Robert Taylor Profile
* Films in Bold Will Air on TCM
Around MGM, he was always known as a "regular Joe," the down-to-earth star who never put on airs or pretenses. A good illustration is what happened one day in the MGM commissary when he spotted Greta Garbo visiting for lunch, years after she and Taylor had costarred in the classic Camille. Friends urged him to go over and say hello but he didn't. "She was a woman whose privacy you always respected," he said. "Besides, I thought, why would she remember me?" Always a company player, Taylor never complained about the roles he was assigned, he never went on suspension, and didn't make waves. Conflict was not his style.
He also had the distinction of remaining under contract to a single studio (MGM) longer than all other above-the-title stars in Hollywood (24 years, from 1934-58). Only twice did he ever jolt his basic good ol' boy image: once was in the late 1940s when he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee as a so-called "friendly witness" during an investigation into possible Communist messages being injected into film content; another time, a couple of years later, he was divorced by a reluctant Barbara Stanwyck after stories began to surface about extra-curricular dalliances Taylor had with costars such as Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and Eleanor Parker.
Still a good guy, the image basically remained intact and still does, thanks to his Ivanhoe, Quentin Durward, Roy in Waterloo Bridge, Marcus Vinicius in Quo Vadis?, Armand in Camille, Bob Merrick in Magnificent Obsession and even his less-than-virtuous Billy the Kid and Johnny Eager. As his friend Ronald Reagan said in the eulogy he delivered at Taylor's funeral in 1969, "Each one of us has his own different memory of Bob but somehow they all add up to "nice man." Well said. And I think you'll thoroughly enjoy spending time with this "nice man" throughout the month here on TCM.
by Robert Osborne