BEHIND THE SCENES
by Alice Pardoe West
Ogden Standard Examiner
October 9, 1949
Back from a whirl in Hollywood!
Had a wonderful visit with Ogden’s own Robert Walker, who is deep in the groove with some pictures he likes. According to the raves at M-G-M on a sneak of his latest movie, “Please Believe Me,” Bob knew what he was doing when he sacrificed the lead with Deborah Kerr to take fourth place in the film. The smiles on the “big bosses” were generous when they left the viewing, knowing that they had made no mistake in making big plans for one of their favorite young stars.
Likes New Role
Bob is all hopped up about his next one, “The Skipper Surprised His Wife,” in which he plays the part of a young father who tries to run his home like the Navy, after his wife sprains her ankle and becomes incapacitated.
“It’s a good dialogue and lots of fun,” he said. “I’m not too young in this one. Just the age I like to play. A young father, like myself. I’ve grown up terribly these days and I like it that way.”
Betty Garrett plays the lead with him, and Vincente Minnelli will direct.
“It takes a good actress to play the part of the wife,” he said, “and Betty will do it well. She is a thinking actress and the part requires that. I think Betty is going to be a big star one of these days.” (Remember her in “ Neptune’s Daughter”?)
Enjoys His Home
We were sitting on the patio of his ranch home, looking at his beautifully terraced lawn which is studded with clusters of tall sycamore trees.
“That hill at the back will be a mass of brilliant red geraniums in a little while,” he said. “The boys and I have worked like troopers to get the place fixed the way we want it.”
Just one word about the boys, Bobby and Michael, and you really have Bob talking. His face beams.
“You wouldn’t know them, they’ve grown up so, “ he said, “just a couple of characters.” The boys were in school. They attend the Black Fox Military Academy. “They can really put on a boxing match for you and can practically outdo me in swimming and horseback riding,” he continued.
Bob’s home is located off the Palisades in a little valley off Sunset. At the entrance he has a sign in Spanish which means, “The Three String Bean Ranch.” It’s a rambling home with beamed ceiling in the living room, which has an immense white fireplace. Bob is taking meticulous care in furnishing it. He had two chairs with some material draped over them.
“How do you like that material?” he said. “I’m trying it out to see if it goes with the room enough to have two love seats made of it. This is a man’s house and the boys and I are furnishing it together. I want them to always remember a happy childhood and we’re really having fun.”
They Are Pals
Bob spends most of his time with his children when he is not working and they are not in school. They take long hikes together, do their planning, and in fact, are three pals.
Bobby is showing earmarks of an actor already and does that get a grin from his dad!
“He’s been putting on acts at school for the teacher,” he said, “and I got him to entertain Mike and me one night and nearly fell off my chair. We kid about our names on the marquees someday, “The Messrs. Walker, Sr. and Jr.” with Mike as the producer. Mike takes care of the money end of it.”
The proud father could not resist telling that Bobby also had won the Presidential medal at school for the best all around student, and that Mike was “working his head off” to get hundreds in his studies, so he can win it, too.
“They’re really serious-thinking boys for eight and nine,” he said laughing.
Wants to Write and Direct
Bob said he has been thinking seriously of writing and directing, as well as acting.
“I want to write and then direct my own stories,” he said. “To create the characters and see them come to life, to me, is the height of creative accomplishment.”
He admitted he had two stories already in his mind and has been reading extensively lately with an omniferous viewpoint.
“Take John Huston,” he said. “I think he’s wonderful. He writes beautifully and is one of Hollywood’s outstanding directors. He’s young, too.” Then he added, “I hope I have an opportunity to have him direct me in a picture someday. It means so much to get a director who is in perfect harmony with the actor, and they tell me, John’s that way.”
It was a poised and relaxed Robert Walker who spoke so freely of his boys and plans. He is in the pink of health.
“In planning my career,” he said, “I don’t particularly care what kind of parts I play, just so they give me something to work on. An actor’s got to have that. Right now I think the world needs comedy -- and I love to play it.”
In speaking of the good comedians, he said: “There’s a lot of good comedians, but I think Cary Grant tops them all. I admire his technique so much, that when I go to see him, I think, ‘now I’m going to see what makes him so good’ -- then I get so fascinated just watching him, that I forget all about seeing how he does it.”
He admitted that Robert Donat was his ideal as an actor. “If I could ever act as well as Donat,” he said, “I’d really think I had accomplished something.”
Hello to Home Folks
So Bob’s back in the groove with a brilliant future in front of him, and when our visit ended, one could see that he meant it enthusiastically when he said, “Give all my friends back home a personal ‘hello’ for me.”
Copyright Ogden Standard Examiner