91 (passed away Jul. 21st, 1998)
Feb. 22nd, 1907
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Robert Young's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1954 - Secret of the Incas
1949 - That Forsyte Woman
1947 - They Won't Believe Me
1947 - Crossfire
1945 - The Enchanted Cottage
1944 - The Canterville Ghost
1942 - Journey for Margaret
1942 - Cairo
1941 - Lady Be Good
1941 - Western Union
1940 - The Mortal Storm
1936 - Stowaway
1936 - Secret Agent
1931 - The Black Camel
Guest TV Roles
Himself - Host
Dr. Gilbert Winfield
Himself - Host
Jim Anderson - Father Knows Best
Man on TV
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 (I)'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' (Book I -- Rogers' Rangers) (1940); Western Union (1941); and H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941). Good roles followed, from the husband of Dorothy McGuire (I)in 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. (1969) (TV). 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.
- Had 4 daughters with Betty Henderson. He was 17 and she was 14 when they met in high school.
- Was employed as a bank clerk and a reporter during his fledgling actor days and even found extra work in Keystone Cops movies.
- Took a seven year sabbatical from TV in 1962 following the failure of his second TV series _"Window on Main Street" (1961)_ (qv). Triumphantly returned in 1969 as _"Marcus Welby, M.D." (1969)_ (qv).
- Today, those who fondly recall him in the archetypal 1950s family sitcom _"Father Knows Best" (1954)_ (qv) 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.
- Had a nervous breakdown in 1966 and it took him nearly 4 years to recover.
- 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.
- Attempted suicide in 1991 as a result of a chemical imbalance and while battling Alzheimer's disease and heart problems.
- Sold Sanka coffee on TV for 5 years.