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: