Robert Taylor Working With Dishpan Hands
St. Petersburg Times
April 2, 1946
by Virginia McPherson
Hollywood–UP–Robert Taylor, that handsome lady-killer, gay dog, and ex-dashing flier-into-the-wild blue yonder, is slaving over a hot stove.
The pride of MGM is chief chef at home. And the parlor maid is that equally glamorous Barbara Stanwyck–Mrs. T in private life. Instead of hitting the night spots they double up on the dishes.
It seems the servants at the Taylor household, in the full flush of victory, waited just long enough for their boss to get reconverted to civilian life after three years as a naval flight instructor. Then they up and left.
“The cook’s retirin,” explained Chef Taylor. “She was with us six years. And I guess she’s saved more money than we have. So Barbara and I are keeping house.”
He’s not neglecting the ladies, though. MGM saw to that. The minute he go rested up–on a duck hunting trip–they popped him into “Under-Current,” opposite Katharine Hepburn.
All day long he’s in there pitching woo with Miss H. (He also pitches a few other things at her, and we’ll get around to that in a minute.)
Come quitting time he goes home trades his glammer clothes for a frilly apron and starts to peel spuds.
“And I’m not bad on this chef stuff, either,” he insisted. “Nothing very fancy. But we eat it.”
When he has a day off the chef and the parlor maid clean house. It’s one way they have of seeing each other. For a while there the Taylors weren’t doing much more than shaking hands as they met at the door.
“Barbara was working when I got discharged,” Taylor explained. “So if I wanted to see her I had to hang around her set all day.”
The minute she finished up her picture, he went to work on his.
“It’s getting now so whenever anyone asks Barbara when she goes to work again,” he added. “she just says ‘find out when Bob finishes, I’ll be sure to start the next day.'”
But they’re hoping for reinforcements n the household chores. Miss Stanwyck’s getting weary of cleaning up after Taylor’s cleaning.
“We sort of have our eye on a young Irish girl,” he explained. She’s looking for a place to live hat’s close to a church. And we’re just around the corner from one. Maybe she’ll pick us.”
Meanwhile, he’s showing up for work with dishpan hands. And that’s a far cry from those “pretty pretty” roles that almost wrecked his career. There was a time there, about ten years ago, when Actor Taylor was so handsome it was almost a liability.
So the bosses gave him a vacation while they knocked themselves out trying to cook up a
plot for him that would prove to the panting lady customers their hero didn’t wear a toupe on his chest.
It worked out okay for all concerned. But it was a little hard on the Taylor nerves for a while.
“I’m kind of a dual personality in this one,” he explained. You never know whether I’m a good egg or a dirty dog.”
He alternates, Taylor said, between making violent love to Miss Hepburn and trying to dash her head in with a rock. Or maybe that’s the same ting–Hollywood style.
“It’s pretty good stuff,” he said. “The only thing is, it seems like I’m always going off into a fit of violent rage and throwing things.”
He was a little calmer this morning. All he had to do was sit at a night club table and chat with Miss H., who was looking extra-glamorous in a clinging black dress and a hat that looked like a porcupine. The only detail that didn’t seem to go with the outfit was the heavy wool stockings she wore with her spike heels.
“The camera doesn’t go below the table,” she said. “and I’m freezing. The wind’s whistling around this set like a gale. That’s why I’m cuddling up to this hot water bottle.”
Other photos from Undercurrent, also starring Robert Mitchum:
Photos from the set of Undercurrent:
Not one of my favorite Taylor (or Hepburn) films but an interesting one. Some really tricky photography. I know he was an excellent horseman but I always wondered how he stayed on that horse during the final scenes.
It’s not one of my favorites either, although Mr. Taylor is excellent. The horse episode is amazing–he really could do anything on a horse. I’ll be on the lookout for more backstage photos and maybe something will turn up. Good to hear from you.
It IS one my Taylor favorites to me, though–just watching him in a film-noir/thriller movie (a genre I’ve always found particularly fascinating) is quite a treat, and he did it marvelously, to the point of making Hepburn (no less) pale in comparison. Now I didn’t know about those wool stockings! Will remember it the next time I see that sequence. 🙂
Vincente Minelli agreed with you. I can’t find the quote but he said that Robert Taylor “grabbed the film from Hepburn and ran with it.” That’s a paraphrase but it’s close. I think the reason it’s not one of my favorites is Hepburn, although she’s less artificial than usual. Did you know that, according to MGM records, Mr. T’s films made a $22,802,000 profit for them? That’s NET profit. No wonder they liked him. 🙂
Thanks for the great photo and interesting selection of material. In this movie Robert Taylor proved that he is a great psychological and acute-typical actor. I really like the scene “anger” – his crazy eyes. I was very shooced the final scene with the horse – it’s phenomenal! How Robert Taylor managed so great to stay in the saddle the unruly horse? He is gread rider! Very interesting photo about what Robert Taylor is cooking. – Talented person is talented in everyting!
You’re right, Anna. Mr. Taylor was wonderful in “Undercurrent.” I think his experiences in World War II gave him more emotional depth. Thanks for writing.