Robert Taylor: Male Beauty, Masculinity, and Stardom in Hollywood

Robert Taylor has long been one of my favorite actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age. An accomplished actor, singer, and Hollywood idol, Taylor made his mark upon film history as a popular leading many in films an on television. While certainly popular as a studio star, today, Taylor is not discussed as frequently as some of his matinee idol counterparts.

At the height of his fame, Taylor had already carried out a wide range of roles. Though largely remembered as a leading man in romances and dramas, he had appeared in comedies, westerns, and even in musicals such as Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) and Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937). He also worked opposite many of Hollywood’s finest leading ladies, including Irene Dunne, Greta Garbo, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, and more.

In Robert Taylor: Male Beauty, Masculinity, and Stardom in Hollywood, author Gillian Kelly delves into the construction of Taylor’s screen persona across his lengthy career. In addition to discussing his noteworthy romantic roles in films such as Magnificent Obsession (1935), Camille (1936) and Waterloo Bridge (1940), to name a few, as well as his highly publicized marriage to–and divorce from–Barbara Stanwyck, Kelly grapples with the concepts of male beauty and masculinity in the film industry. She also examines how gender, looks, masculinity, and aging affected Taylor’s career in films.

Though the narrative focuses upon Taylor as its star player, it succeeds in linking Taylor’s story to larger concepts within working in the film industry and aptly explores Taylor’s niche in it. Fans of Taylor are sure to enjoy this examination of Taylor’s life and career.

Robert Taylor: Male Beauty, Masculinity, and Stardom in Hollywood is available for purchase through the University Press of Mississippi.

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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2 Responses to Robert Taylor: Male Beauty, Masculinity, and Stardom in Hollywood

  1. Linda Sandahl says:

    Extreme good looks were a double-edged sword in classic Hollywood; on the one hand, it opened up opportunities and led to contracts; on the other hand, it nearly always meant the actor or actress wasn’t taken as seriously as other actors. Greta Garbo is a major exception, I would think Fredric March. But actors like Taylor, Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Ava Gardner, among others, had to fight for respect.

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