Robert Young: American actor (1907 - 1998) | Biography
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Robert Young
American actor

Robert Young

Robert Young
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor
Was Actor Film actor Television actor Stage actor
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 22 February 1907, Chicago, USA
Death 21 July 1998, Westlake Village, USA (aged 91 years)
Star sign Pisces
Politics Republican Party
Children: Kathy Young
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama 1972
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series 1970
The details (from wikipedia)


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).

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 MGM in the 1931 Charlie Chan film Black Camel.

Film career

Young appeared in over 100 films between 1931 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, and Helen Twelvetrees. 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 expired with MGM, Young starred in light comedies as well as trenchant 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 portrayal of unsympathetic characters in several of these later films—which was seldom the case in his MGM pictures—was applauded by numerous reviewers. 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 earlier begun an incremental and 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 several years later on a much smaller one.

Television career

Today, Young is most remembered as the affable insurance salesman in Father Knows Best (1949–1954 on radio, 1954–1960 on television), for which he and his co-star Jane Wyatt won several Emmy Awards. 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), which lasted barely six months.

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 the late 1980s, he also made numerous television commercials for Sanka coffee.

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. 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 Metro Area.

Young died of respiratory failure at his Westlake Village, California home on July 21, 1998, and is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.

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).

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Film or series
1979 BAFTA Award Won Best Specialised Film Twenty Times More Likely
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.


The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 07 Jun 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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