Monday, December 13, 2010

Remembering Don Taylor

Don Taylor was born December 13, 1920 in Freeport, Pennsylvania. Don studied law, then speech and drama at Penn State University, where as a freshman he began taking part in college stage productions. Hitchhiking to Hollywood in 1942, Taylor screen-tested at Warner Brothers but was rejected because of his draft status. M-G-M, not as fussy, signed him to a contract and immediately put him to work, assigning him the minuscule role of a soldier in director Clarence Brown’s sentimental slice of Americana, “The Human Comedy” (1943). More minor roles followed before Taylor enlisted in the army, but even there he continued to act: Playwright, screenwriter Moss Hart chose him to play one of the leads in the Army-Air Force production of Hart's play, "Winged Victory". Returning to civilian life, Taylor resumed his work in films with a top role in the trend-setting crime drama “The Naked City” (1948). He’s probably best remembered for his appearance in “Stalag 17" (1953) as Lieutenant Dunbar. Don appeared in one of the earliest Euro-Westerns “The Savage Guns” (1961) as Mike Summers. He also directed “The 5-Man Army (1969) although there is much debate over how much he was actually involved in the film. In later years Taylor became a film and TV director, being nominated for an Emmy for his direction of an episode of “Night Gallery” (1970). Don was married to actress Phyllis Avery [1924- ] from 1944-1955 and met his second wife Hazel Court [1926-2008] when he directed her in a 1958 episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1955). They married in 1964 and remained so until his death from heart failure on December 29, 1998 in Los Angeles, California. Today we remember Don Taylor on what would have been his 90th birthday.

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