The Magnificent Seven

Nebraska’s Hollywood Cowboys and Indians by Alan J. Bartels

For the full article go to Nebraska Life, July/August 2020

Billy the Kid, 1941

The road to superstardom began in southeast Nebraska for actor Robert Taylor. The native of Filley appeared in more than 80 films, including Return of the Gunfighter, Saddle the Wind and The Law and Jake Wade. He was born Spangler Arlington Brugh
on Aug. 5, 1911. After graduating from Beatrice High School, he studied acting
for two years at Doane College in Crete. He followed when one of his professors
took a job at Pomona College in California. A talent scout discovered Brugh
during the school’s production of the World War I drama Journey’s End. MGM
signed the actor and changed his name. Taylor’s first film was the comedy
Handy Andy in 1934. The prolific actor appeared in four other movies that year
and seven in 1935. Taylor’s dedication to his craft included learning to draw a pistol
left-handed to accurately portray the lead role in Billy the Kid (1941).
He married actress Barbara Stanwyck. Her role as matriarch Victoria Barkley in
the Western television series The Big Valley made her a star. Taylor acted on the
small screen, too, taking over as host of Death Valley Days when Ronald Regan
traded acting for politics. “Oh, how I wish I could time travel and make a Western with fellow Nebraskans Henry Fonda, James Coburn or Robert Taylor said Oscar-winning director, screen-writer and Omaha native, Alexander Payne. “Taylor starred in two of my absolute favorite powerhouse Westerns, Devil’s Doorway and Westward the Women. His performances in each are wide, witty and realistic. Taylor was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame two years after his 1969 death. The Robert Taylor Memorial Highway runs between Filley and Beatrice, where his road to stardom began.

How to sit on a horse: Robert Taylor

How not to sit on a horse: Montgomery Clift

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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6 Responses to The Magnificent Seven

  1. Jen says:

    Thanks, Judith. I will read the article. Reading is what I love. On TV right now on one of the few channels I get, GRIT tv has Westward the Women. Another great movie!

    Like

    • giraffe44 says:

      I love to read too, Jen. Just as well with all this Covid business. I’m fascinated by Ancient Rome and am reading a lot of novels set there. It’s all Robert Taylor’s fault because of Quo Vadis. All the best, Judith

      Like

  2. Carl-Edward says:

    Barbara Stanwyck was a star well before: ‘The Big Valley’! In fact, she became a star whilst still in her twenties. She was a superb and versatile actress.

    Like

  3. giraffe44 says:

    Yes, I really wondered how much research the writer did. Stanwyck had a marvelous career long before The Big Valley. Judith

    Like

  4. Jen says:

    J, I tried to read the article ‘Hollywood’s Cowboys and Indians’ but guess I have to have a subscription to Nebraska Life. No biggie. I have been reading your RT reviews on IMDB. RT and John Wayne both get a lot of negative reviews and I know why;)

    Like

  5. giraffe44 says:

    I think the negative reviews stem mostly from envy, Jen. Picture a middle-aged, bald, overweight man reviewing these real men. John Wayne and Rober Taylor were way, way out of their league. Thanks for writing. Judith

    Like

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