Robert Taylor Promotes “Johnny Tiger” in Florida

The following are two short articles that appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on May 22 and May 25, 1966.  The first is by a man, the second by a woman.  The differences are striking.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Actor Robert Taylor Likes Florida As Movie Location
by Bill Zellmer

Sarasota—Florida is a phenomenal movie location, actor Robert Taylor said in an interview here Friday.  The movie [Johnny Tiger], in which the veteran star co-stars with Geraldine Brooks and new actor Chad Everett, opened yesterday at the Bayshore Cinema. Everett was in Sarasota Tuesday, giving interviews and promoting the movie.


Promotional photo for “Johnny Tiger.”

Taylor, 54, wearing a dark blue-gray suit, dark tie and gray shirt, was guest of honor at a luncheon in the Holiday Inn. He said the Universal company filming the movie never missed a day’s shooting in the eight weeks it was on location in the Sunshine state. He predicted other movies will be shot in Florida, and said he would consider living in this area when and if he ever retires.

Taylor touched on a number of other subjects during the luncheon which was attended by Mayor David Cohen of Sarasota and Mayor Sterling Hall of Bradenton. The actor, who was under contract to MGM for 26 years and was one of its major box office attractions in the late 1930s and 40s, said he has made about two pictures per year for the last 20 years. At present he is under contract to no studio. He said agencies send him scripts and he picks what he hopes will be a good movie. He admitted, with a laugh, that he sometimes makes a mistake.

Taylor, who wears his thick dark hair combed back without a part, has other business interests besides acting. He made a trip to Billings, Mont. On business before beginning the “Tiger” tour and owns property in Bradenton. He flew with Tom Purvis, who now lives in Bradenton, during World II and visits with the Purvis family frequently. Taylor’s wife, Ursula, a former actress, was spending Friday at the Purvis home. Their children, Terrence, 10 and Tessa, 6, were in school in the Los Angeles area.

Taylor has an 113-acre farm within the Los Angeles city limits. He has 20 horses, among other livestock, there and said raising horses is one of his favorite past times. Others are

Geraldine Brooks and Robert Taylor

Geraldine Brooks and Robert Taylor in “Johnny Tiger.”

hunting and fishing. With a smile, he said he tried not to let acting interfere with the latter pursuits and said he had had little fishing luck in the Sarasota area on this trip.

I’ve gotten into the habit of looking at all metal as potential fish hooks,” he said as Cohen and Hall gave him keys to the cities of Sarasota and Bradenton. He assured he mayors the keys would not be used for that purpose, however. Taylor said his favorite pictures are westerns. He goes on location in Arizona for a western soon after he returns to California.

He said his favorite picture of the 75 or 80 he has made is Waterloo Bridge which was filmed in 1940 with Vivien Leigh as co-star. It was her first picture after “Gone With the Wind.” However Taylor said he has made about 20 pictures which he really likes, among them “Johnny Eager,” one of his notable gangster movies. In those years Taylor wore a mustache for most of his roles. He said there was no special reason for not wearing the mustache anymore.


Chad Everett, Brenda Scott and Robert Taylor in “Johnny Tiger.”

On actors and politics, he said actors have as much right to enter the political field as anyone else. Actor George Murphy is doing a good job as senator from California, he said. He said he couldn’t speculate on Ronald Reagan’s chances of receiving the Republican nomination for governor. Taylor didn’t say whether he is a Republican or Democrat, but he did say he is something of a conservative.

He said he has never considered directing and added that he thinks actors should stick to acting. He praised Everett and said he believes the young actor has a good future in movies. Taylor and Universal pictures personnel were to go on to Miami for the opening of “Tiger” there. Publicist Tony Hoffman said the movie was well-accepted at its world premier in Orlando Thursday night.

Taylor was born Spangler Arlington Brugh in Filley, Neb. He once considered either a medical or musical career but, after a part in a college play at Pomona College in Nebraska, became interested in dramatics.He studied acting at the Neely Dixon School in Hollywood and then began the long grind of studio rounds and interviews. He finally got a $35 a week contract in 1934 and later, that year, after several small parts, drew the second lead in Society Doctor with Chester Morris. The fan mail was good and his salary jumped to $50 a week. He made several other to Universal, won the lead opposite Irene Dunne in Magnificent Obsession.

The critics and audiences were receptive and Robert Taylor became a star.


Promotional photo for “Johnny Tiger.” Mr. Taylor liked this photo.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Robert Taylor Better Looking Than Years Ago
by Helen Griffith

Even better looking. One of the mayors of this area, who kept a luncheon date with screen star Robert Taylor this past weekend, remembered something I said and didn’t quite have nerve enough, myself, to say to the handsome likeable actor. It was at Holiday Inn where a group of us enjoyed chatting and taking “lunch break’ with Mr. Taylor during his stay in the area.

viuySaid the mayor: “as he addressed the group, a lady here just told me she thought you (Mr. T.) were better looking now than you were years ago.” How true. The intervening years and his life spent in the great out of doors, have turned a handsome face also into one of rugged strength. Personally, we are glad Robert Taylor has gotten out of armor. I look forward to seeing the star in the movie now playing at the Cinema, “Johnny Tiger,” in which he is cast in the role of a bespectacled intellectual who dedicates his life to teaching and educating the simple, backwoods children of the Seminole Indians…as the story depicts them.

Mr. Taylor is a “meat and potatoes” man, who raises quarter horses, enjoys his ranch in the west with his wife German actress Ursula Taylor and their children. Mrs. Taylor was not at the luncheon on Friday as she was spending the day with their good friends Viola and Tom Purvis in Bradenton. I told her husband that I happened to be with the Purvises and their daughter, Nancy, the night she was crowned Miss Florida and she was handed a telegram of congratulations from Robert Taylor who was in California at the time. This area is well known to the actor, who owns property in Bradenton and has been seen about this part of Florida off and on for the past dozen or so years. Tom and I met while we both

Robert Taylor and children in "Johnny Tiger."

Robert Taylor and children in “Johnny Tiger.”

were flying instructors during World War II,” explained the star of screen and television.

I admired the impeccable tailoring of his dark blue-gray suit. I thought to myself, why can’t more men wear their clothes like this man. I asked if he favored a tailor in this country or abroad. “I have an L.A. Tailor I’ve been using for years, he seems to know just what I want,” declares the actor, as I also eyed his choice of almost matching suit and tie. I didn’t see Mr. Taylor light a cigarette, but he did drink several cups of coffee…In fact at one time as we chatted, he tapped the side of a saucer “I need these!” he smiled.

The impeccably dressed Mr. Taylor with Mrs. Taylor.

The impeccably dressed Mr. Taylor with Mrs. Taylor.

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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