Poor Old Henpecked Bob
That war couldn’t have come soon enough for some guys. Check out Bob Taylor acting all sad and wistful for the fan photographers on the eve of his departure for Naval service. I’m betting the guy never gave a better performance in his life. First off, note the nightclub still taken the week before Bob checked out on civilian life. No caption needed here. "Yes, dear", "No, dear", "Certainly… I’ll write every day, honey…" He probably had that palm print on his chin for the next two days after all the hectoring he got. So is he going to talk back to this woman he referred to as "the Queen"? Not likely. Look what happened to Fred MacMurray when he tried to talk back! And remember what she did to all those other guys --- Kirk Douglas in The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers, Tony Quinn in Blowing Wild, Eddie Robinson in The Violent Men --- men defied Barbara Stanwyck at their peril! So Bob’s no doubt sitting there quietly and thinking about how cool it’s going to be to get into one of those snappy uniforms (not to mention the bitchin’ leather jacket and scarf shown here) and head into that Wild Blue Yonder.
First things first. We gotta make this separation look good for the saps buying into the "perfect marriage" scenario dished out by the Metro flacks. These two stayed together twelve years, but it was turbulent. Bob was the outdoor type. Not Babs. She didn’t like his buddies hanging around the house, drinking beer, and gabbing about the fish they just caught. Bob was forever blowing the domestic sphere for hunting and camping ventures, a thing that nettled Stanwyck to no end, but after all, how could she and her rolling pin out-pace that wicked motorcycle? I like the shot with the telephone. It’s authentic in that Bob always refused to answer the thing when it rang, causing the wife to make a mad dash across the house for the receiver, even though he was sitting within an arm’s length. Bob always explained that Babs handled calls more efficiently because she "lies better" (it’s those intimate flatteries that make marriages work). This pose with the framed pictures baffles me a little. I mean, if they’ve been hanging there all along, why would Barbara pick this late date to conduct a gallery tour? And it’s just a horse. Bob’s got live ones out in the barn. Why fuss over this?
"The luxury of having his cigarette lighted for him will be but a memory for Bob when he begins training for the stiff routine of the Navy. He’s just another fighting American!" That’s the original caption, but Bob’s big Naval letdown lay in the fact that, being thirty-one, he was considered "too old" for combat, and besides, that civilian pilot’s license made him too valuable as an instructor (one of his plebes was a youthful Roy Fitzgerald, a.k.a. Rock Hudson!). His distaff fan following was a source of ongoing vexation for Bob --- one pair tag-teamed him in a hotel lobby and snipped off his Navy tie. As things turned out, it wasn’t the enemy that inspired battle fatigue --- it was fear of the wife back home. Seems Bob and another pilot were out doing some rolls in a training craft one day when he suddenly got the vapors. It wasn’t the upside-down flying that turned Bob’s stomach, but the fact that his cigarette lighter, a $300 gift from Babs, had fallen out of his shirt pocket and into the river below. The pilot friend laughed it off, but his mirth was leavened as a distraught Bob considered the punishment that would await him at home --- "You don’t know Barbara", said he with grim anticipation.
The flowering of Bad Bob took place after the war (see our previous Robert Taylor story about that) when cracks in the marriage awakened a wandering eye that fastened upon nubile co-stars like Ava Gardner and Eleanor Parker. Bob was even beginning to squawk about his film roles, again maintaining he was no actor. Louis Mayer got tired of that mantra one night at dinner and promptly dragged him into a projection room for a screening of Waterloo Bridge (Bob had never seen it!). Emerging from the show, Bob had to admit that maybe he was an okay actor after all. Well, we could have told you that, big guy! Stanwyck finally brought the connubial kettle to a boil when she showed up unexpectedly at the Italian location for 1951’s Quo Vadis, interrupting another of Bob’s casual assignations (he liked dining at the Italian girl buffets). When Barbara threatened divorce this time, Bob called her bluff. By the end of the year, they were split.