Do you remember Dr. Marcus Welby? What about Jim Andersen from Father Knows Best? The genius actor behind these roles was Robert Young. He was one of America’s most versatile actors who managed to make a smooth transition from cinema to television.
But do you know about Robert Young’s humble beginnings and how he became a successful actor? Do you know what he thought about the film and television industries that he was an integral part of?
You’ll find that some of his views toward show business weren’t favorable. He also had many personal troubles that he had to overcome to maintain a successful career.
Join FactsVerse to learn about Robert Young’s incredible life and legacy and the inner demons that haunted him…
ROBERT’S EARLY LIFE
Robert George Young was born on February 22nd, 1907, in Chicago. As a young child, he and his family traveled around the United States and lived in different cities including Seattle and Los Angeles. At a young age, he developed an interest in acting and deciding to pursue a film career after graduating from high school.
He joined the Pasadena Playhouse where he acted in local plays and honed his acting skills. During this time, he worked several odd jobs to make ends meet. He also began taking any acting role he could get to get his foot into the door. He managed to snag quite a few bit parts in silent films.
His sound film debut came in the 1931 film Black Camel – part of the famous Charlie Chan series. After this film, he continued to get regular offers in films – Both “B” grade films and major Hollywood productions.
Most often, he played supporting roles, but he managed to become a well-known face among movie goers. While he may not have been the leading man, it was clear that he was a versatile actor whom audiences could resonate with.
Before we tell you more about Robert Young’s life and career and why she was forced to give up acting, please like this video and subscribe to FactsVerse for more interesting stories about pop culture and your favorite celebrities. Now, back to the video…
ROBERT’S FILM CAREER
While Robert Young was perhaps best known for his television career, he had a rich career in cinema that should be noted.
One of his earliest most notable roles was in the 1931 film The Sin of Madelon Claudet. He played the supporting role of Dr. Claudet in this dark and harrowing film. The film brought him to even more attention and showed that he had the ability to take on serious dramatic roles.
In 1932, he had one of his first major lead roles in the romantic drama film New Morals for Old. The film was based on the play ‘After All’ and told the story of a single mother struggling to raise her children. He was lauded for his role and this was one of the early successes that made him a welcoming face to American audiences.
The same year, he had a major role in the musical film The Kid from Spain. He acted alongside the hugely famous Eddie Cantor yet still managed to make a great impression among the audiences. This role showed that even when he had to act alongside a major star, that he could still hold his ground and steal the show.
In 1934, he played the lead role in the sports-related film The Band Plays On. He played Tony Ferrera – a coach who helps four boys change their lives through sports.
Robert Young continued to act regularly throughout the 1930s making several films each year until the end of the decade. Sometimes he managed to bag a lead role while other times he snagged a supporting role. However, no matter how big or small his role was he always won the praise of the audiences.
One thing that Robert Young managed to bring in his roles is a sense of familiarity that the average American wanted to see. Audiences wanted to see characters whom they could relate to and who could serve as an inspiration for them. Robert Young was the perfect actor for this.
Some of Robert Young’s other popular film roles including work in the following films:
- Dr. Kildare’s Crisis
- Lady be Good
- The Canterville Ghost
- Those Endearing Young Charms
- Sitting Pretty
- Goodbye, My Fancy and
- Secret of the Incas
Robert Young was arguably one of the best character actors from the 1930s to the 1950s. But his talents shone the most when he made the transition to television in the mid-1950s.
ROBERT’S TV CAREER
Robert Young’s first major TV role was as Jim Anderson in the sitcom Father Knows Best. He played this role in just over 200 episodes of the show. This is the show that made him a TV star and made him a familiar face in American homes.
He was the ‘father’ who Americans could relate to. He was the father who knew best and wanted the best for his daughters. Robert Young was the perfect actor for this role as he had experience winning over audiences with his various film roles. He had the persona to play a likeable character who Americans could look up to. Looking back now, it’s hard to imagine anyone else than Robert Young playing Jim Anderson.
Robert Young followed up with playing Cameron Barrett in the TV series Window on Main Street. He continued to make guest appearances on popular TV shows throughout the 1960s. He also had a major role in the mini-series Vanished as Senator Earl Gannon.
But he won the role of a lifetime when he was cast as Dr. Marcus Welby in Marcus Welby MD in 1969. He played the role of the doctor who helped his patients through his medical expertise and his sympathy in close to 200 episodes.
Marcus Welby became Robert Young’s most popular character after Jim Anderson. He made a few appearances as the character in a few TV movies as the good doctor. In fact, his final role was as Dr. Marcus Welby in the TV movie Marcus Welby MD: A Holiday Affair in 1988. He retired from acting after this role and retired from public life until his death a decade later.
Many actors struggle to make the transition from cinema to television. Very few manage to make an impact in multiple mediums. Robert Young was the perfect actor who managed to create relatable characters in both film and television. Whether he was the leading man or played a supporting role, he always managed to steal the show.
Over 30 years since his final television appearance, it’s clear that Robert Young is one of the greatest film and TV actors we’ve had. He’s left big shoes to fill – and it’s likely that no one will be able to fill them.
ROBERT’S LIFE AND LEGACY
Robert Young married Betty Henderson in 1933 and remained married to her until her death in 1994. With Betty, he had 4 daughters: Carol, Barbara, Kathy, and Betty Lou. His public image was one of a happy family man who had a successful acting career.
While this is true, his daughter Carol has spoken about the inner demons that haunted her father.
For several years, Robert Young struggled with depression. He would try to tackle his depression through drinking alcohol – and this, naturally, only led to further problems. He even attempted suicide in 1991 when he was in his 80s!
Luckily, he managed to overcome these inner demons and even decided to dedicate his life after his retirement to helping others overcome their depression. However, he largely retired from public life as he wanted very little to do with Hollywood.
He often spoke about the unfairness of Hollywood’s casting system and he seemed to have a general disdain for the industry. Despite his enormous success, he must have witnessed things behind the scenes that caused him to become jaded. Not much is known, at present, about his views on the television industry.
However, we can imagine that he enjoyed working in television a lot more. While he got into television during the second half of his career, it was in this medium that he truly flourished and it’s where many of us know him by. Despite his reservations about the industry, it’s clear that his love for acting never subsided – and for that we have to be thankful.
Robert Young passed away on July 21, 1998, due to respiratory failure at his home in California. He was 91 years old. He is survived by his four daughters who have discussed his troubles but also remember him fondly as a great father and actor. That’s certainly how his fans remember him.
He was one of America’s greatest character actors who had a successful career in film and television and had a theater background to help him prepare. Whether he was the star or only appeared in a few scenes, it was impossible to forget him. If you’ve never seen any of Robert Young’s performances, now’s the time to check out his work!
So, now let’s hear from you:
Are you a fan of Robert Young? Did you know about these inner demons that haunted him?
Here’s what we’d like to know from you:
Do you think that Dr. Marcus Welby was his best role?
Or is there another role of his that’s worthy of more attention?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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