It’s A Wonderful Life–Says Robert Taylor, 1958

RT6900It’s a Wonderful Life—Says Robert Taylor, 1958

There is one man in the world who has lived, vicariously, through every phase of world history. He survived the persecution of the Christians in Rome. He was a valiant knight riding a charger when knighthood was in flower. He was a figure in early America; he was the ill-starred lover of a delicate Camille; a blue-eyed Indian and Billy the Kid. He has also worn many different military uniforms. He has sloshed through jungles, fought desert heat and hobnobbed with society. He also dropped the atomic bomb.

The star of whom we’re speaking is Robert Taylor.

Robert Taylor has the unique distinction of being a top-flight star for twenty-four years—and all of that time under contract to M-G-M. His latest film, M-G-M’s Party Girl


1935 with Irene Dunne in “Magnificent Obsession.”

takes him out of the two-gun Western territory (a territory he has occupied of late), and back into the white-tie-and-tails roles of the past. He has even returned to wearing a debonair mustache.

As a romantic, Robert Taylor’s record is one of the most star-spangled in the film city. His leading ladies have included such glamour queens as Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Janet Gaynor, Rosalind Russell, Lana Turner, Irene Dunne, Margaret Sullavan, Hedy Lamarr, Elizabeth Taylor and Deborah Kerr.


As he appeared with Greta Garbo, Lenore Ulric and Henry Danielle in “Camille,” 1937.

Party Girl finds him making love to Cyd Charisse, and Robert Taylor has lost none of the appeal that, back in 1937, caused two teenagers to hide under the bed of his stateroom when he sailed to Europe to make A Yank at Oxford. “It is and has been a wonderful life,” Robert Taylor says with a smile. “There is nothing I would change. I’ve always made it a policy to do anything the studio told me to do.  It’s their job to know what is best for an actor, and I’ve always assumed that they know more about it than I do.”


As a German in “Three Comrades,” with Margaret Sullavan, 1938.

Robert Taylor feels sorry for the young hopefuls of today who are embarking on screen careers. “There are too many ‘methods’ and ‘schools’ involved,” he said. “They’re confused before they start. They look upon acting with such awe that they scare themselves to death before they start.

“Dozens of them have come to me for advice. There’s only one thing I can tell them. Work at it. Don’t be afraid and get bogged down with techniques. Be sincere. Listen to the director and the studio and take their word that it’s right…and for Heaven’s sake stop sneering at roles just because you may not get featured billing.”


With Vivien Leigh in “Waterloo Bridge,” 1940.

Quiet dignity, friendly conviction and a firm attitude that “all’s right with the world” marks the Robert Taylor of today.





These are more of the photos that originally went with the article (or as close as I could get):

Left to right: Spring Byington, Rafael Storm, Robert Taylor, Joan Crawford in “When Ladies Meet”; with Elizabeth Taylor in “Conspirator”; with Deborah Kerr in “Quo Vadis,” 1951.

Left to right: with Cyd Charisse in “Party Girl”; Robert Taylor with his wife, Ursula Thiess.

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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8 Responses to It’s A Wonderful Life–Says Robert Taylor, 1958

  1. simpsonia says:

    “…and for Heaven’s sake stop sneering at roles just because you may not get featured billing.”

    This is interesting because I read somewhere that he turned down Operation Petticoat because he didn’t want to be billed under Tony Curtis. It’s too bad he declined it, even though Cary Grant is wonderful in the role Taylor would have played.


  2. giraffe44 says:

    I read somewhere that Mr. Taylor really wanted the part in Operation Petticoat but that the producers preferred Cary Grant. It’s hard to know after all this time. Thank you for writing.


  3. dianne345 says:

    An item on IMDB on Operation Petticoat confirms this. Tony Curtis idolized Cary Grant, as demonstrated in Some Like It Hot. Comedy was definitely one of Grant’s specialties. It’s too bad Bob Taylor didn’t have more opportunities to do comedy, as he did it quite well.

    I just got a catalog from the TCM shop, which only lists 2 Taylor films – Westward the Women & Lady of the Tropics, which was listed under Hedy Lamarr, although Taylor got first billing. This catalog has a section on “Screen Icons.” Sadly, our favorite star did not make the list, even though TCM probably has more of his films than those of any other star. I don’t get it. Another catalog, called Critics Choice, I believe, did list RT as an “icon.”


    • simpsonia says:

      Confirmed that RT was offered the role or that Grant was first choice? Sorry I’m dense, but I looked on IMDB and couldn’t find where it said either of those things (though I did see where Jeff Chandler was also offered the role before Grant…interesting). I can’t remember where I read the thing about Operation Petticoat being offered to RT but I know I read it somewhere, haha!


    • giraffe44 says:

      I believe that dianne345 means that Mr. Taylor wanted the role. I’d tell you where I read it but I’ve read so much I simply don’t remember.


    • giraffe44 says:

      Dianne, I don’t know what to think about TCM and Mr. Taylor. They have showed a lot of his films although there are only 2 this month. One is “Song of Russia,” which is one of the few I haven’t seen. I’ve wondered if Robert Osborne is semi-retired and others are making the choices. From what Mr. Osborne wrote the 2 times Mr. Taylor was Star of the Month he really admired Mr. Taylor’s work. I’m glad he’s an “icon” somewhere. Good to hear from you. Judith


  4. dianne345 says:

    I wonder if either Terry or Tessa Taylor will attend the funeral service for Nancy Reagan, As you well know, she & RT were Ron Jr.’s godparents & the Reagans were Tessa’s godparents. Ursula Taylor adored her husband the same way Nancy adored hers & both husbands reciprocated with their feelings about their wives. Nancy helped immeasurably with the funeral arrangements for Bob, as Ursula described in her autobiography. Nancy served our country well through her advice to her husband. I especially admired her support for stem cell research & her “Just Say No” campaign against drugs. A very classy lady whose like we may never see again in the White House. She was not afraid to disagree with extremists in her husband’s party.


  5. giraffe44 says:

    Hi, Dianne. I think the Taylor/Reagan parallels are interesting. Both men were married to actresses and both were divorced. Their second marriages were to actresses who stopped working to take care of their husbands. Both men were truly happy in their second marriages. I agree that Nancy Reagan exemplified class and I’m glad that the 2 are reunited again. Another parallel, of course, is that both women outlived their husbands. It will be interesting to see if either of the Taylor offspring attend the funeral. Judith


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