"Adventure Is Where You Find It"
MGM Lion's Roar Spring 1947
A tall, lanky, bushy-haired boy in his ‘teens was swabbing the engine room deck. A tough engineer, veteran of many years at sea, barked an order. The youth dropped his mop, exchanging it for an oil can. Drying his hands on his stained dungarees he spent the next hour lubricating the noisy engine of the banana freighter.
That night the boy lay in his bunk, perspiring from the tropic heat. He stared for a long time at the ceiling two feet over his head. Finally he spoke – to himself.
“Wrong again,” he muttered, thus admitting that the sea was not nearly as adventurous as he had imagined when he signed on a month before. Just another of his ideas gone wrong. What looked like excitement one day always turned into routine the next.
When the slow-moving freighter docked again in New York, the first one down the gangplank was the bushy-haired swabby and oiler – adventure-seeking Robert Walker.
“It was one of many unsound ideas I had,” Walker later explained,“In those days I never could quite quench my thirst for excitement.”
Walker’s search for adventure began in kindergarten. A nondescript child, he felt un-noticed. Rebelling one day, he charged through a group of girls, yanking pigtails and shouting as loud as he could. He was punished but he tried it again the next day and the next. Finally he was “expelled.” He was just six.
At the age of ten, Bob began to answer the call of adventure by running away. Each time he was brought back home. Soon, however, he became an expert at stealing away and the length of his absences grew longer. He sold newspapers to get money for food.
“The last time I ran away I didn’t leave town,” Bob now recalls. “I persuaded the owner of a ballroom to let me sweep out the place for a small fee. He called my folks to check up. To my astonishment, they didn’t come after me. Instead, several days later a psychologist visited me, sent by my father. He easily convinced me that sweeping a ballroom was far from the adventure I sought.”
In an attempt to understand their son’s penchant for adventure and at the same time teach him discipline Bob’s parents sent him to California and the San Diego Military Academy. There for the first time he was reasonably content. Dramatics kept him interested. He won a statewide play tournament and an aunt agreed to finance him at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Bob went to New York and for a year studied faithfully. At the end of the term, however, the adventure-seeking youth signed with the Merchant Marine.
Reaching Hollywood Bob finally found the answer to his quest for excitement. As a soldier in one picture and an inventor in the next, Walker is at last finding adventure.
“I get to be all kinds of people doing all types of jobs,” Bob points out. “I’m a comedian, a sailor, a romanticist, a composer, a scientist. I’m Brock Brewton who is quick with his temper and quicker with his guns, in “The Sea of Grass.”
“Maybe,” he says, “all the time I was looking for adventure, I was just looking for Hollywood.”
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