About Glen H. Taylor, U.S. Senator
Glen Hearst Taylor (April 12, 1904 – April 28, 1984) was an American politician, businessman and United States Senator from Idaho. He was the vice presidential candidate on the Progressive Party ticket in the 1948 election. Taylor was otherwise a member of the Democratic Party. By one measure Taylor was determined to be the second most liberal member of the United States Senate (trailing only Wayne Morse of Oregon), and the fourth most liberal member of Congress overall between 1937 and 2002.
Taylor was the son of a wandering preacher. He moved to a homestead near Kooskia, Idaho, as a child and attended the public schools. In 1919, he joined a stock theater company. Between 1926 and 1944, he became the owner and manager of various entertainment enterprises. Taylor was also a country-western singer; his older sister, Lena, became famous as a jazz singer under the name Lee Morse in the 1920s.
Taylor was inspired to run for political office by King Camp Gillette's book The People's Corporation and Stuart Chase's 1932 book A New Deal. In 1935 Taylor unsuccessfully attempted to organize a Farmer–Labor Party in Nevada and Montana.
By the late 1930s Taylor had settled in Pocatello. His first political campaign was in 1938 for a seat in the United States House of Representatives, but he finished a distant fourth in the Democratic primary.
Taylor first ran for the Senate in 1940 in a special election to fill the remaining term of the late William E. Borah, but lost to John W. Thomas with 47.1 percent to Thomas' 52.9 percent. Despite being labeled as "semi-socialistic" and "communistic," he ran again in 1942 against Thomas and lost a close race, 48.5 percent to 51.5 percent. Taylor won both nominations in spite of opposition from state Democratic Party leaders.
Taylor ran for the Senate for a third time in 1944, defeating incumbent D. Worth Clark in the Democratic primary and Gov. C. A. Bottolfsen in the general election. In the Senate Taylor, known as "The Singing Cowboy," acquired a reputation for eccentric behavior. Upon his arrival in Washington D.C., Taylor rode his horse, Nugget, up the steps of the United States Capitol building. Nugget also accompanied Taylor during a 1947 tour of the country highlighting his anti-war activism and opposition to the U.S. foreign policy of the time.
When Taylor moved to Washington, he and his family had a difficult time finding a place to live. In response Taylor, a musician and songwriter, stood outside and sang O GIVE US A HOME, NEAR THE CAPITAL DOME, WITH A YARD FOR TWO CHILDREN TO PLAY to the tune of "Home on the Range." He and his family were offered several places to rent.
On election night in 1946, Taylor made national headlines by allegedly breaking the jaw of a local Republican leader, Ray McKaig. Taylor claimed that McKaig had called him an obscene name, and struck him first with a punch that broke his nose, but McKaig denied those claims. McKaig claimed that while he was lying on the floor Taylor proceeded to kick him, but Taylor denied that claim. Later when Taylor lost his 1950 reelection campaign, McKaig sent a telegram that said, "You may have broken my jaw, but I just broke your back!!!"
Taylor also feuded with other Idaho Democrats, often making critical remarks about Gov. and later Sen. Charles C. Gossett. During the 1946 Democratic primary Taylor openly supported Gossett's opponent, George E. Donart, calling Gossett a "conservative" who "hobnobbed" with Republicans in Congress.
In the Senate Taylor became noted for lengthy speeches which were often critical of President Harry S. Truman's policies, particularly in foreign affairs. He was particularly critical of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, both of which he believed brought the United States closer to war with the Soviet Union. Taylor was decidedly less critical of the Soviet Union than most of his Senate colleagues, once noting that there was no need to criticize Soviet policy when there were 90 other Senators willing to do it every day.
Civil rights activism
Taylor was an early proponent of the civil rights movement and as a United States Senator openly opposed segregationist policies and supporters. In January 1947 Taylor requested that the Senate delay the swearing in of Mississippi Sen. Theodore G. Bilbo, who was reelected in 1946, pending investigation of charges against Bilbo for corruption and civil rights violations. As a result Bilbo – well known for his segregationist, racially-charged rhetoric – was never formally seated for his final Senate term. The impasse was not completely resolved until Bilbo's death in August 1947.
Taylor was arrested on May 1, 1948, in Birmingham, Alabama by police commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor, for attempting to use a door reserved for African Americans, rather than the whites-only door, while attempting to attend a meeting of the Southern Negro Youth Congress. He was subsequently convicted of disorderly conduct.
In July 1947, Taylor was asked by a United Press International reporter what he thought about reports that remnants of a UFO had been found by the Air Force near Roswell, New Mexico. Taylor replied that he almost hoped flying saucers would turn out to be spaceships from another planet. "They could end our petty arguments on earth." He went on to say that no matter what the UFOs turned out to be, they "can't be laughed off."
"Even if it is only a psychological phenomenon, it is a sign of what the world is coming to," Taylor explained. "If we don't ease the tensions, the whole world will be full of psychological cases and eventually turn into a global nuthouse."
1948 vice presidential nomination
In 1948 Taylor chosen as the vice presidential candidate on the Progressive ticket headed by former Vice President Henry A. Wallace of Iowa. The unabashedly leftist Wallace/Taylor ticket failed to carry any states and won only 2.4 percent of the nationwide popular vote. The nomination prompted an effort by conservatives within the Idaho Democratic Party to expel him from its ranks, but was defeated.
Taylor's run on the Progressive ticket earned him a reputation as an "incorrigible leftist" in Idaho and contributed to his defeat in his reelection campaign in 1950. Taylor was defeated in the Democratic primary by Clark, who in turn lost in the general election to conservative Republican Herman Welker.
Taylor served as president of Coryell Construction Company from 1950 to 1952, but was forced to resign after being labeled a "security risk," jeopardizing a government contract. Afterwards he was often forced to work manual labor construction jobs. He ran again for the Senate in 1954 but was decisively beaten by Republican incumbent Henry Dworshak, winning only 37.2 percent of the vote. His sixth and final Senate attempt came in 1956; he narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Frank Church and then got 5.1 percent of the vote in the general election as a write-in candidate.
In 1958 Taylor and his wife, Dora, moved to Millbrae, California, and began making hairpieces by hand based on a hairpiece Taylor made for himself in the early 1940s. By 1960 Taylor Topper Inc. had become the major manufacturer of hair replacements in the United States. Taylor told the Washington Post in 1978 that it was something he was very familiar with. "I was 18, a juvenile leading man in a traveling show, and my hair had begun to fall out. There isn't much demand for bald juvenile leading men, and I tried everything - sheep dip, what have you - and that just made it fall out faster."
Taylor explained that he had run for public office without the hairpiece and found that voters "didn't have much use for bald politicians", but "I ran the fourth time with it and won." His original toupee was made from a tin pie plate, which he lined with pink felt and swatches of human hair. Glen and Dora Taylor were successful manufacturing hair pieces, and Taylor Toppers became famous. The company, now known as Taylormade Hair Replacement, is still active in Millbrae.
Glen and Dora Taylor had three sons between 1935 and 1942. His oldest son was named Arod - Dora spelled backward.
Taylor died in April 1984 due to complications from Alzheimer's disease. He is interred at Skylawn Memorial Park in San Mateo, California. Dora Taylor remained in the San Mateo County area until her death in 1997.