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Robert Young

Best known for his leading roles as Jim Anderson, the father character in Father Knows Best, and the physician Marcus Welby in Marcus Welby, M.D. even though he had a movie career that spanned over 20 years.

Robert Young 1930's - by Tanner (MGM).



The Black Camel

The Sin of Madelon Claudet

The Guilty Generation



Hell Divers

The Wet Parade

The Kid from Spain

New Morals for Old

Strange Interlude



Men Must Fight

Today We Live

Hell Below

Tugboat Annie

The Right to Romance



Death on the Diamond

The House of Rothschild


Lazy River

Paris Interlude



West Point of the Air

Red Salute

The Bride Comes Home



It’s Love Again

Secret Agent


The Bride Walks Out



I Met Him in Paris

The Emperor’s Candlesticks

The Bride Wore Red

Navy Blue and Gold

Dangerous Number



Paradise for Three

Three Comrades

The Toy Wife

The Shining Hour


Rich Man, Poor Girl





Miracles for Sale

Bridal Suite



Northwest Passage


The Mortal Storm



Western Union

Lady Be Good

Journey for Margaret

H. M. Pulham, Esq.

Married Bachelor






Slightly Dangerous

Sweet Rosie O’Grady



The Canterville Ghost



The Enchanted Cottage

Those Endearing Young Charms



Lady Luck



They Won’t Believe Me




Sitting Pretty




That Forsyte Woman

And Baby Makes Three

Bride for Sale

Adventure in Baltimore



The Second Woman



Goodbye, My Fancy



The Half-Breed



Secret of the Incas


Robert Young was never nominated for an Academy Award.

[on his favorite role: ‘The Enchanted Cottage’] The role symbolized my own life, though I wasn’t a veteran who returned from war tragically disfigured. It demonstrated my theory that we are all, somehow, handicapped. Shyness and fear of people were my invisible scars. These were finally overcome, just as in the movie, because of the love of a woman who saw the ‘perfect man’ through all the imperfections. ~ Robert Young

Robert Young was born Robert George Young on February 22, 1907 in Chicago. When Young was young, the family moved to different locations within the U.S.: Seattle, followed by Los Angeles, where Young became a student at Abraham Lincoln High School. After graduation, he studied and performed at the Pasadena Playhouse while working at 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 with whom he subsequently signed a contract. Young made his sound film debut for MGM in the 1931 Charlie Chan film, Black Camel.

Young appeared in over 100 films between 1931 and 1952. After appearing on stage, Young was signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and, despite 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 B movies, also known as “programmers,” which required two to three weeks of shooting (considered very brief shooting periods at the time). Actors who were relegated to such a hectic schedule appeared, as Young did, in some six to eight movies per year.

As an MGM contract player, Young was resigned to the fate of most of his colleagues—to accept any film assigned to him or risk being placed on suspension—and many actors 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 for two films; the first was directed by Alfred Hitchcock with the other co-starring Jessie Matthews. While there he surmised that his employers 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., featuring 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 ended at MGM, Young starred in light comedies as well as in dramas for studios such as 20th Century Fox, United Artists, and RKO Radio Pictures. From 1943, Young assayed 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.

Young’s career began an incremental and imperceptible decline, despite a propitious beginning as a freelance actor without the nurturing of a major studio. He continued starring as a leading man in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but only in mediocre films, then he subsequently disappeared from the silver screen – only to reappear several years later on a much smaller screen.

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 Young an Emmy for best leading actor in a drama series.

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

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 two 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 was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.

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