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About Arlington Spangler Brugh
Robert Taylor (August 5, 1911 – June 8, 1969) was an American film and television actor. He served as a United States Navy flying instructor during World War II.
Born Arlington Spangler Brugh in Filley, Nebraska, he was the son of Ruth Adaline (née Stanhope) and Spangler Andrew Brugh, who was a farmer turned doctor. During his early life, the family moved several times, living in Muskogee, Oklahoma; Kirksville, Missouri; and Fremont, Nebraska. By September 1917, the Brughs had moved to Beatrice, Nebraska, where they remained for 16 years.
As a teenager, he was a track star and played the cello in his high school orchestra. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska to study music.
While at Doane, he took cello lessons from Professor E. Gray, a man whom he admired and idolized. After Professor Gray announced he was accepting a new position at Pomona College in Los Angeles, Brugh moved to California and enrolled at Pomona. He joined the campus theatre group and was eventually spotted by an MGM talent scout in 1932 after production of Journey's End.
After Brugh signed a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $35 a week, his name was changed to Robert Taylor. He made his film debut in the 1934 comedy, Handy Andy, opposite Will Rogers (on a loan-out to 20th Century Fox). After appearing in a few small roles, he appeared in one of his first leading roles in Magnificent Obsession, with Irene Dunne. This was followed by Camille, opposite Greta Garbo.
Throughout the late 1930s, Taylor appeared in films of varying genres including the musicals Broadway Melody of 1936 and Broadway Melody of 1938, and the British comedy A Yank at Oxford with Vivien Leigh. In 1940, he reteamed with Leigh in Mervyn LeRoy's drama Waterloo Bridge. Taylor would say that Waterloo Bridge was his favorite film.
After being given the nickname "The Man with the Perfect Profile", Taylor began breaking away from his perfect leading man image and began appearing in darker roles beginning in 1941. That year he portrayed Billy Bonney (better known as Billy the Kid) in Billy the Kid. The next year, he played the title role in the film noir Johnny Eager opposite Lana Turner. After playing a tough sergeant in Bataan in 1943, Taylor contributed to the war effort by becoming a flying instructor in U.S. Naval Air Corps. During this time, he also starred in instructional films and narrated the 1944 documentary The Fighting Lady. Robert Taylor first appeared with actress Elizabeth Taylor in the 1949 movie Conspirator. 38 year old Taylor was somewhat uncomfortable with Elizabeth Taylor being 16 years old and his love interest. The age difference was mentioned in the film, when they made Elizabeth state her age as 18 years old to Robert's age of 31 years of age.
In 1950, Taylor landed the role of General Marcus Vinicius in Quo Vadis, opposite Deborah Kerr. The film was a hit, grossing US$11 million. The following year, he starred opposite Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of Walter Scott's classic Ivanhoe, followed by 1953's Knights of the Round Table and The Adventures of Quentin Durward, all filmed in England.
By the mid-1950s, Taylor's career began to wane. He starred in a comedy western in 1955 co-starring Eleanor Parker called Many Rivers To Cross. In 1958 he shared lead with Richard Widmark in the edgy John Sturges western, The Law and Jake Wade. In 1958, he formed his own production company, Robert Taylor Productions, and the following year, he starred in the ABC hit television series The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor (1959–1962). Following the end of the series in 1962, Taylor continued to appear in films and television including A House Is Not a Home and two episodes of Hondo. In 1964, he co-starred with his former wife, Barbara Stanwyck, in William Castle's psychological horror film The Night Walker. In 1965, after filming Johnny Tiger in Florida, Taylor took over the role of narrator in the television series Death Valley Days, when Ronald Reagan left to pursue a career in politics. Taylor would remain with the series until 1969 when he became too ill to continue working.
In February 1944, Taylor helped found the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. In 1947, he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee regarding fellow actors whom he believed to be Communists.
After Taylor appeared with actress Barbara Stanwyck in the 1937 film This Is My Affair, the two were married in 1939. The marriage had its ups and downs and eventually ended in 1951. In 1954, Taylor married German-born actress, Ursula Thiess, with whom he had two children. Terry was born in 1955 and Tessa in 1959.
In 1951, Taylor starred in the film Above and Beyond, a biopic of Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets. The two men met and found that they had much in common. Both had considered studying medicine, and were avid skeet-shooters and fliers. Taylor learned to fly in the mid-1930s, and served as a United States Navy flying instructor during World War II. His private aircraft was a Twin Beech called "Missy" (wife Stanwyck's nickname) which he used on hunting and fishing trips. She complained that he spent all his time polishing his guns and aircraft, but when airborne could "do anything a bird could do, except sit on a barbed wire fence".
Taylor's large home and ranch, located at 3099 Mandeville Canyon Road in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, became a notable piece of property in the Los Angeles area due to its acreage, location and home size. When it went up for sale in 2010, it was listed at $56,000,000, now $38,000,000.
On June 8, 1969, Taylor died of lung cancer at the age of 57 and was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Glendale, California.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Robert Taylor has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street.
Robert Taylor's Timeline
August 5, 1911
June 8, 1969