"Meet Bob Walker, Horatio Alger Hero"

MGM Lion's Roar July 1943


Not since the days of Vivien Leigh and "Gone With the Wind" has Hollywood been so electrified by a screen newcomer.

He stepped on a studio sound stage one day and the next morning the tidings were making the rounds, Producers rushed to see his test and enthusiastically lined up enough roles to keep him busy for years to come.

Robert Walker is the name of the film capital's 1943 Horatio Alger hero - a name new to theatre marquees, but one which Hollywood oracles predict will speedily spell plenty of cash for movie box offices.

Help Wanted - Young Actor

Bob's rise to screen prominence is as "rags to riches" as any previous movieland success saga. He was appearing on New York radio progarms, a player without a name, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer started its search for a young actor to portray a teenage sailor in its wartime film epic, "Bataan." The studio had signed one of the most imposing all-male, all-star casts of recent years, but a talented young actor was needed for one of the most important roles in the film.

Found - Bob Walker

Young Walker's name and capabilities were told to an M-G-M official in New York. And before Bob could recover from his surprise, he was making a screen test. One look at the test convinced the studio official, and Walker was aboard the next train for Hollywood. Then, before he could unpack, he was in front of a camera with Robert Taylor, Thomas Mitchell, George Murphy, Lloyd Nolan, Lee Bowman and Desi Arnaz.

On the young actor's second day in Hollywood, Director Tay Garnett broke a lifelong rule and predicted that Bob would rocket to the top ranks of cinema's elite. Garnett's confidence seems well placed for after "Bataan," Walker immediately won a role in "Madame Curie" with Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon, and has since been assigned the title role of "See Here, Private Hargrove."

Acting No Adventure

The acting bug bit Walker early in life. He was attending the San Diego Army and Navy Academy in California - because he had cut one shenanigans too many at school in his home town, Salt Lake City, Utah. When he enrolled in a dramatci course he soon became fascinated with acting.

On the Air

Hightailing it back to New York, Bob entered the American Acadeny of Dramatic Arts. Graduation taught him another lesson - acting jobs aren't easy to land. Much pavemnet pounding and haunting Broadway casting offices finally bore fruit - several small parts in radio shows, bit roles in a midwest stock company followed, and then a radio program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Returning to New York fortified by a good background of radio experience, Bob finally was appearing on "The March of Time," "The Aldrich Family," "David Harum," and other programs when the movies spotted him.

Jennifer Jones Walker

Bob, during his drama school days, married Jennifer Jones, also a new screen discovery who rode the magic carpet to Hollywood and screen success about the same time as Bob. While her talented young husband is being hailed as the actor "find" of the year, Jennifer is being called the actress discovery of 1943. They have two children, Bobby and Michael, two and three.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Bob is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Horace Walker. His father was former editor of Deseret News of Salt Lake City. His great grandfather was one of the early settlers of that city and helped cut lumber for the famed Salt Lake Tabernacle.

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