Don Taylor (actor/director)

Don Taylor (actor/director)
Don Taylor
Born December 13, 1920(1920-12-13)
Freeport, Pennsylvania, US
Died December 29, 1998(1998-12-29) (aged 78)
Los Angeles, California, US
Occupation Actor, director
Years active 1943–88

Phyllis Avery (1944-55, divorced) 2 daughters

Hazel Court (1964-98, his death) 2 children (1 daughter, 1 son)

Don Taylor (December 13, 1920 – December 29, 1998) was an American movie actor and director best known for his performances in 1950s classics like Stalag 17 and Father of the Bride and the 1948 film noir The Naked City. He later turned to directing films such as Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and Tom Sawyer (1973).


Life and work

Born in Freeport, Pennsylvania, on December 13, 1920, Taylor studied speech and drama at Penn State University and hitchhiked to Hollywood in 1942. He was signed as a contract player at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and appeared in small roles. Drafted into the United States Army Air Forces (AAF) during World War II, he appeared in the Air Forces's Winged Victory Broadway play and movie (1944), credited as "Cpl. Don Taylor."

His acting career

After discharge from the AAF, Taylor was cast in a lead role as the young detective in The Naked City, which was notable for being filmed entirely on the streets of New York. Taylor was part of the ensemble cast in the classic WW2 infantry comedy/drama Battleground (1949). He then appeared as the husband of Elizabeth Taylor in the comedies Father of the Bride (1950) and Father's Little Dividend (1951), starring Spencer Tracy. He also played Vern "Cowboy" Blithe in Flying Leathernecks in 1951. In 1953, Taylor had a key role as the escaping prisoner Lt. Dunbar in Billy Wilder's Stalag 17. His last major film role came in I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955).

His directorial career

From the late 1950s through the '80s, Taylor turned to directing movies and, mainly, TV shows, such as the short-lived Steve Canyon, starring Dean Fredericks. One of his memorable efforts, in 1973, was the musical film Tom Sawyer, which boasted a Sherman Brothers song score. Other films that Taylor directed are Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Echoes of a Summer (1976), The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday (also 1976), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) starring Burt Lancaster, Damien: Omen II (1978) with William Holden, and The Final Countdown (1980) with Kirk Douglas.

Taylor occasionally performed both acting and directing roles simultaneously, as he did for episodes of the TV detective series Burke's Law.

His personal life

Taylor was married twice.

  • His first wife was Phyllis Avery, whom he married in 1944; they divorced in 1955, but not before the births of their daughters Anne and Avery.
  • His second wife was Hazel Court, whom he married in 1964 and stayed with until his death; they had a son, Jonathan, and a daughter, Courtney.

His death

Taylor died on December 29, 1998, in Los Angeles, California, of heart failure.

Selected filmography

  • The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954)
  • The Flying Leathernecks (1951)

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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