Robert Taylor on the Rogue River

The following quotation comes from the book Rogue River Guide and His Gold by Orval Robertson and James Magmer, copyright 2017 by Jeanne Magmer, C & M Communications.  The subtitle is The life and times of Southern Oregon Gold Miner/River Guide Orval Robertson 1891-1973. Used by permission.

This book is mostly a journal kept by Orval Robertson during both his gold mining and river guiding days.  The book is well written, well edited and enjoyable.  Anyone who would like more information or to buy the book go to rogueriverguideandhisgold@yahoo.com.

(From pages 115-116.)  Robert Taylor, the movie actor, was probably the most

Robert Taylor

famous person I ever took out on the Rogue fishing.  He came for the first time in the 1950s and I had him for eight straight days.  He came every year for the next four years.

Robert was a wonderful person.  He had his own plane and pilot and sometimes came with a cameraman who went ahead of us in his own boat and took pictures of us as we came through the riffles.

One October the cameraman was ahead of us just opposite Carpenter’s Island when Taylor hooked a large steelhead in the fast water.  “Pull over to that rock and hold the boat so I can play this one,” Taylor ordered. “I might be here an hours.”

I looked right at him and said, “If that old boy stays on your line for an hour, I’ll eat your hat.”

About the time I finished that sentence, Taylor’s fish took off down the river, gave one hard jerk and was gone.

Robert and Ursula Taylor

We drifted two miles after that without a strike and finally Taylor, to get a little action for his cameraman, told me to anchor the boat and tie his line to an oarlock which I did.  The cameraman got ready and with an “O.K.” to the cameraman started to jerk his pole as though he had a fish on.  But Taylor jerked his rod so hard that in the confusion and rod-waving, he pulled the oarlock free, broke his line and the oarlock disappeared forever into the Rogue.

Was I mad!  I jerked off my hat, threw it down on the bottom of the boat and stomped on it.  Taylor was mad too, not about breaking his line but because he thought I was trying to upstage him.

“What the hell’s going on,” he asked.  “He,” pointing to the cameraman, is taking my picture, not yours.  Then he shouted to the cameraman to “take that roll of film out of your camera and throw it in the river!”  Which the cameraman did.**

Robert and Ursula Taylor and a child (Tessa?)

It was easy for me to  forgive Taylor’s outbursts of vanity like that, he had so many other qualities I liked.  He loved raw onions, for instance, and would eat a large one every day we were on the river together for lunch.  One night before a drift I happened to be in Byrd’s market in downtown Grants Pass and saw a really large sweet onion which I bought and gave to him the next day when we stopped for lunch.  “That sure is a dandy, Orv,” he said.

And he liked children.  Twice when he came he brought along his neighbor’s boy as a member of his fishing party.  The boy was twelve when I first met him and sixteen the last

Robert Taylor

time  he came.

One summer Robert called me long-distance from Florida.  He just wanted to talk.  “Orv,” he said, “I’m down here  quail hunting but it sure is slow.  And the fishing doesn’t compare with the Rogue.  What’s doing on the river?”  A month later he called me from Rome, which was a real thrill for me.  The last time I took Robert on the Rogue he was relaxing a few days before flying off to England to make a film called Ivanhoe.

Some years after that I had a man and his son fishing and the little fellow said to me, “I hear you used to take Robert Taylor fishing.”

I told him I had.  “Robert came up every year for about four years running.”

“Did you ever have him in this boat?” the boy asked.

When I said I had, he wanted to know what seat Robert sat in and when I showed him, he went and sat in it and squirmed his little bottom around.  “Was Robert Taylor a good fisherman?” the boy asked.

I can still see the freckles across the ridge of that boy’s nose as he asked his question.  “He was one of the best,” I said.  “If the fish were in the river, Robert could catch them.”

*A rocky or shallow part of a stream or river with rough water.

**My opinion is that the cameraman was MGM’s idea and Mr. Taylor just wanted to get it over with so he could enjoy his fishing.

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 Robert Taylor on the Rogue River

  1. Martha Crawford Cantarini says:

    Fun Rogue River story. Yes I too would be sure the cameraman was MGM’s idea.

    Like

  2. June Alexander says:

    Thank you Judith, another gem from the past. A very interesting read, not sure I could enjoy onions as he did, but they do have remarkable health qualities so I have been told.

    Like

  3. Hi, June. I can’t help thinking of his breath. Between the cigarettes and the onions, it must have been ripe. Ursula was a saint to put up with it. Judith

    Like

  4. Hi, Martha, the anger seems uncharacteristic unless it was something that the studio had foisted on Mr. Taylor. Judith

    Like

    • Martha Crawford Cantarini says:

      I have a hunch it was the studio as these hunting and fishing trips were his way of getting away from it all and he would be very resentful of them if they interfered.

      Like

  5. Yes, Martha, he probably resented their intrusion on his relaxation. Judith

    Like

  6. Robert James Crawford says:

    I love that Mr. Taylor is part of my family’s history

    Like

  7. You’re very lucky. I’ll bet Mr. Taylor and Mr. Robertson got along beautifully.

    Like

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