Robert Taylor

In the late 1950s, after the Black Saddle series wrapped for good, I was able to secure a new stand-in position on the Robert Taylor Detective series.   In fact, strangely, I stood in for Robert Taylor for nearly two years.   I say strangely since I had no resemblance to Robert Taylor neither in features, hair color, nor height.   Nor was I related to anyone on the show. 🙂   It was more a case of having proven myself as an attentive and reliable stand-in on the Black Saddle series and both were produced by Four Star Productions (This is the company that took over the old Republic Studios.  Rifleman, The Big Valley, Wanted Dead Or Alive and many other shows were in production at the same time under the Four Star banner.).

Moreover, as I soon discovered, Robert Taylor was such a huge screen star that any production he was involved with always had the best of technicians in all categories.   The camera men and lighting guys were so good that often I was only called into the set for a few brief minutes for the camera to set the shot and the lighting paraphernalia adjustments applied.

I’m often asked what was Bob like or what was it like to work with him.     As huge as he was on the screen, on the set his presence was equally imposing.   An aura of self-assurance and kindness coupled with incredible stage presence and talent is one recollection.    Idiosyncrasies or signs of greatness; he almost always bought his lunch in a paper bag, rarely leaving the environment of the set and his dressing room from the time he appeared in the morning until he was wrapped for the day;  he went out of his way to relax any day player who showed signs of nervousness or stage fright  bought on by working with him;  extremely courteous to all (even me) around him; his normal speaking voice was identical to the sound you hear on the screen; often making slight script adjustment suggestions to the director but never making a demand.   Unlike other big stars I worked with, Bob never lost his cool or showed any signs of anger.   I think only Gary Cooper had those same qualities (will blog about him later).

Bob and the other detectives were a fun lot to work with, especially Tige Andrews, the jokster.

Tige and I became good friends over time.   On one occasion, he was moonlighting doing the lead in the “Three Penny Opera” in a Hollywood stage show; he invited me to watch the show.   After. he took me backstage and introduced me to the main cast members (no, I don’t remember them. 🙂 ), then he invited me to and treated me to a midnight eat-fast at some restaurant in Hollywood with many other cast members.   You may remember Tige Andrews as the head detective in “The Mod Squad”.

The same as when I stood in on The Black Saddle, I was often upgraded to a silent bit (see my SEG blog for explanation).    You can see one of my upgrades in the clip below were I walk into the men’s room. 🙂

 

This is a very short clip from the “alibis” episode.   The leading lady for this drama was a beautiful young lady who I had never seen before.  She was very friendly and we spent hours in discussions between takes.   She informed me that this was her last free lance performance.  She had just signed a contract for a new series.   I wished her the best of luck for success in her upcoming role.   She was filled with excitement for her future.  She had every right to be.   Her name is Donna Douglas.    Though  not in these few excerpted seconds from the episode, do you recognize the name as the now famous Ellie May Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies. 🙂

A few scenes from several episodes:

Whoops, when I made the clip above I inadvertently included a short video from “No Business Like Show Business”.  I played a young priest graduating with Johnny Ray.

Long before I stood in for Robert Taylor, I was booked on D-Day 6th Of June and worked in a scene with Bob:

 

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Robert Taylor

    • Thanks for noticing me. 🙂 I hope one day this series will be rebroadcast so I can download many more scenes I worked in. So far every copy I have been able to find is so badly re-recorded from VHS tape that it is useless for even the most careful viewing.

      • The only decent DVD set is in German. The images are crystal clear, as good as the original. If you know any German, it’s worth it. I get by on my college German. You do have to have a region free player.

        • Thanks for the heads up. Actually I was born in Germany but have long forgotten the language. 🙂 .Yes, I have a region free player. I’m going to wait just a little longer to try to find an English language version. When I post a clip I hope to let the audience understand the context of the scene.

  1. Ralph,
    My mom went to Beverly Hills H.S. and did some acting there. She told us several years ago that she was an extra in the show called the Detective(s). I don’t even know if the series is out on DVD but I would love to find video of her. She’s not in any of the clips posted on Youtube that I’ve seen. I only asked her once about it and she said she remembers being an extra in a shoot inside a bank. I have pictures of her from back then so I could recognizer her but didn’t know if the series made it to disk or if there were any records that may have listed extras and the work they did. Her birth name was Stephanie Berzon but I believe her stage name was Stephanie Blake. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank You
    Dave

    • Hi Dave,

      I’ve looked for years trying to find The Detectives on
      TV or for sale without success. There never are any records
      of extras listed except for Around The World In Eighty Days.
      I’ll look for her in that book if I can find it.

      I am always on the lookout for The Detectives as I’m sure one
      day it will be repeated on some TV channel. Check here every
      few months as I will post that information the moment I can
      spot it.

      Ralph

  2. Hi Mikayla,

    Murray Hamilton is very familiar to me. I can’t recall specifically working with him but I know I was booked on several movies in which he had parts. I worked on a lot of series in the 50s that show up in his filmography. In addition Jeanne Eagles and No Time For Sergeants were two movies we both worked in.
    I am fascinated that your grandmother had the pleasure of working with Jimmy Durante as well as a personal relationship with Phil Harris. Both were favorite comedians of mine. I think I worked with Phil Harris but Jimmy Durante was not very active in movies during the time I was totally involved in the studios from 1953 to 1963.

    Ralph

  3. My mom and I think you are great for posting all this wonderful personal and inspirational history, and want to know if you ever worked with Murray Hamilton?We are very intersted to find people who knew him. And FYI, my mom’s grandmother was in show business and worked with Jimmy Durante and was engaged to Phil Harris before he married Alice Faye!

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