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Robert Young Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (37) | Personal Quotes (5) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 22 February 1907Chicago, Illinois, USA
Date of Death 21 July 1998Westlake Village, California, USA  (respiratory failure)
Birth NameRobert George Young
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Quiet, soft-spoken Robert grew up in California and had some stage experience with the Pasadena Playhouse before entering films in 1931. His movie career consisted of playing characters who were charming, good-looking--and bland. In fact, his screen image was such that he usually never got the girl. Louis B. Mayer would say, "He has no sex appeal," but he had a work ethic that prepared him for every role that he played. And he did play in as many as eleven films per year for a decade starting with The Black Camel (1931). He was notable as the spy in Alfred Hitchcock's Secret Agent (1936), but the '40s was the decade in which he was to have most of his best roles. These included Northwest Passage (1940); Western Union (1941); and H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941). Good roles followed, from the husband of Dorothy McGuirein Claudia (1943) to the detective in Crossfire (1947), but they were becoming scarce. In 1949, Robert started a radio show called "Father Knows Best" wherein he played Jim Anderson, an average father with average situations--a role which was tailor-made for him. Basically retiring from films, he starred in this program for five years on radio before it went to television in 1954. After a slight falter in the ratings and a switch from CBS to NBC, it became a mainstay of television until it was canceled in 1960. He continued making guest appearances on various television shows and working in television movies. In 1969, he starred as Dr. Marcus Welby in the TV movie Marcus Welby, M.D.: A Matter of Humanities (1969). The Marcus Welby series that followed ran from 1969 through 1976 and featured James Brolin as his assistant, Dr. Steven Kiley--the doc with the bike. After the series ended, Robert, now in his seventies, finally licked his 30-year battle with alcohol and occasionally appeared in television movies through the 1980s.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Spouse (1)

Elizabeth Louise Henderson (6 March 1933 - 4 April 1994) (her death) (4 children)

Trivia (37)

Had 4 daughters with Betty Henderson. He was 17 and she was 14 when they met in high school.
Suicide attempt due to alcoholism and depression. [1991]
Interred at Forest Lawn (Glendale), Glendale, California, USA, in the Graceland section, lot #5905.
Younger brother of actor Roger Moore (no relation to the popular British actor who is a former James Bond).
Originating his Father Knows Best (1954) role on radio, he was the only member of the radio cast to transfer his role to TV.
Jim Anderson, Young's character on Father Knows Best (1954), was ranked #6 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].
He has four daughters: Betty Lou Gleason, Carol Proffitt, Barbara Beebe, and Kathy Young. He has six grandchildren.
Following his sobriety, he was once chosen Honorary Chairman of National Health Week.
Sold Sanka coffee on TV for 5 years.
Had a nervous breakdown in 1966 and it took him nearly 4 years to recover.
In later years, Robert and Elizabeth lived in a house in Westlake Village, California called "The Enchanted Cottage," named after the 1945 film in which he starred with Dorothy McGuire.
Attempted suicide in 1991 as a result of a chemical imbalance and while battling Alzheimer's disease and heart problems.
His patented shyness and painful insecurity turned his social drinking into a chronic alcohol problem during his MGM years that lasted nearly three decades. He recovered with the aid and encouragement of his wife Elizabeth and through spiritual metaphysics (Science of Mind), not to mention Alcoholics Anonymous. He often held AA meetings in his home.
Took a seven year sabbatical from TV in 1962 following the failure of his second TV series Window on Main Street (1961). Triumphantly returned in 1969 as Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969).
Did not renew his MGM contact after filming The Canterville Ghost (1944) and chose to free-lance instead. After a great start in post-war pictures, his film career declined rapidly and he wisely moved to radio in 1949 and eventually TV.
Was a favorite co-star among Tinseltown's biggest female stars, including Margaret Sullavan, Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor, Loretta Young, Norma Shearer Katharine Hepburn and Claudette Colbert, primarily because his acting was always reliable, complimentary and professional...plus the fact that he never tried to steal the spotlight.
Was employed as a bank clerk and a reporter during his fledgling actor days and even found extra work in Keystone Cops movies.
MGM talent agents spotted him in a 1931 touring stage production of "The Ship" and signed him up.
Living in Los Angeles by the age of 10, he attended Lincoln High School in Los Angeles, where he met his future wife Elizabeth. It was she who prodded the shy guy into trying acting at the Pasadena Community Playhouse after graduation.
His Irish Protestant carpenter father abandoned the family when Robert was 10 years old. He was a newspaper boy during this time in order to help the family income.
Was the fourth of five children born to Thomas and Margaret (Fyfe) Young. His family moved from his native Chicago to Seattle, Washington, when he was less than a year old.
Today, those who fondly recall him in the archetypal 1950s family sitcom Father Knows Best (1954) may be surprised to learn that when the series debuted in 1954, the show did so poorly in the ratings that CBS canceled it in March of 1955. A flood of protests came from viewers insisting that the show be reinstated. The show was moved to an earlier time, and it gradually became a hit.
Best remembered by the public for his starring roles as Jim Anderson on Father Knows Best (1954) and the title character on Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969).
He was awarded 3 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard; for Radio at 1620 Vine Street; and for Television at 6360 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
He was a lifelong member of the Republican party and was a solid supporter of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.
His ex-Father Knows Best (1954) co-stars, Jane Wyatt, Billy Gray and Elinor Donahue, all came to his 90th birthday party in 1997.
Had suffered depression for 45 years, beginning in 1946, and finally recovered in 1991, along with his wife, who was depressed herself.
After his last Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969) TV reunion movie, he retired from acting at age 81.
Graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles, California, in 1925.
Attended the same high school with John Huston.
On Father Knows Best (1954), he created the character of one of his co-stars, Elinor Donahue's character, Betty Anderson, after one of his real-life daughters.
His wife of 61 years, Elizabeth Henderson, died on April 4, 1994.
He escorted Anita Page to her 21st birthday party at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1931.
Acting mentor and friends of Elinor Donahue and James Brolin.
Robert Young is on page 50 of the 1926 Year Book of Lincoln High School, Los Angeles, California. Next to his name and picture are his accomplishments that include: Head Yell Leader, Commissioner (Boys' Sports), Playcrafters, Lead in Taming of the Shrew, Pals and Sherwood, Leading part in opera Briar Rose.
Good friends with actor Robert Board, who Young selected to be his stand-in for nearly two decades.

Personal Quotes (5)

All those years at MGM I hid a black terror behind a cheerful face.
I was an introvert in an extrovert profession.
I really owe my first big opportunity to Irving Thalberg's technique of remaking pictures to his satisfaction. I was hired for a bit part as Helen Hayes' son in The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931) and, after shooting was completed, Thalberg kept adding scenes and reshooting so that, by accident, my bit part became a significant role.
[asked why he returned to television in the late 1960s] Films were already changing into what they are today when I became "available" in 1962. The kind of role I was supposedly best suited for -- light romantic comedy leads -- no longer existed. There wasn't a place for me. Feature films, you might say, passed me by.
[on his favorite role: 'The Enchanted Cottage'] The role symbolized my own life, though I wasn't a veteran who returned from war tragically disfigured. It demonstrated my theory that we are all, somehow, handicapped. Shyness and fear of people were my invisible scars. These were finally overcome, just as in the movie, because of the love of a woman who saw the 'perfect man' through all the imperfections.

Salary (1)

The Black Camel (1931) $150 /week

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