(Movie Stars Parade, November 1943)

Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones

1942-1945 Two Rising Stars - Hollywood

“It was Bob who broke up the home at Sands Point, stored the furniture, packed off the boys and the nurse, made the inventories, cleaned up the odds and ends. He knew he couldn’t stick in New York with his family 3,000 miles away.”25

“After seeing her off to the Coast, he was seized by an inexplicable feeling of melancholy. He attributed it to loneliness. He later insisted he had no foreboding that this temporary farewell was, in fact, the beginning of the end.”26

Bob’s agent, Marcella Knapp, arranged a screen test in New York for the role of the young sailor, Leonard Purkett, in MGM’s “Bataan” starring Robert Taylor. “Bob breezed through his test, projecting an irresistible combination of cockiness and wistful charm. Within a week Marcella Knapp informed him that MGM wanted to sign him.”27

“Bob arrived in Beverly Hills the week before Christmas and he and Jennifer scurried around to give the boys a real Christmas with a tree, toys, candy canes – everything they would have had back east.

They saved their gala New Year’s celebration, as was their custom, for January 2, which now marked the fifth anniversary of their meeting and their fourth wedding anniversary. Bob made reservations for the best table at the most expensive restaurant in Beverly Hills. For three hours they forgot about their careers, their babies, everything – except how wonderful it was to be back together for good.

The Robert Walker Family 1943

Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones

Bob had no presentiment that this would be the last Christmas holiday and the last wedding anniversary they would ever spend together.”28

Robert Walker with Bobby and Michael (Screen Guide- October 1946)

Bob’s film career began with “Bataan” which was directed by Tay Garnett. “Later Garnett would say of Bob: ‘I admired him deeply. He was a talented, sensitive, fey guy who combined the comic abilities of Jack Lemmon and Bob Montgomery with a heart-grabbing little-boy-lost appeal.’”29

Robert in "Bataan"

A later interviewer said, “Bob will confess to you naively that he once had exceedingly slender hopes of accomplishing anything in the theater or the movies. His eyes are very weak, and he can scarcely see without the aid of powerful lenses, certainly a handicap before the camera. In an outdoors sequence of ‘Bataan,’ I once watched him running pellmell down the side of a hill with a lot of other players and extras and I give you my word he crashed into every tree on the way down.”30

Perhaps the most memorable scene in the film is as described here: “As an attention grabber, Garnett had Bob chew gum throughout the action, and during the last few minutes of the film, the wounded gob would compose a letter to his mom awash with such pathos that there was barely a dry eye on the set when the scene, played with Bob Taylor, was completed.

Taylor did everything possible to support Bob in front of and away from the cameras, and cognizant of the value of publicity to a newcomer, encouraged still photographers to shoot candids of them together which could be planted in newspapers or magazines.

Walker, who usually avoided superlatives, openly admitted that ‘Bob Taylor is the swellest person I’ve ever met. He’s made everything so easy for me.’”31

“Needless to say the sneak preview of ‘Bataan’ only confirmed the opinion of the executives of the studio, who had run it earlier in a projection room of MGM. When young Bob Walker came on the screen, one producer nudged another – and the nudges went right down the row, with elation at the discovery of a new star. Louis B. Mayer had done it again! Bob Walker was a natural. As for the preview cards, they were ninety percent raves for Bob W.”32

After Bob’s success in “Bataan”, MGM immediately rushed him into “Madame Curie”. “He felt uncomfortable in the period piece, and neither Greer Garson or Walter Pidgeon treated him like one of the family or invited him to lunch at the commissary. Nevertheless, he managed to be ingratiating in a thankless role, and director Mervyn LeRoy insists, ‘He did not seem troubled in those days at all.’”33

“Madame Curie” set

“During those early months at Metro, it was obvious that everyone on the lot was charmed and impressed by Bob and considered him a valuable asset to the studio – unassuming, untemperamental, serious and professional when the cameras were rolling, witty and ingratiating during the breaks. No one could fault him either as a person or as an actor. The studio knew it had a winner and intended to make the most of it.”34

While still filming “Madame Curie”, Bob was given a new 7-year contract and a substantial increase in salary. Then he was handed the best-selling book "“See Here, Private Hargrove”, the true life hilarious tales of Marion Hargrove’s military training. Eddie Mannix told him he would get star billing in the movie and asked Bob if he had any questions.

“Naively Bob blurted, ‘Do I look like Hargrove?’ Mannix laughed, ‘Of course not, but you look the way Hargrove should look. When this picture is released, they’ll think Marion is the imposter.’”35

Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones

Excited about his new assignment, Bob impatiently rode his motorcycle to visit Jennifer on the set where she was filming “Bernadette”. He requested a pass from the guard at the gate and identified himself as Jennifer’s husband, Robert Walker. The guard phoned the main office, then abruptly told Bob it was a closed set and no one was allowed in. He was informed Miss Jones could not be disturbed and was asked to leave. As he was reversing his motorcycle, the guard passed through without question an expensive car carrying David O. Selznick. “Oh, well, Bob remembered thinking, his brother-in-law runs the studio. It had happened so quickly that he didn’t have a chance to call out to Selznick to enlist his help. Later he’d admit that he failed to put two and two together. ‘I guess I didn’t recognize the signals. I thought he had business on the lot. It never occurred to me that he might be visiting Jennifer.’”36

“After tucking his sons into bed, Bob occupied his time browsing through ‘Hargrove’. Although he’d been depressed by his rejection at Twentieth, he found himself roaring with laughter and confident that Americans, surfeited on gloomy reports from the battlefronts and by downbeat blood-and-guts war films, would find it a delightful diversion. His only challenge would be to make the character appealing and amusing without resorting to buffoonery.”37

Robert and Donna Reed, "See Here, Private Hargrove"

Within a week of finishing his scenes in “Madame Curie”, Bob reported for work on “See Here, Private Hargrove”. One of his co-stars, who would become a good friend, was Keenan Wynn. “Keenan remembers: ‘I had first met Bob (and his wife, Phyl) when we were involved in radio work in New York, but we had not socialized then – we were merely very casual acquaintances. It wasn’t until I met them again on the West Coast that I really got to know them well, when Bob and I were both in ‘See Here, Private Hargrove’. We discovered that we worked very well as a team, and that bound us together. Comically, I’d say we tore the screen apart in ‘Hargrove,’ there wasn’t a dull moment on the set or off. He had a great sense of fun, would guffaw at some of my antics, then would come up with something unexpected designed to break me up. It was a happy set, and I got to love the guy. He was a very good actor even then – and totally unpretentious.’”38

“See Here, Private Hargrove” proved to be a big hit for Robert Walker, and a big hit with his sons as well. “Even Bob’s boys, Bobby, 5, and Michael, 4, take their dad’s picture parts completely straight. Bob’s parents-in-law took the two young hopefuls to see ‘See Here, Private Hargrove’, and the next time Bob saw the kids they checked right up on him. ‘I said hello to you and you didn’t say hello back to me,’ complained Bobby. ‘You got on the train and went to New York, didn’t you?’ asked Mike. ‘Did you have a good time?’”39

Also impressed was Alyce Canfield of “Screenland” magazine. “I went to ‘Hargrove’ expecting a laugh. I got it. I almost split my seams rocking with laughter during the water sequences, in the ‘little corporal’ scenes. But then, at the end, something happened. All at once it wasn’t Hargrove up there; it was all the privates in the United States Army. And when the train pulled out, with Hargrove aboard, when he realized he wanted to BE aboard and not in some office sitting out the Big Show, a great message got across to me – without benefit of the customary speech-making. The message was in the expression on Robert Walker’s face.

That one scene lifted ‘See Here, Private Hargrove’ from slapstick to immortality, made it one of the things that will last and be forever identified with the spirit of this war, as was ‘Over There’ and ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ in the last.

It wasn’t the script, or the story, that lent this touch of immortality; it was Robert Walker, himself. For a moment, up there on the screen, he was all men of all time. Gallantry and hope, courage and enthusiasm were there, and I felt like getting to my feet and cheering. Only I couldn’t; I had a lump in my throat.”40

At about this same time, David Selznick, interested in filming a story portraying life on the American home front during World War II, bought the book “Since You Went Away – Letters to a Soldier from His Wife” and brought its author, Margaret Buell Wilder, to Hollywood. He personally wrote the screenplay and had earmarked the part of Jane, the older daughter, for his protegee, Jennifer Jones. Cast as Anne Hilton, the mother, was Claudette Colbert, and Shirley Temple was brought out of retirement to portray the younger daughter, Bridget (Brig). Stock player Joseph Cotton was tapped to play Tony

Robert and Jennifer, "Since You Went Away"

Willett, the bachelor friend of the family. Robert Walker was chosen to play Jane’s love interest.

“Over the years there have been many theories regarding Selznick’s casting of Robert Walker as Corporal William Smollett III. It’s been said that Jennifer suggested it; that Selznick wanted to put an end to the whispers that he had more than a professional interest in Jennifer; that Selznick, aware of the smash Bob had been making at MGM and annoyed with himself for not signing him when the idea first occurred to him, was determined at least to have him in one of his pictures. There have been other theories of a darker nature – that Selznick, increasingly obsessed with Jones, wanted to show both her and Walker how much power he held over them. At least some justification for that theory appeared to come out during the filming of that movie.”41

Bob was thrilled, at the time, for the chance to appear with his wife on film. “Even though her reaction to the prospect of playing lovers in ‘Since You Went Away’ had not been the spontaneous excitement he’d expected, he was still too confident of her love to be able to see the ominous signals.”42

Production began on “Since You Went Away” on September 8, 1943. Jennifer became increasingly aloof and worried about her ability to play the role of a young high school girl. Bob tried to reassure her that she’d be wonderful in the part, but she would not listen. “As the days went on, however, Jennifer’s anxiety intensified. She became upset over everything. Bob still refused to recognize the fact that she was changing, that she had already changed.”43

During this time, they went to a party together but left early. After arriving home, Jennifer told Bob she wanted a separation – there was no mention of divorce.

“Ever since his career had begun, Bob Walker had never been known to get drunk, never been known to get violent. But now his world had ended. He’d thought he’d never be unwanted again, that the love of this beautiful young woman would always be his. But now everything that had seemed permanent and true had been suddenly destroyed.

The next morning, after breakfasting with his sons, Bob packed a small bag and a bottle of Scotch and checked into a hotel, where he proceeded to become smashed.”44

What had once seemed like a dream come true – doing a picture with Jennifer – now became a nightmare for Bob. “Keenan Wynn, also on loan from MGM, says sadly, ‘That’s when Bob began to change, during the making of ‘Since You Went Away’. Close friends like me could see the difference in him. The happy-go-lucky guy I’d worked with was transformed overnight into a morose and melancholy shadow of his former self. The film was emotionally disastrous for him. Did Selznick do what he did maliciously? I don’t know. But it was heartless to bring Bob together with his estranged wife for intimate love scenes. It was almost as if Selznick were saying, ‘She’s my girl now – not yours.’ Was this deliberate? Or was the man just too insensitive to realize the damage he was inflicting? Who knows? But I could see how badly this affected Bob. He was an especially sensitive guy.

Screenwriter Dewitt Bodeen, who co-wrote the screenplays for ‘Cat People’, ‘The Enchanted Cottage’, and ‘I Remember Mama’, has been less tactful then Keenan, remembering, ‘I was on the Selznick lot a good deal when he was shooting ‘Since You Went Away’. Selznick could not stay away from the set whenever a scene between Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker was shot. He apparently loved to watch Miss Jones and Bob make love for the camera, even though they were separated. It must have satisfied a masochistic urge on his part to see the two of them kiss and embrace. I was a little surprised that Bob didn’t walk out. As for Selznick, he wanted Walker for the part and no one but Walker.

It was too damn bad, really tragic, that Selznick had to break them up; however, I guess the stardom and loot he offered her were irresistible. But my heart went out to that boy. He was so obviously in love with the woman and she was so patently rejecting him. I think everyone connected with ‘Since You Went Away’ was on his side, but no one dared to say a word. Jennifer was unapproachable.’”45

The final farewell scene at the train station between Jane and Bill, the characters portrayed by Jennifer and Bob, would prove to be the most touching in the film. “Jane gives Bill her class ring, and he, as the train starts moving, gives her his valued watch to keep until his return. The last words Jane calls out to Bill as his train slowly pulls away are ‘Good-bye, darling, I love you. Good-bye, darling.’ His last words to her are ‘Good-bye, darling.’ The words were written by David Selznick.”46

Bob had been scheduled to star as Judy Garland’s “boy next door” in the nostalgic film “Meet Me in St. Louis”. However, he was summoned to Louis B. Mayer’s office and, over Garland’s protests, yanked from the film. The studio had decided to cast Tom Drake in the role instead. “Mayer’s explanation for the switch was tactful, perhaps even truthful. Such a part would be a step forward for Drake, but a step backward for Bob, especially after ‘Hargrove’. MGM was due to go into production with a major war film, ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo’, with Spencer Tracy as the real-life Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle, the man who had executed the first raid on the Japanese capital in April 1942, with Van Johnson cast as pilot Ted Lawson. Bob would appear as the actual Sergeant Dave Thatcher, the navigator of the lead bomber.”47

After telling Bob the plans for his role in “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”, Mayer brought up the subject of the Walker’s marriage.

“It hasn’t changed,’ Bob said sullenly. ‘We’re separated. I don’t want a divorce. If my wife does, I won’t stand in her way as long as I can continue seeing my sons.’”48

Christmas, 1943, was approaching, and Bob was in anything but a festive mood. “If Christmas was agony for Bob, New Year’s Day and January 2 were sheer hell. Again, he spent the latter, which happened also to be the fifth anniversary of his marriage, alone and brooding about his personal future. By now he was aware of Jennifer’s plans: she intended to wait until after the Oscar ceremonies and then quietly initiate proceedings for a divorce.”49

In early February, 1944, Bob left for Florida for location shooting for “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”. During the filming of the movie, Bob was to meet the real-life David Thatcher who was now a Staff Sergeant.

Robert Walker with "real-life" Sergeant David Thatcher

“Then, one afternoon, Director Mervyn LeRoy brought a young soldier over to Walker’s dressing room on the stage.

‘Bob, here’s a boy I think you’ve been waiting for. Meet Sergeant Dave Thatcher.’

It was when the handshakes and how-do-you-do’s were over that the lull came; the kind that always occurs when two shy young men, both bursting inwardly with things they’re dying to talk about, meet. It was Thatcher who finally broke the silence.

‘I’ve a big favor to ask,’ he blurted. ‘Tomorrow night there’s a radio program – a re-enactment of part of the raid and I have to act in it. I’m scared to death and wondered if you’d help me with the script?’

‘You mean,’ gasped Bob, ‘that you want me to help you be you?’

‘I sure do,’ said Thatcher, ‘after watching that last scene of yours I’m convinced you’re a better me than I am!’

From then on, it was a cinch. They gabbed together all afternoon. It was hard to tell which one asked the most questions but they found out everything they wanted to know.”50

However, Bob was disappointed in his role in the movie since it basically was a film to showcase the popular Van Johnson, and Bob had no blockbuster scenes. In spite of this, director Mervyn LeRoy had nothing but praise for Robert Walker.

“He was really a great boy. One of the sweetest things about Bob is what he’d do for others. His stand-in was a fellow about fifty, who still carried shrapnel in his leg and elbow from World War I. He had a hard time getting enough work. Bob went to the front office and asked for a contract for him. Bob never barged in to ask for favors for himself. But the stand-in, whose wife was expecting a baby, was given a steady job. Bob had a great heart.”51

Bob did not find it easy to strike up a friendship with Van Johnson during filming. “’Looking back, Van says regretfully, ‘I never really got to know him during the making of ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo’. None of us really got to know him during that film. He was often very remote. It broke your heart to see the guy. Our one major scene together took place in a Chinese hospital after the bombing, when the rest of the surviving crew were being evacuated, and I had to remain behind because my leg had been amputated. The crewman Bob played insists on staying with me, but I force him to leave with the rest. It was a very moving scene, and he played it beautifully. But we didn’t lunch together even once during the shooting, really had no social contact afterward other than at publicity parties arranged by fan magazines. We’d nod or wave to one another on the lot, but that was the extent of our relationship. I suppose we were both preoccupied with our own lives. I don’t, however, recall his being difficult during the filming – just lost in a world of his own.’”52

Robert Walker and Van Johnson

Bob did become friendly with Phyllis Thaxter, however, who was making her screen debut as Van Johnson’s wife in the movie. She would also appear with Bob in the Hepburn-Tracy film “Sea of Grass”. Phyllis had this to say of Bob:

“’Bob and I continued to date for a while. We’d go to Ciro’s (the in nightclub) or to the Players or to someone’s home for dinner.

Wherever we went, he never stopped talking about Jennifer – never anything derogatory; he just couldn’t keep her name off his lips. He was very charming, but we were never serious, just having fun.’

During their brief dating period, Bob made no secret of his fondness for Miss Thaxter. ‘She’s a sweet girl, a very nice, intelligent young lady and good company.’

Phyllis also possessed an incandescent beauty, a warm and sympathetic personality, and tremendous charm. Although she took her career seriously, it didn’t dominate her life. Had Bob met her at any other time, their relationship might have developed into a lasting one. He couldn’t get Jennifer out of his mind or off his lips, however – a circumstance which negated any chance of his becoming romantically involved with another woman.”53

Phyllis Thaxter and Van Johnson

“Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” proved to be another success for Robert Walker. As he explained: “Uniforms, whether soldier’s or sailor’s, have been lucky for me,’ says Bob. ‘Bataan’ was such a break that when I started my role in ‘See Here, Private Hargrove’, I was afraid my luck might change, so under the Army uniform, I wore the Navy dog tags I had worn in ‘Bataan’.

Walker’s portrayal of the typical Army private was a memorable one, so obviously the charm hadn’t failed. Next, Bob donned khaki again for ‘Since You Went Away.’ Then came ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo’, in which his screen rank was boosted a notch when he portrayed Corporal Thatcher.

Bob’s next role will be opposite singing star Judy Garland in her first straight dramatic part. It will be a poignant love story, ‘The Clock’, which was adapted for the screen by one of America’s foremost authors, Robert Nathan. Again Bob will wear an Army uniform as Corporal Joe Allen, who comes to New York on a forty-eight hour furlough, to find romance with a girl he meets under the clock in Pennsylvania Station.

Thus Bob’s saga in khaki has not yet ended and his career continues to soar with every new role. He’s still unsure and bewildered enough to attribute most of it to luck. Proof of this came, when, called in for wardrobe fittings for ‘The Clock’, Bob asked for the Corporal Thatcher shirt and the G.I. trousers of Private Hargrove!”54

Robert and Judy Garland, "The Clock"

“On March 2, 1944, Bob remained secluded in his tiny apartment, liquor bottle and radio on the table. He felt he was the most miserable man on earth.

This was a night he should have been sharing with Jennifer. Not only was it her twenty-fifth birthday, the first birthday they hadn’t been together since she had turned nineteen, two months after they’d met, but it was the night of the Academy’s Oscar presentations.”55

“Morosely Bob stayed tuned to the Awards. A slight smile played over his lips as he heard Jennifer’s name read out as the winner of the Best Actress award. Then he passed out.

On March 3, newspapers nationwide published photographs of Jennifer at the theater and at the party which followed. David Selznick was seated strategically and discreetly between Ingrid Bergman and Jennifer, but there was nothing discreet about the loving gaze he fixed upon Jennifer. Her eyes, however, were riveted upon the Oscar held firmly in her hand.

Later that day, according to plan, she initiated divorce proceedings.”56

Bob’s star was rising rapidly at MGM, but his personal unhappiness only deepened. He badly needed a friend, someone to confide in.

He found him in the person of one Jim Henaghan one night at a restaurant on the Sunset Strip.

“He was lost in thought when he became conscious of a pleasant-looking fellow standing by his table.

‘You’re Robert Walker,’ the man said.


‘Jim Henaghan – of the Hollywood Reporter.’ As Jim remembered, ‘Bob seemed to freeze.’


‘Well,’ Jim continued, ‘I’ve been making the rounds to pick up some items for my columns, and when I spotted you sitting by yourself –‘

‘If you think that’s an item, you’re welcome to it. But do me a favor. Don’t preface it with ‘Still carrying a torch…’”57

After the initial angry reaction, Bob did find in Jim Henaghan the friend he so desperately needed.

“’We hit it off great,’ Jim remembered, ‘but I wanted Bob to take the initiative of calling. Let him make the first call. He could have had second thoughts about becoming chummy with a gossip columnist. A couple of nights later, he rang me up. He just wanted to talk to someone, he said. It was late, and I had a column to complete. He suggested dinner the following Thursday.

‘Fine, I agreed, and suggested a good restaurant that was within my means. I didn’t want him to get the impression he had hitched up with a freeloader.

That’s how our friendship got started. It continued to flourish until the final second of his life.’”58

In August of 1944, Bob began filming “The Clock” opposite Judy Garland. They had gotten to know one another before this and were pleased to be costarred in Judy’s first non-singing role.

“Bob felt Judy and he were kindred spirits – little boy lost, little girl lost – yet when they lunched together prior to starting ‘The Clock’, Judy was witty and bubbling with almost contagious ebullience. Her enthusiasm about costarring with him gave his sagging morale a boost. He promised himself he’d exorcise his personal demons and stay on the wagon while the film was in production. It was a promise he was not to keep.”59

The original director of the film, Fred Zimmerman, was replaced after two weeks with Vincente Minnelli. Minnelli and Judy would fall in love during filming of “The Clock”, and Bob felt left out and lonely watching their personal happiness. His drinking resumed and often Judy would search for him in bars, take him home and try to sober him up before the next day’s shooting.

“Discussing ‘The Clock’ some thirty years later in his autobiography, Minnelli would recall:

‘The actors delivered one hundred and ten percent. I had heard that Bob Walker, suffering from the heartache of a broken marriage, was looking at life through the bottom of a liquor bottle. And yet he was always cheerful and on time. I wasn’t aware of the toll the picture was taking on his nerves. But Judy knew. She believed in Bob, and she believed in the picture.’”60

“Modern Screen” magazine’s June 1945 issued selected “The Clock” as its picture of the month. “Basically, ‘The Clock’ is a boy-meets-girl theme interpreted in ideas of one syllable, with Judy Garland as the girl, Alice, and Robert Walker as the boy, Joe.

It is the kind of picture which, while you are seeing it, captures you with its charm but does not give you much to take home. That must mean it has a kind of enchantment under which it holds the viewing spectator. And that is a nice achievement.”61

“Alice and Joe, admirably and unerringly played by Judy Garland and Robert Walker, are starry-eyed with miracle; lovely with authentic innocence.”62

Speaking to Louella Parsons, Bob said regarding his co-star: “He told me that he considers Judy Garland the nearest thing to Jennifer as an actress. ‘She is such an exciting person to work with. ‘The Clock’ which we are making together is almost like a poem – Judy puts so much into it.’”63

In another interview in the October 1945 issue of “Photoplay” magazine, Bob spoke about making “The Clock”. “With ‘The Clock’ it was different. His characterization of the soldier in that picture was a more naturally written part than any he had had before. ‘The kind of stuff I’m sick of doing is the ‘Since You Went Away’ type, the gawky kid stuff. Now in ‘The Clock’ the soldier was just as young in age but the dialogue was more sensitive and the scenes more mature. He was a boy with a poetical sense or he could never have played that scene in Central Park the way it was written.’”64

The following year during a trip to New York City with his friend, Jim Henaghan, Jim came up with the following prank to try to shake Bob from his doldrums.

“I told him I had some shopping to do – suggested we join up at the Astor Hotel just down the street from the theater on Broadway. ‘Just meet me inside the door by the clock. I should be there no later than five P.M.’ He had made ‘The Clock’ with the scene at the Astor – but he didn’t catch on to what I was up to. So I ran over to the hotel and I got up in a little balcony, and I sat there and watched him – and here was Robert Walker standing under the clock exactly as he had done in the picture. He stood there for nearly an hour as I watched the reactions of the people passing by, the double takes, the looks of total disbelief…as they stared at the real Walker reliving the scene. But without the cameras. Life imitating art.

When I came down, I confessed the whole thing, explaining, ‘I just wanted to give these people a bit of a thrill,’ and he screamed ‘You sonofabitch,’ but he was shaking with laughter and was in a rare mood throughout the dinner.”65

Robert with Michael and Bobby (Movieland - Feb 1944)

Even though his personal life was in turmoil and his drinking increasing, Bob still had one foundation in his life – his sons Bobby and Michael.

Another article in Modern Screen of December 1944 says this: “Bob has a standing date with his two boys Sunday mornings. They begin looking for him around seven A.M., and around nine he shows up. The youngsters pounce on him.

‘Hi, pop.’

‘Hi, pop.’

‘Double hi. How are you and where’ll we go?’

The answer never varies. ‘Down to La Cienega.’ The park on La Cienega Boulevard is the small fry’s dream of heaven. It had slides and swings, merry-go-rounds and ponies. It has popsicles, peanuts and balloons.

‘Okay.’ They pile into Bob’s 1940 Buick (which, incidentally, is the only thing in this world he’s sentimental about. He and Jennifer drove from Hollywood to New York in it back in 1940), and in due time they reach the park. The kids want to ride on everything at once, of course, but because they love them best, they always want to save the ponies for last. Finally, exhausted from sliding, swinging, eating, Bobby, who is four, demands the biggest, wildest pony they’ve got. Mike, who is three and who cannot bear to be outdone, seconds it.

‘The bigges’ wildes’ one,’ he shouts. Bob watches the two brave little men ride off on their fiery mounts with a funny tight feeling around his heart. He’s so crazy about those kids and so proud of them. He’s making sure that neither of them will be misfits the way he was for so long. He wants them to excel at many things, to be afraid of nothing, to be the healthiest, strappingest youngsters that good food and care and sunshine can make them. So far, his dreams for them are coming true. They’re great husky lugs, and Mike – who got the benefit of the California sunshine before Bobby – is the same height and weight as his brother. They aren’t afraid of the ocean or the dark or big dogs, the way so many children are. They weren’t even afraid of the Old Witch in the movie, ‘Snow White.’”66

Another family outing as told in “Modern Screen” of November 1945 ends with these words: “After dinner the three satisfied gentlemen drove to Bob’s house and settled, a cozy trio, in Bob’s big chair behind a book, ‘The Little Prince’, by Antoine de St. Exupery. Much of the text is over the heads of the two boys if one considers the actual words, but in a good story, a story by one of the timeless tellers of tales, there is a music, a rhythm that penetrates the spirit. Thought the meaning of the words may escape the young mind, Bob is convinced that the melody enters in and remains. So, each Sunday, he reads some honest work of literature to the boys.

That the phraseology is not lost was proved one night when Bob returned his sons to Jennifer Jones. He kissed them good-night. He said eagerly, ‘Well…didn’t we have fun today?’

Michael heaved a profoundly ecstatic sigh. ‘Oh, Daddy, I am extremely happy,’ thereby provoking an unsteady smile on his father’s devoted face.”67


Biography Index