Getting reacquainted with Beatrice’s biggest celebrity

Part of Hollywood's Golden Era, Robert Taylor is an often overlooked celebrity, but he's never been forgotten back home.

BEATRICE, Neb. (KLKN) –  He may not be remembered as often as his contemporaries, but Robert Taylor was no less a star than the likes of Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, or the others who made up the Golden Age of Hollywood. His story starts in Nebraska, and it’s here in Beatrice that his story continues this weekend.

“I don’t think he’s ever been forgotten here in Gage County, or in Beatrice, or maybe even in the State of Nebraska”, says biographer Charles Tranberg. “Even when he became a big star, he never forgot his roots.”

Taylor was born a little east of Beatrice, in Filley. His family moved around a few times, and ended up back in Beatrice after a few years. That’s where he’d stay through high school graduation. He started his college career at Doane before going west to California. Years later, he’d get his honorary degree from the Nebraska school.

After the move to California and a contract with MGM, the rest is history. But after decades in film and television, why isn’t Robert Taylor remembered? Biographer Linda Alexander says it can all be traced to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

“They were talking about whether communism was coming into Hollywood, and infiltrating Hollywood and the United States, and he was condemned for ‘naming names’, which he technically never did do”, points out Alexander. “But it became a real big deal, and that was an issue.”

Robert Taylor is being celebrated this whole weekend in Beatrice to mark his 110th birthday. Although Robert himself may be gone, his films survive, and he’s clearly not been forgotten.

You can see the full schedule of events, and see some of the special guests joining in the celebration on the Gage County Historical Society’s website.

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