Walker, Jr.: His Tortured Past...His Magnificent Escape" by Penny Pence
TV & Movie Screen - March 1969
Walker, Jr. believes that all of life is generated through the surging
never-ending tidal cycle of the sea. Is is no wonder he feels so strongly
about the ocean, for it has been like a mythical sorceress in the lives of his
entire family for two generations."
small boy, young Bobby Walker would visit the Malibu Beach home of his
father, Robert Walker, Sr., the late actor popular in the 30's."
in hand the two would wander the lonely beach, talking in quiet tones
about the things that confront a father and son separated by a shattered
same stretch of sand, Walker, Sr. often walked in aimless depression
after his divorce from Jennifer Jones, Bobby's mother. The actor's death soon
after, mysterious in nature and tragically premature, left deep scars on the
soul of his young son."
thing seems certain: the spirit of the sea that dwelled within the actor
seems to haunt his entire family, casting an unnatural shadow around them even
now, so many years later."
months ago, Walker's ex-wife, Jennifer Jones, was dragged from the
crashing surf near Malibu, only moments before the surging waters almost
claimed her, too. The reasons for her suicide attempt were never revealed, but
were it not for the fast actions of a sheriff's deputy, her death-desire might
have been fulfilled."
time young Bobby Walker had established his own home not far down the Malibu
beach. There he lived with his young wife Ellie and their two blessed
and beautiful small children."
he wanted to stay, close to the sea and its pounding waves, close to its
promise of immortality."
Walker, Jr. is no longer the small boy who walked with his father on
the beach. He has grown tall, handsome and matured with the years. But the
marks of early tragedy within his family are still evident to anyone who meets
the young man."
a successful actor, as was his father. He has worked and studied in
many locations across the world. Those who have worked with him say he is a
good actor. But he is far from being a typical one."
in build, young Bob Walker is wrapped in tight sinewy muscles. His
hair hangs at his neck in untended curls. There is an Indian-style band about
his head, a leather bracelet gripping his upper arm."
constantly his piercing blue eyes flash to record any slight movement
around him. He seems aware of the most minute happening in the room."
conversation he avoids any mention of his parents. He never talks
about his father. He says nothing of his mother or his step-father, the late
David O. Selznick."
city folk," he says of them idly. "I just don't enjoy that life. I
drink. I don't smoke," he goes on. "What it does to the human body
just isn't worth it. I don't know why adults insist upon torturing their
bodies so badly. A child senses when something is harmful to his well-being.
That's why a child is repulsed by his first cigarette or his first taste of
liquor. The older we get, the further away from basic good sense we seem to
begin to realize that Bob Walker is as much a creature of nature as one
can possibly be in the 20th century."
wear shoes unless it's absolutely necessary. Once they wouldn't let
me on a plane without them on, so I had to borrow my agent's pair -- leaving
him in his stocking feet. And the shoes were miles too big."
I sit, I prefer to sit on the ground, it makes me feel much closer to the
process of nature."
years ago Bob would tell reporters that he shared a closeness with his
step-father that was similar to actual kinship. He said that his real father
had died when he, himself, was far too young to have collected any memories."
years, however, he has confided to close friends that the fondest
memories he holds of his youth are the long walks with his real father on the
beach near that late actor's home."
mentioned the deep depression into which the Senior Walker fell when
Jennifer married Selznick, the pallor that enshrouded the entire family despite
the promise of happiness that came at the time."
recent attempted suicide was undoubtedly a severe blow to her son.
It seemed to be the final shadow that caused the young man to throw up his
hands and surrender to the fears that have plagued his family for so many
as I can get my finanical affairs in order, the whole family and I are
sailing to the South Seas. We'll live on the boat, put in only at small
obscure islands -- just learn to live off the water and the land."
and plans are already underway for the day when Bob, Ellie, their two
children -- and the baby Ellie is now expecting will board the 45-foot sloop
and leave what Bob considers an automated society."
will be taught to fish and hunt. They'll learn to read the stars
and plan by the wind."
dream of utopia leads one to wonder whether the young actor actually
seeks to isolate his loved ones from the influences that battered his own
family. Or whether he, himself, is still running from the ghosts that have
haunted him since early childhood."
as a schoolboy he was nagged by the desire to quit school, to set out
away from the institution. When he finally broke the bonds, he roamed Europe,
looking, seeing, learning, searching -- running."
cars. He played the drums in the night spots of Italy. Ultimately
he wandered back to New York City."
he hoped to write screenplays. There, too, he enrolled in drama
classes. Perhaps the most significant thing to happen to the young adventurer
was his meeting a pretty blonde dance student, Ellie Wood."
"When they married she helped to change his whole outlook."
don't know what direction my life would have taken if it hadn't
been for Ellie and the kids," he admits today "I never plan anything at all
without taking them into consideration above everything else."
the reason why I want to live on the boat in the South Seas. I really
don't know if I would want to do it if I didn't have them."
an actor because it's the best way I know of to make a living for my
family. In general, though, I hate the necessity of working just for money."
believes that you make your own fate; that there is no universe outside of
your own field of perception."
to surround his children with a field of perception that is
completely natural by taking them to live on the sea. It may be because he
believes that God is really found in the processes of nature and that He is
present in every small creature inhabiting the ocean's floor -- in every leaf
of every tree."
in the shadow of a heavily laden tree, Bob points to his own bare
chest and admits, "He's present in you and me, too."
is no question about the fact that he is a definite fugitive from
society and its materialistic aspects, the same materialistic things that as a
child, he saw too much of."
the questions still remains -- is Robert Walker, Jr. only protecting his
children from those things that ultimately robbed him, as a child, of love and
the spirit that haunted his father, that nearly claimed his mother, in
his own heart? Is that the reason he seeks to find comfort and solace in the
omnipotence of the sea?"