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Robert Young (actor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Young
Young in 1957
Robert George Young

(1907-02-22)February 22, 1907
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJuly 21, 1998(1998-07-21) (aged 91)
Years active1927–1988
Political partyRepublican
Betty Henderson
(m. 1933; died 1994)

Robert George Young (February 22, 1907 – July 21, 1998) was an American film, television, and radio actor best known for his leading roles as Jim Anderson, the father character, in Father Knows Best (CBS, then NBC, then CBS again) and the physician Marcus Welby in Marcus Welby, M.D. (ABC). In 1978, Young produced a documentary that "stressed the importance of motorcycle training for teenagers." This film earned him the 1979 BAFTA Award for Best Specialised Film.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • 10 Things You Should Know About Robert Young
  • MIRACLES FOR SALE (1939) Mystery - Robert Young, Florence Rice
  • TCM Tribute to Robert Young
  • Window On Main Street - The Dollar Nineteen Thief - Robert Young - CBS 1961
  • CLAUDIA (Comedy, USA 1943) 480p; Dorothy McGuire, Robert Young


Early life

Born in Chicago, Young was the son of an Irish immigrant father, Thomas E. Young, and an American mother, Margaret Fyfe. While Young was a child, the family moved to various locations within the U.S., including Seattle as well as Los Angeles, where Young was a student at Abraham Lincoln High School. After graduation, he studied and performed at the Pasadena Playhouse while working odd jobs and appearing in bit parts in silent films. While touring with a stock company producing "The Ship", Young was discovered by a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer talent scout who signed the fledgling actor to a contract. Young made his sound-film debut for Fox Film Corporation in the 1931 Charlie Chan film Black Camel, starring Warner Oland.[1]

Film career

Young appeared in over 100 films between 1928 and 1952. In spite of having a "tier B" status, he co-starred with some of the studio's most illustrious actresses, such as Katharine Hepburn, Margaret Sullavan, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Helen Hayes, Luise Rainer, Hedy Lamarr, Helen Twelvetrees and (unrelated) Loretta Young. Yet most of his assignments consisted of short B movies, also known as "programmers", which required brief two- to three-week shooting schedules. Actors who were relegated to such hectic routines appeared, as Young did, in some six to eight movies per year.

As an MGM contract player, Young was obligated to accept any film assigned to him or risk being placed on suspension—and many actors who were placed on suspension were prohibited from earning a salary from any endeavor at all, even those unrelated to the film industry. In 1936, MGM summarily loaned Young to Gaumont British in the U.K. for two films; the first, Secret Agent, was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, while the other, It's Love Again, co-starred Jessie Matthews. While in England, he was convinced that MGM intended to terminate his contract, but he was mistaken.

He unexpectedly received one of his most rewarding roles late in his MGM career, in H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), which also benefited from one of Hedy Lamarr's most effective performances. He once remarked that he was assigned only those roles which Robert Montgomery and other A-list actors had rejected.

After his contract with MGM expired, Young starred in light comedies and dramas for studios such as 20th Century Fox, United Artists, and RKO Radio Pictures. From 1943, Young had more challenging roles in films like Claudia, The Enchanted Cottage, They Won't Believe Me, The Second Woman, and Crossfire. His portrayals of unsympathetic characters in several of these later films—which had seldom been the case in his MGM pictures—were applauded by numerous critics. In 1949, he returned to MGM briefly to appear in That Forsyte Woman with Errol Flynn and Greer Garson. He played the second lead in Secret of the Incas (1954) starring Charlton Heston, the film upon which Raiders of the Lost Ark was subsequently loosely based. Despite the picture's superior quality while being shot on location at Machu Picchu, it was the last feature film in which he appeared. Young's career had begun an incremental and almost imperceptible decline, despite a propitious beginning as a freelance actor without the nurturing of a major studio. He had continued starring as a leading man in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but only in mediocre films, and occasionally playing supporting roles in important films. Then, he subsequently disappeared from the silver screen—only to reappear, successfully, several years later on a much smaller one.

Television career

Today, Young is most remembered as the affable insurance salesman in the long-running popular sitcom Father Knows Best (1949–1954 on radio, 1954–1960 on television), for which he and his co-star Jane Wyatt won several Emmy Awards.[2] Elinor Donahue ("Betty"), Billy Gray ("Bud"), and Lauren Chapin ("Kathy") played the Anderson children in the television version.

Young then created, produced, and starred with Ford Rainey and Constance Moore in the nostalgic CBS comedy series Window on Main Street (1961–1962).

Young's final television series was Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969–1976), co-starring a young James Brolin. This show earned an Emmy for Young, for best leading actor in a drama series.

He shared the stage on The Dick Cavett Show with Jimi Hendrix in September 1969.

Until 1982, he made numerous television commercials for Sanka coffee.[3]

The popular phrase "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" from a commercial for Vicks 44 cough medicine has been erroneously attributed to Young due to his Marcus Welby, MD fame. It was actually spoken by actor Chris Robinson and then by Peter Bergman during the 1980s.[citation needed]

Personal life and death

Young was married to Betty Henderson for 61 years from 1933 until her death in 1994. They had four daughters: Carol Proffitt, Barbara Beebe, Kathy Young, and Betty Lou Gleason. They also had six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Despite his trademark portrayal of happy, well-adjusted characters, Young's bitterness toward Hollywood casting practices never diminished, and he suffered from depression and alcoholism, culminating in a suicide attempt in January 1991.[4] Later, he spoke candidly about his personal problems in an effort to encourage others to seek help. The Robert Young Community Mental Health Center is named after Young in honor of his work toward passage of the 708 Illinois Tax Referendum, which established a property tax to support mental health programs in his home state. The center started in Rock Island, Illinois, and now has sites in both Iowa and Illinois, as part of the Quad-City metropolitan area.[5]

Young died of respiratory failure at his Westlake Village, California, home on July 21, 1998.[6]

He has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; the stars are in the categories of film (located at 6933 Hollywood Blvd.), television (6358 Hollywood Blvd.), and radio (1660 Vine Street).[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1928 The Godless Girl Student Uncredited
1931 The Black Camel Jimmy Bradshaw A Warner Oland / Charlie Chan film
1931 The Sin of Madelon Claudet Dr. Lawrence Claudet Alternative title: The Lullaby
1931 Hell Divers Graham – Pilot Reporting Missing Airplanes Uncredited
1931 The Guilty Generation Marco Ricca—aka John Smith
1932 The Wet Parade Kip Tarleton
1932 New Morals for Old Ralph Thomas
1932 Unashamed Dick Ogden
1932 Strange Interlude Gordon Evans (as a Young Man) Alternative title: Strange Interval
1932 The Kid from Spain Ricardo
1933 Men Must Fight Lt. Geoffrey Aiken
1933 Today We Live Claude
1933 Hell Below Lieutenant (JG) Ed "Brick" Walters
1933 Tugboat Annie Alexander "Alec" Brennan
1933 Saturday's Millions Jim Fowler
1933 The Right to Romance Bobby Preble
1934 Carolina Will Connelly
1934 Spitfire John Stafford
1934 The House of Rothschild Captain Fitzroy
1934 Lazy River William "Bill" Drexel
1934 Hollywood Party Himself, Radio Announcer Uncredited
1934 Whom the Gods Destroy Jack Forrester
1934 Paris Interlude Pat Wells
1934 Death on the Diamond Larry Kelly
1934 The Band Plays On Tony Ferrera
1934 La ciudad de cartón Himself
1935 West Point of the Air Little Mike Stone
1935 Vagabond Lady Tony Spear
1935 Calm Yourself Preston 'Pat' Patton
1935 Red Salute Uncle Sam
1935 Remember Last Night? Tony Milburn
1935 The Bride Comes Home Jack Bristow
1936 It's Love Again Peter Carlton
1936 The Three Wise Guys Joe Hatcher
1936 Secret Agent Robert Marvin
1936 The Bride Walks Out Hugh McKenzie
1936 Sworn Enemy Henry 'Hank' Sherman
1936 The Longest Night Charley Phelps
1936 Stowaway Tommy Randall
1937 Dangerous Number Henry 'Hank' Medhill
1937 I Met Him in Paris Gene Anders
1937 Married Before Breakfast Tom Wakefield
1937 The Emperor's Candlesticks Grand Duke Peter
1937 The Bride Wore Red Rudi Pal
1937 Navy Blue and Gold Roger "Rog" Ash
1938 Paradise for Three Fritz Hagedorn Alternative title: Romance for Three
1938 Three Comrades Gottfried Lenz
1938 Josette Pierre Brassard
1938 The Toy Wife Andre Vallaire
1938 Rich Man, Poor Girl Bill Harrison
1938 The Shining Hour David Linden
1939 Honolulu Brooks Mason / George Smith
1939 Bridal Suite Neil McGill
1939 Maisie Charles "Slim" Martin
1939 Miracles for Sale Michael "Mike" Morgan
1940 Northwest Passage Langdon Towne
1940 Florian Anton Erban
1940 The Mortal Storm Fritz Marberg
1940 Sporting Blood Myles Vanders
1940 Dr. Kildare's Crisis Douglas "Doug" Lamont
1941 Western Union Richard Blake
1941 The Trial of Mary Dugan Jimmy Blake
1941 Lady Be Good Edward "Eddie" Crane
1941 Married Bachelor Randolph Haven
1941 H. M. Pulham, Esq. Harry Moulton Pulham
1942 Joe Smith, American Joe Smith
1942 Cairo Homer Smith, aka Juniper Jones
1942 Journey for Margaret John Davis
1943 Claudia David Naughton
1943 Slightly Dangerous Bob Stuart
1943 Sweet Rosie O'Grady Sam MacKeever
1944 The Canterville Ghost Cuffy Williams
1945 The Enchanted Cottage Oliver Bradford
1945 Those Endearing Young Charms Lt. Hurley 'Hank' Travers
1946 Claudia and David David Naughton
1946 The Searching Wind Alex Hazen
1946 Lady Luck Larry Scott
1947 They Won't Believe Me Larry Ballentine
1947 Crossfire Finlay
1948 Relentless Nick Buckley
1948 Sitting Pretty Harry King
1949 Adventure in Baltimore Dr. Andrew Sheldon
1949 That Forsyte Woman Philip Bosinney Alternative title: The Forsyte Saga
1949 Bride for Sale Steve Adams
1949 And Baby Makes Three Vernon "Vern" Walsh
1950 The Second Woman Jeff Cohalan
1951 Goodbye, My Fancy Doctor James Merrill
1952 The Half-Breed Dan Craig
1954 The Big Moment Narrator
1954 Secret of the Incas Stanley Moorehead Final film
Year Title Role Notes
1954 Ford Television Theatre Tom Warren 1 episode
1954–1960 Father Knows Best Jim Anderson 203 episodes
1955 Climax! Lieutenant Commander Knowles 1 episode
1961 Window on Main Street Cameron Garrett Brooks 17 episodes
1965 Dr. Kildare Dr. Gilbert Winfield 1 episode
1965 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre: The Admiral Admiral Matt Callahan 1 episode
1968 The Name of the Game Herman Allison 1 episode
1969–1976 Marcus Welby, M.D. Dr. Marcus Welby 170 episodes
1972 All My Darling Daughters Judge Charles Raleigh Television film
1973 My Darling Daughters' Anniversary Judge Charles Raleigh Television film
1977 Father Knows Best Reunion Jim Anderson Television film
1977 Father Knows Best: Home for Christmas Jim Anderson Television film
1978 Little Women Grandpa James Lawrence Television film
1984 The Return of Marcus Welby, M.D. Dr. Marcus Welby Television film
1987 American Masters Edward "Eddie" Crane 1 episode
1987 Mercy or Murder? Roswell Gilbert Television film
1987 A Conspiracy of Love Joe Woldarski Television film
1988 Marcus Welby, M.D.: A Holiday Affair Dr. Marcus Welby Television film (final appearance)
Year Title Role Notes
1949–1954 Father Knows Best Jim Anderson
1943 Suspense Episode: "A Friend to Alexander"[8]
1946 Suspense Episode: "The Night Reveals"[9]
1952 Suspense Episode: "The Frameup"[10]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Film or series
1956 Emmy Award Nominated Best Actor – Continuing Performance Father Knows Best
1957 Won Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic Series Father Knows Best
1958 Won Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series Father Knows Best
1959 Nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Comedy Series Father Knows Best
1970 Won Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series Marcus Welby, M.D.
1971 Nominated Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Drama Vanished
Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series Marcus Welby, M.D.
1972 Nominated Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series Marcus Welby, M.D.
1970 Golden Globe Award Nominated Best TV Actor – Drama Marcus Welby, M.D.
1971 Best TV Actor – Drama Marcus Welby, M.D.
1972 Won Best TV Actor – Drama Marcus Welby, M.D.
1973 Nominated Best TV Actor – Drama Marcus Welby, M.D.
1974 Best TV Actor – Drama Marcus Welby, M.D.
2003 TV Land Award Nominated Classic TV Doctor of the Year Marcus Welby, M.D.


  1. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T.; Markoe, Arnie; Markoe, Karen (1998). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. Simon and Schuster. p. 645. ISBN 0-684-80663-0.
  2. ^ Newcomb, Horace (2004). Encyclopedia of Television (2 ed.). CRC Press. p. 856. ISBN 1-57958-411-X.
  3. ^ Pace, Eric (August 26, 1982). "Advertising; Last Cup of Sanka for Dr. Welby". The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  4. ^ Kazmin, Amy Louise (January 20, 1991). "Robert Young, 83, Attempted Suicide, Authorities Reveal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  5. ^ "A Safety Net in Peril: The State of Public Mental Health in the Quad-Cities" (PDF). January 13, 2018.
  6. ^ "'Marcus Welby' actor Robert Young dies". July 22, 1998. Archived from the original on October 2, 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Robert Young; Los Angeles Times Hollywood Star Walk Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  8. ^ Blackstone Audio 'Suspense' Vol. 2 issued 2015
  9. ^ Kirby, Walter. "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Open access icon
  10. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 23, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved May 21, 2015 – via Open access icon

Other sources

  • Eames, John Douglas (1986). The MGM Story. New York City: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-52389-2.
  • Gartside, Michael (2000–2001). Robert Young's British Films. Muscatine, IA: Films of the Golden Age.
  • Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York City: Crown Publishers.
  • Katz, Ephraim (1981). The Film Encyclopedia. New York City: Harper Perennial.
  • Shipman, David (1970). The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years. New York City: Bonanza Books.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 February 2024, at 18:16
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