health, in Rock Island, Illinois, is named after Young in honor of his work toward passage of the 708 Illinois Tax Referendum, which established a property tax to support mental health programs in his home state.[4]

Young died of respiratory failure at his Westlake Village, California, home on July 21, 1998, and was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.[5]

He has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; the stars are in the categories of film (located at 6933 Hollywood Blvd.), television (6358 Hollywood Blvd.), and radio (1660 Vine Street).[6]

Selected filmography[edit]

1931Black Camel, TheThe Black CamelJimmyFilm debut; a Warner Oland / Charlie Chan film
1931Sin of Madelon Claudet, TheThe Sin of Madelon ClaudetDr. Lawrence ClaudetAlternative title: The Lullaby
1931Guilty Generation, TheThe Guilty GenerationMarco Ricca—aka John Smith
1932The Wet ParadeKip Tarleton
1932The Kid from SpainRicardo
1932New Morals for OldRalph Thomas
1932Strange InterludeGordon Evans as a Young ManAlternative title: Strange Interval
1933Men Must FightLt. Geoffrey Aiken
1933Today We LiveClaude
1933Hell BelowLieutenant (JG) Ed "Brick" Walters
1933Tugboat AnnieAlexander “Alec” Brennan
1933The Right to RomanceBobby Preble
1934Death on the DiamondLarry Kelly
1934House of Rothschild, TheThe House of RothschildCaptain Fitzroy
1934SpitfireJohn Stafford
1934Lazy RiverWilliam “Bill” Drexel
1935West Point of the AirLittle Mike Stone
1935Red SaluteJeff
1935The Bride Comes HomeJack Bristow
1936It’s Love AgainPeter Carlton
1936Secret AgentRobert Marvin
1936StowawayTommy Randall
1936The Bride Walks OutHugh McKenzie
1937I Met Him in ParisGene Anders
1937Emperor's Candlesticks, TheThe Emperor's CandlesticksGrand Duke Peter
1937Bride Wore Red, TheThe Bride Wore RedRudi Pal
1937Navy Blue and GoldRoger “Rog” Ash
1937Dangerous NumberHenry 'Hank' Medhill
1938Paradise for ThreeFritz HagedornAlternative title: Romance for Three
1938Three ComradesGottfried Lenz
1938Toy Wife, TheThe Toy WifeAndre Vallaire
1938Shining Hour, TheThe Shining HourDavid Linden
1938JosettePierre Brassard
1938Rich Man, Poor GirlBill Harrison
1939HonoluluBrooks Mason/George Smith
1939MaisieCharles "Slim" Martin
1939Miracles for SaleMichael "Mike" Morgan
1940Northwest PassageLangdon Towne
1940FlorianAnton Erban
1940Mortal Storm, TheThe Mortal StormFritz Marberg
1941Western UnionDouglas “Doug” Lamont
1941Lady Be GoodEdward “Eddie” Crane
1941Journey for MargaretJohn Davis
1941H. M. Pulham, Esq.Harry Moulton Pulham
1941Married BachelorRandolph Haven
1942CairoHomer Smith, aka Juniper Jones
1943Slightly DangerousBob Stuart
1943Sweet Rosie O'GradySam MacKeever
1944Canterville Ghost, TheThe Canterville GhostCuffy Williams
1945Enchanted Cottage, TheThe Enchanted CottageOliver Bradford
1945Those Endearing Young CharmsHank Travers
1946Lady LuckLarry Scott
1947They Won’t Believe MeLarry Ballentine
1948Sitting PrettyHarry King
1948RelentlessNick Buckley
1949That Forsyte WomanPhilip BosinneyAlternative title: The Forsyte Saga
1949And Baby Makes ThreeVernon “Vern” Walsh
1949Bride for SaleSteve Adams
1950The Second WomanJeff Cohalan
1951Goodbye, My FancyDoctor James Merrill
1954Secret of the IncasStanley Moorehead
1954The Ford Television TheatreTom Warren1 episode
1954–60Father Knows BestJim Anderson203 episodes
1955Climax!Lieutenant Commander Knowles1 episode
1961Window on Main StreetCameron Garrett Brooks17 episodes
1965Dr. KildareDr. Gilbert Winfield1 episode
1965Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre: The AdmiralAdmiral Matt Callahan1 episode
1968Name of the Game, TheThe Name of the GameHerman Allison1 episode
1969–76Marcus Welby, M.D.Dr. Marcus Welby170 episodes
1977Father Knows Best: Home for ChristmasJim AndersonTelevision film
1978Little WomenGrandpa James LawrenceTelevision film
1984Return of Marcus Welby, M.D., TheThe Return of Marcus Welby, M.D.Dr. Marcus WelbyTelevision film
1987American MastersEdward “Eddie” Crane1 episode
1987Mercy or Murder?Roswell GilbertTelevision film
1987Conspiracy of Love, AA Conspiracy of LoveJoe WoldarskiTelevision film
1988Marcus Welby, M.D.: A Holiday AffairDr. Marcus WelbyTelevision film

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAwardResultCategoryFilm or series
1979BAFTA AwardWonBest Specialised FilmTwenty Times More Likely
1956Emmy AwardNominatedBest Actor - Continuing PerformanceFather Knows Best
1957WonBest Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic SeriesFather Knows Best
1958WonBest Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy SeriesFather Knows Best
1959NominatedBest Actor in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Comedy SeriesFather Knows Best
1970WonOutstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic SeriesMarcus Welby, M.D.
1971NominatedOutstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in DramaVanished
Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic SeriesMarcus Welby, M.D.
1972NominatedOutstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic SeriesMarcus Welby, M.D.
1970Golden Globe AwardNominatedBest TV Actor - DramaMarcus Welby, M.D.
1971Best TV Actor - DramaMarcus Welby, M.D.
1972WonBest TV Actor - DramaMarcus Welby, M.D.
1973NominatedBest TV Actor - DramaMarcus Welby, M.D.
1974Best TV Actor - DramaMarcus Welby, M.D.
2003TV Land AwardNominatedClassic TV Doctor of the YearMarcus Welby, M.D.


  1. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T.; Markoe, Arnie; Markoe, Karen (1998). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. Simon and Schuster. p. 645. ISBN 0-684-80663-0. 
  2. ^ Newcomb, Horace (2004). Encyclopedia of Television (2 ed.). CRC Press. p. 856. ISBN 1-57958-411-X. 
  3. ^ "Robert Young, 83, Attempted Suicide by carbon monoxide with his automobile. Chicago DJ Garry Meier quipped "kitten, get me my slippers and tail pipe" in a poor attempt at humor. Authorities Reveal". 
  4. ^ "About the Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health". Trinity Regional Health System. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  5. ^ "'Marcus Welby' actor Robert Young dies". 1998-06-22. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  6. ^ Robert Young. Los Angeles Times Starwalk Project Retrieved 2010-09-04.


External links[edit]