Robert Taylor (August 5, 1911 – June 8, 1969) was an American film and television actor who was one of the most popular leading men of his time.
Taylor began his career in films in 1934 when he signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He won his first leading role the following year in Magnificent Obsession. His popularity increased during the late 1930s and 1940s with appearances in A Yank at Oxford (1938), Waterloo Bridge (1940), and Bataan (1943).
During World War II, he served in the United States Naval Air Corps, where he worked as a flight instructor and appeared in instructional films.
From 1959 to 1962, he starred in the ABC series The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor. In 1966, he took over hosting duties from his friend Ronald Reagan on the series Death Valley Days.
Taylor was married to actress Barbara Stanwyck from 1939 to 1951. He married actress Ursula Thiess in 1954, and they had two children.
A chain smoker, Taylor was diagnosed with lung cancer in October 1968. He died of the disease in June 1969 at the age of 57.
In October 1968, Taylor underwent surgery to remove a portion of his right lung after doctors suspected that he had contracted coccidioidomycosis (known as "valley fever"). During the surgery, doctors discovered that he had lung cancer. Taylor, who had smoked three packs of cigarettes a day since he was a boy, quit smoking shortly before undergoing surgery. During the final months of his life, he was hospitalized seven times due to infections and complications related to the disease. He died of lung cancer on June 8, 1969, at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Taylor's funeral was held on June 11 at the Church of Recessional at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Glendale, California. Long-time friend Ronald Reagan (who was then the governor of California) eulogized Taylor. Among the mourners were Robert Stack, Van Heflin, Eva Marie Saint, Walter Pidgeon, Keenan Wynn, and Taylor's ex-wife Barbara Stanwyck.