91 (passed away Jul. 21st, 1998)
Feb. 22nd, 1907
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Robert Young's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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.
- Did not renew his MGM contact after filming _The Canterville Ghost (1944)_ (qv) 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' (qv), 'Joan Crawford (I)' (qv), 'Janet Gaynor (I)' (qv), 'Loretta Young' (qv), 'Norma Shearer' (qv) 'Katharine Hepburn' (qv) and 'Claudette Colbert' (qv), primarily because his acting was always reliable, complimentary and professional...plus the fact that he never tried to steal the spotlight.
- 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.
- Originating his _"Father Knows Best" (1954)_ (qv) role on radio, he was the only member of the radio cast to transfer his role to TV.
- 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.
- Interred at Forest Lawn (Glendale), Glendale, California, USA, in the Graceland section, lot #5905.
- (1991) Suicide attempt due to alcoholism and depression.
- 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.