Saturday, November 16, 2013
Story of Robert Taylor & Barbara Stanwyck
Bob’s arrival in New York on August 19, 1937, in preparation for his leaving for Europe, was met by screaming fans and a sneering press corp. They tried again with, “Would you rather be brainy or beautiful?” in which he replied, “I haven’t much choice in the matter.” He then did something he would do throughout his career: downplay his own talent. “You know I’m really lucky to be where I am. All I play is straight stuff—I’m not much of an actor, you know.” And (as usual) he was asked about Barbara. “She calls me Bob —and I call her Boobs. That’s all I can say about it now.” By the time he returned to the United States in mid-December he was ready to come home. He and other cast members departed on the Queen Mary. When the ship arrived in New York, he met the press wearing candy-striped pajamas and a stubble. One reporter got a little tough. “Come on, Taylor, Let’s get this thing settled. Did you or did you not say you were beautiful?” Bob handled that with aplomb. “I’ll ask you one. Would a man say that about himself? Would you?” Lionel Barrymore, also on board, came to Bob’s defense. “Bob is a fine lad. He has no vanity at all.”
The summer months of 1938 came to a close with Hollywood being targeted by Washington for political fodder, with Bob, among others, at the center of the controversy. Robert Taylor was anything but a Communist supporter, socialist, liberal, or Democrat. A former member of the Boy Scouts of America and the Order of DeMolay, Taylor, foursquare Republican and patriot, like Barbara, was anti-Roosevelt and anti–New Deal, raised a Nebraska heartland Methodist from a long line of Methodists and German Baptists and, like his mother, didn’t trust Catholics, Jews, or Italians. (from "A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940" by Victoria Wilson)
Bob told reporters that he had wanted to make a Western ever since he began working in films. “In fact, if I had my choice I’d never have done anything else. Bill Hart and Tom Mix were my earliest film idols. When I was a kid I would see their films over and over again. One day I took my lunch to the movie theatre and stayed through nine showings of a Mix picture.” He also was so taken with Arizona that he said he is considering buying a ranch there. “I want a practical cattle ranch and the more acreage the better.”
Bob’s testimony in October is remembered primarily today because he “named names” of people who he suspected might be Communists. What is forgotten about his testimony is that it differed somewhat from his testimony in Los Angeles the previous May in one important respect. He softened the assertion that he had been pressured to make Song of Russia. Was Bob saying that Howard Da Silva was a Communist? No, he clearly states that he is somebody who "always seems to have something to say at the wrong time."