Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Art and Madness Series 4 Actors

Robert Young Feb.22,1907-July 21,1998

Robert Young

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 characters who were charming, good looking and bland as ever. 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' in 1931. He had some note as the spy in Hitchcock's 'Secret Agent' in 1936, but it would be in the forties before he would have some of his best roles. Some of them were 'Northwest Passage (1940)'; 'Western Union (1941)'; and 'H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941)'. Good roles followed from the husband of Dorothy McGuire in 'Claudia (1943)' to the detective in 'Crossfire (1947), but the good roles were few.

"All those years at MGM I hid a black terror behind a cheerful face."

In 1949, Robert started a radio show called "Father Knows Best" where he played Jim Anderson, an average father with average situations - which was tailor made for him. Basically retiring from films, this program ran 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 would be a mainstay of television until it was cancelled in 1960. He would continue making guest appearances on various television shows and work in television movies. In 1969, he starred as Dr. Marcus Welby in the TV movie "Marcus Welby, M.D.". This show would become his new series and run from 1969 through 1976 and also feature James Brolin as his assistant, Dr. Steven Kiley - the doc with the bike. Originating his "Father Knows Best" role on radio, he was the only member of the radio cast to transfer his role to TV. After that, Robert, who by now was in his seventies, would finally lick the 30 year battle that he had with alcohol. He would occasionally appear in television movies through the eighties. In 1991, Robert Young, attempted suicide due to alcoholism and depression.

"All those years at MGM I hid a black terror behind a cheerful face."~Robert Young

Robert Young met his wife, Elizabeth Louise Henderson (1933-1994) when he was 17 and she was 14. They met in high school and had four daughters.

Lillian Roth 1910-1980

Tragic songstress Lillian Roth, born in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 13, 1910, was given her first name in honor of singer Lillian Russell. She was the daughter of daunting stage parents who groomed her and younger sister Anne for stardom at an early age. The girls did not disappoint. In 1916, Lillian moved with her family to New York City where the youngsters found work as extras in films. Lillian's precocious talent was picked up on quickly and at age six made her Broadway Debut in "The Inner Man." All the while the girls trained at the Professional Children's School. They became billed as Broadways "Youngest Stars" after putting together a successful vadeville tour billed as "The Roth Kids."In this act Lillian did serious dramatic impersonations of famous stars of the day with Anna delivering amusing satires of Lillian's readings. Lillian's vocal talents also impressed and she was cast in the show "Artists and Models" at age 15. Shy by nature, the ever-increasing thrust into the limelight caused Lillian to develop severe nervous disorders, but somehow she persevered.

Lillian and Anna

"My life was never my own. It was charted before I was born."~ Lillian Roth

The sudden death of her fiancé in the early 30s drove Lillian over the brink. She found liquor to be a calming sensation, which led to a full-scale addiction. Marriages, one to renown Municipal Court Justice Benjamin Shalleck, came and went at a steady pace. There would be eight in all. Her career self-destructed as she spiraled further and further into alcoholic oblivion and delirium. Decades would be spent in and out of mental institutions until she met and married T. Burt McGuire, Jr., a former alcoholic in the late 40s. With his support, Lillian slowly revived her career with club work. She became a singing sensation again and toured throughout the world, receiving ecstatic reviews wherever she went.

Lillian's daring autobiography, "I'll Cry Tomorrow" was published in 1954 and topped The New York Times Best Sellers List. She left out few details of her sordid past and battle with substance abuse. She would become the first celebrity to associate her name with Alcoholics Anonymous, putting a well-known face on the disease (as Rock Hudson would later do for AIDS, albeit less willingly) while doing her part in helping to remove the social stigma.

A bold, no-holds-barred film adaptation of Lillian's book followed. Susan Hayward's gutsy portrayal of Lillian won her a fourth Oscar nomination. Lillian herself would return to films in her twilight years but only in small roles and to minor fanfare. A beautiful and touching vocalist and actress, she put her own wonderful spin on such vintage songs as "When the Red, Red Robin," "I Wish I Had My Old Gal Back Again" and "Eadie Was a Lady." Lillian overcame unimaginable odds and somehow lived to tell about it. She passed away in 1980 at 69 of a stroke.

I have a question...Anyone out there beside me having difficulties with Blogger? Or is it just me? This post has taken me two hours to post..grr!

Also I would like to thank everyone that stops by! This site is part of my treatment to help me control my Bipolar illness. It truly does help me, and if it helps anyone else then it's all the better!

N Posted by Rain at 6/06/2006 12:24:00 AM


  • Blogger TECH posted at 8:22 AM  
    Blogger is being mean these past few days. :(
  • Blogger Restless Angel posted at 1:20 PM  
    I remember watching reruns of Father Knows Best when I was really young on Nick at Nite..... of course, that's about all I remember about it! Thank you for inviting me to keep reading here! Take care!!
  • Blogger Garry posted at 5:39 PM  
    I'm also having troublw with blogger, so you're not alone. Love your site, keep it up!
  • Blogger jules posted at 6:00 PM  
    I think Blogger must be bipolar as well.
  • Blogger The Fat Lady Sings posted at 10:22 PM  
    I actually have a copy of The Black Camel on DVD. It's part of my Charlie Chan collection. Young is, well - young. Young and quite callow, actually. But you can see the beginnings of that easy, breezy style that marked his later work. And I appreciate the bio on Lillian Roth. She was a wonderful singer. I have collections of a cross-section of early 20th century singers - especially that of artists who were popular in the teens and 20's. My father was a musician back then - he played the banjo, a very popular instrument way back then.

    Sorry to hear you are fighting bi-polar disease. I'm glad you seem to have found the perfect outlet. And Blogger has been giving me fits for days – so you are definitely not alone! I really do love your blog, my dear. It is quite unique.
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