Robert Taylor was born on August 5, 1911. 2019 is the 108th anniversary of his birth. Mr. Taylor died on June 8, 1969 from lung cancer.
Robert Taylor was one of the most talented and versatile actors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. He was a star from the 1930s to the 1960s. For those of you who want to know more about Mr. Taylor, I have listed number of books, in chronological order.
Jane Ellen Wayne, Robert Taylor: the Man with the Perfect Face, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1973, 1987. Ms. Wayne had the advantage of actually meeting Mr. Taylor. She also talked to his colleagues at MGM after his death. Ms. Wayne repeats stories she’s heard quite uncritically. Nonetheless, it’s the closest to Mr. Taylor’s lifetime and fun read.
Lawrence J. Quirk, The Films of Robert Taylor, Citadel Press, 1975. From the introduction: “[Robert Taylor] was a true gentleman and a finer artist than he would admit to himself or others. He was well-educated, socially tactful and highly intelligent.” Each of the Taylor films is discussed in depth and with numerous black and white illustrations.
Ursula Thiess, “but I have promises to keep.” My Life Before, With & After Robert Taylor. Xlibris Corporation, 2007. Published three years before Ms. Thiess’ death, this is a highly personal reminiscence of a strong and courageous woman. The bulk of the book is about her courtship and marriage to Robert Taylor. Sometimes the lack of dates is frustrating, but the book is both fascinating and moving.
Tranberg, Charles, Robert Taylor: a Biography. BearManor Media, 2011. This is a well researched book with footnotes and a bibliography. Mr. Tranberg concentrates on Robert Taylor’s films more than his personal life. The book contains a great deal of information and is worth reading. There are a few mistakes and many proofreading errors which detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
Linda Alexander, Reluctant Witness: Robert Taylor, Hollywood and Communism. 2nd edition, BearManor Media, 2016. If you’re going to read only one, this is the one it should be. Ms. Alexander worked on the book for years and had access to the Taylor family: Ursula, daughter Tessa and son Terry. The book deals with both Mr. Taylor’s personal life and his films. There are numerous photos in this edition.
Gillian Kelly, Robert Taylor: Male Beauty, Masculinity and Stardom in Hollywood. University of Mississippi, 2019. This book is based on a PhD thesis Ms. Kelly wrote for the Unversity of Glasgow. Ms. Kelly is a thorough researcher, a perceptive viewer and, when she’s not using academic jargon, a good writer. There is a lot of jargon, especially in the introduction and conclusion. The rest of the book is well worth your time.