Robert Taylor, was born Spangler Arlington Brugh, in Filley, Nebraska on 5 August 1911. He was from a long line of family members who had served in the military. Both his Revolutionary War grandfather’s, George M. Spangler and Daniel Brugh fought in that war. Members of his Brugh family have served in every war since the Revolution, to include both sides of the civil war. Taylor’s father was a doctor and Taylor started out in college preparing to go to medical school, but switched to performing arts. He had a long and successful acting career. In 1940 while making the movie “Flight Command” about a naval pilot, he learned to fly for real, much to the chagrin of his first wife Ruby Stevens (also know as the actress Barbara Stanwyck), who hated to fly.
When the US entered WW II Taylor joined the Navy and became a pilot and a flight instructor. He used his acting and directing skills to make 17 naval training films. It has been noted that after WW II and his service in the military, Taylor’s acting roles took on a more serious side. It has been suggested the maturing factors of military life and the complex challenges of wartime service had a profound impact on Taylor. He was known to help fellow veteran’s working in Hollywood. Many of his roles in motion pictures after the war took on the personification of the “strong leader”, both in military films as well as Westerns and crime dramas in movies and on TV. He was married a second time to the German actress Ursula Theiss. They had two children; a son, Terrence Brugh (1955) and a daughter, Theresa Brugh (1959).
Taylor died of lung cancer two months prior to his 58th birthday, on 8 June 1969. He is interred at Forest Lawn cemetery, Glendale California in the Garden of Honor. “We buried another veteran today – it seems, all my life it has happened this way”
©Copyright January 14, 2004 by Van E. Harl