The following letter, dated August 7, 1964, is from Robert Taylor to an acquaintance who sent him a birthday present. It was written two days after his 53rd birthday. It’s interesting that he expresses a desire not to return to television. Mr. Taylor was no longer getting good movie roles. Despite his age, Robert Taylor he was still seen as the romantic lover, a role which he refused to play. Other actors of his generation, like Cary Grant, were playing opposite increasingly younger woman which looked somewhat ridiculous.
The letter reads as follows:
ROBERT TAYLOR (letterhead)
August 7 (added by hand 1964)
Dear Miss. Mitchell—
Thank you so much for remembering my birthday. Actually I’ve been trying to “forget” about them for several years now but it seems a loseing [sic] battle.
We’ve had a very pleasant summer here in California—not too hot but sufficiently warm for the children to enjoy swimming in the pool. Terry is now up in northern California at a Boys Camp for the month of August. He was really looking forward to the riding and fishing which is provided there. Tessa is home with us, is taking regular swimming lessons, and seems to be doing very well.
At the moment I’m not working but several projects are being discussed and I hope one or more of them materialize. I would not like going back into Television but might have to if enough pictures don’t come along.
We hope you are well Miss Mitchell and, again, thank you for your card and the little bookmarker.
Robert Taylor (signature)
1964 was not a great year for Robert Taylor professionally. He made two films, The Night Walker and A House is Not a Home. The Night Walker is a tedious suspense thriller whose main claim to fame is that it reunited Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck on film for the first time since 1936. Mr. Taylor was signed for the film while he was out of the country and commented afterwards that Ms. Stanwyck got all the money he was paid as part of her 15 per cent of his earnings. She had been awarded this amount as part of their divorce in 1951 and never stopped collecting it. Mr. Taylor also said that it was as though they had never been married, which couldn’t have made Ms. Stanwyck very happy.
Author Lawrence Quirk described the film as follows: The Night Walker is interesting chiefly for its showcasing of fifty-three-old-Taylor and fifty-seven-year-old Stanwyck doing their professional best to make a sleek, chilly gem out of a rather claptrap piece of five-and-ten costume jewelry. (Lawrence J. Quirk,The Films of Robert Taylor, Citadel Press, 1975, page 182).
Scenes from The Night Walker, press conference and publicity photo.
A House Is Not a Home is based on Polly Adler’s best-selling autobiography about her life in the Roaring Twenties as a legendary Madam. The movie follows Polly’s life from an immigrant worker to becoming friend and confidante of underworld bigwigs, social leaders, businessmen, politicians, writers and artists. (Wikipedia). Mr. Taylor played Frank Costigan a mobster, a role he took strictly for the money. He looks much older than he did the previous year in Cattle King.
It’s interesting that what appears to have been typed out in typewrite font as “Mrs. Mitchell” then turns out to be “Miss Mitchell” written by hand. I wonder who edited that, and when. Cool letter.
You know, I always enjoyed The Night Walker since the first time I saw it. While I agree that A House Is Not a Home is pretty dull and RT looks tired (wearing that dreaded moustache for the last time on screen) I liked The Night Walker. Maybe a cheap thriller, yes, but it’s good entertainment, with a legendary (mature) couple, great score, and a quite unexpected ending.
I’ll have to try The Night Walker again. I remember it as awfully slow with a great deal of screaming by Barbara Stanwyck (who certainly could scream). RT did look good. I totally agree with you about the mustache. The only film I like it in is Johnny Eager. I haven’t seen A House for many, many years and have no memories of it. He does look exhausted in the photos.