"Prize Pop" Screen World - Fall 1950


"Robert Walker's a mighty fine actor, but the role he likes the most, and the one he plays best, is that of 'Pop' to his two lively sons.

Way out on Sunset Boulevard where the road winds around the Santa Monica mountains and beyond to the ocean, many motorists out on a Sunday drive have seen a tall, slender fellow with unruly brown hair and horn-rimmed glasses guiding two smaller carbon copies on a hike.

Often as not a motorist will toot his horn at this gay little trio and wave. They've recognized Robert Walker and his two sons, Bobbie, 10, and Michael, 9.

The three live in one of those comfortable ranch-type houses that dot the canyon. When he isn't busy with the boys, Bob spends much of his free time reading out in the backyard.

Recently, M-G-M cast Walker with Burt Lancaster and Joanne Dru in 'Vengeance Valley.' The film would location in Canyon City, Colorado, for a month. Bob didn't want to leave the boys with a housekeeper during their summer vacation, so he told them to pack their old clothes and the three of them went to Colorado together.

While Bob was riding, roping and drawing from his holster like a veteran for the flicker, the boys were having the time of their young lives.

Imagine having a Rocky Mountain cowboy teach you to ride, twirl a lariat and do tricks with your Pinto. The evenings were spent sitting around an open fire with the old cowpokes filling the boys' ears with tales of rounding up rustlers, sleeping in the desert with a saddle for a pillow, etc.

In the movie, Bob plays a no-good fellow. This casting may surprise his public that usually sees him in gay, romantic comedies. When Walker came back to Hollywood after six months off the screen, he had an entirely new slant on himself and his career. M-G-M had him pencilled in for the hero role (he's the one who gets the girl) in 'Please Believe Me.' Bob read the script and asked the studio if he couldn't instead play the wealthy gigolo part in the film. He got it and has been campaigning for diversified parts ever since.

Many have the mistaken idea, upon seeing boyish-looking Walker, that his theatrical training has been restricted to school plays. The truth is he has had a very thorough dramatic training. He won two scholarships at the Pasadena Playhouse, attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, put in several years on radio, and even perfected his speaking voice by reading scripts aloud to a publisher -- a gruelling procedure but one which Bob welcomed as a fine medium for voice development. It all goes to show Bob takes his career seriously.

At one time he worked for as little as 50 cents a performance in a Greenwich Village play, just in hopes of being spotted by a Broadway or Hollywood scout.

He enjoys tennis, golf and swimming, but his favorite indoor sport is playing chess or just reading or telling stories to his two sons. Bob admits the youngsters 'are the apples of his eye' and they retaliate by announcing to playmates that their pop 'is really keen.'"

The End

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