In Praise of a Handsome Man (part 1)

narcissus-daffodil-robert-gebbieIt’s Spring and in the northern hemisphere life returns. We wait anxiously for the first snowdrop, the first crocus, daffodil, tulip. It is a time for life, love and beauty. So, in the spirit of  love and beauty, I present a totally frivolous blog post – In Praise of a Handsome Man (Part 1).

Robert Taylor was not interested in his looks. Lloyd Nolan, with whom he worked in The Last Hunt, said that Mr. Taylor couldn’t accept that his looks were a professional asset. Mr. Taylor wasn’t a model, he was an actor who got better and better over time. He regretted an early publicity campaign that temporarily stereotyped him as a “pretty boy.” As I have established elsewhere in this blog Mr. Taylor was a fine actor, a good father, a good friend and an American patriot. But let’s be honest–he was also a gorgeous man. MGM Knew this and exploited it by placing him frequently in situations designed to make the female viewer’s heart beat faster.

To make the most of his physique, MGM had Robert Taylor take a great many onscreen baths and showers. In reviewing Personal Property (1937), Sheilah Graham called him “deeply hygienic.” He also sometimes stripped to the waist in the heat. Mr. Taylor also went swimming in several films.  Robert Taylor was a very modest man and this kind of exposure must have been uncomfortable but there is no doubt that these scenes added spice to the films.

Some examples:

Above and Beyond, 1952
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His Brother’s Wife, 1936.  Photos 1. 2,3, 4 are promos..
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Personal Property, 1937
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A Yank at Oxford, 1938
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The Crowd Roars, 1938
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Three Comrades, 1938
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The Bribe, 1949 On the set; modestly robed in the actual scene. Mr. Taylor and Ms. Gardner have supposedly just been for a swim.
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Ambush, 1950
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Quo Vadis, 1951 (Not all of this appeared in the film.)
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Note Norman Wooland cracking up in the last photo.

Many Rivers To Cross, 1955
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Quentin Durward, 1955
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House of the Seven Hawks, 1959
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The Glass Sphinx, 1967  Showering next to Anita Ekberg.
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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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4 Responses to In Praise of a Handsome Man (part 1)

  1. Judith: I have seen all the shower and bath scenes. But what really gets me, I swoon whenever there is a close up of him in many of his films. As I have stated before there are films where he looks fantastic and there are some where he looks a bit off but he is always a very handsome man. My all time favorite close up is when Greta Garbo sees him for the first time at the theatre in Camille. That close up of him looking up at her made me realize why thousands of women fell in love with him after that movie. Then there is the close up of him speaking to Arlene Dahl in the movie, Ambush, when she discovers him after he has shaved his beard. That close up of his face made me feel faint I have to admit. Regards, Linda Doty

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    • giraffe44 says:

      While we all admire Mr. Taylor’s acting ability, Linda, let’s be honest, as you are, and admit the first thing we noticed was his looks. I thought he looked fantastic in Rogue Cop. There’s a scene with Janet Leigh, where he asks her to tell him her story. Mr. Taylor says, “I love cute stories,’ with the most innocent look on his face. In the Bribe, the character is seriously conflicted for most of the story and it shows in his face. I thought he was good at keeping his personal life out of his acting. For instance, he hated making Her Cardboard Lover but you’d never know it. I first met Robert Taylor on The Detectives and that was that. I can’t imagine why they thought they needed young guys for sex appeal. He had more sex appeal in his little finger than Mark Goddard and Adam West had together. I do love that scene in Camille where he looks up at Ms.Garbo. Just perfect. Have you seen the version of Ambush with the shower scene? Judith

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      • Judith: Yes I saw the shower scene in Ambush. What a beautiful man. I swooned. He made that movie in 1950 and looked so handsome. I like his character in that movie as well., strong, independent his own man. The opening scene of the film where he has to out smart the indians and get a horse was amazing. He was so athletic and really could ride a horse. When they shot that close up of him and Arlene Dahl she was in her mid twenties and he was 39. Every time I see that close up it just about takes my breath away. Regards, Linda Doty

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  2. giraffe44 says:

    Hi, Linda. I’m sure you’ve read how Mr. Taylor came to star in that film. They wanted him to do Battleground but he’d had enough of the war. I love the way he could control his body and was amazed at how good he was as a klutz in The Last Hunt. Judith

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