January 17, 2015

Robert Walker - Actor, Abandoned Spouse and Victim of Divorce


Robert Walker 

                                   Jennifer Jones

Photo credits: www.IMDB.com

Another necessary commentary on the evils of divorce; of unbridled passions​; the affect on abandoned spouses; the blindness associated with divorce; the price paid by the innocent for the abandoning spouse's actions, etc. etc.

While reviewing information on the movie The Song of Bernadette (one of my Catholic movie favorites), I came upon actress Jennifer Jones's bio, who's first spouse was fellow actor Robert Walker. Jones was a great actress; a wife, apparently not so much:

"...Now a Hollywood star, Jones' career was marked out and molded for her by Selznick, who would become the love of her life. They began an affair and eventually she left her husband and two sons for the producer that inevitably led Walker to his untimely death through alcohol and drug abuse, instigated due to their separation." (IMDb Mini Biography By: Volker Boehm and Anonymous)

Did her divorce directly cause the death of her former husband? It's hard to argue against the point after reading this excerpt from Robert Walker's bio:

"...Selznick was also instrumental in securing a contract for Robert over at MGM. Stardom would be theirs as a result of this Selznick association, but at quite a cost to Robert....

In the meantime, Jennifer became so caught up in her obsessive relationship with mentor Selznick that she broke off with Robert. The actor was devastated and abruptly turned to heavy drinking. He would never completely recover from this loss. The first of many skirmishes with the law came about when he was arrested on a hit-and-run charge. In another self-destructive act, he agreed to appear with his estranged wife in the Selznick film Since You Went Away (1944). Although he suffered great anguish during the filming, the movie was praised by critics...

Following a lead part as a love-struck window dresser in One Touch of Venus (1948), which focused more on Ava Gardner's creative vision of loveliness, he impulsively married Barbara Ford, the daughter of famed director John Ford. The marriage ended in divorce after just five months, following more erratic outbursts, including arrests for drunkenness. By this time Jennifer had married Selznick, and this pushed Robert over the brink. He was committed to a sanatorium and not released until the middle of 1949...

Robert had just finished principal photography and was making himself available for re-shoots for director Leo McCarey when, on the night of August 28, 1951, his housekeeper found him in an extremely agitated state. Failing to calm him down, she panicked and called his psychiatrist, who, upon arrival, administered a dose of sodium amytal, a sedative, which Walker had taken in the past. Unfortunately, he had been drinking as well and suffered an acute allergic reaction to the drug. Robert stopped breathing, and all efforts to resuscitate him failed. His death cut short the career of a man destined to become one of the most charismatic actors in film. As for life imitating art, perhaps Robert's agonies are what brought out the magnificence of his acting." 
(IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net)

Like many respondents who did not seek nor promote the divorce that destroyed their marriages, Walker apparently took the news very hard; unlike many respondents, he apparently failed to rise from the blow. Why, I do not know. Was he Catholic? I don't believe so, but one biography states that he was "emotionally scarred" by his parents divorce when he was a child. How sad a life... Divorced Parents. Adulterous wife. His own divorce. Is it so hard to understand why he was unable to rise? It's enough to bury the strongest of men, in my opinion.

The above, as we all know, is the true face of divorce; the ugly face; the face that destroys marriages and men; the face that feeds off decimated lives. It is the face that rewards infidelity and punishes the innocent. It is the face that modern society has come to love, but who cannot see the evil that lies beneath the makeup. They follow the sirens song, oblivious to it and their untimely end. 

Robert Walker was a victim of divorce and of an unfaithful spouse, who achieved her personal goals but - as divorces usually require - those goals came at too great a price. Divorce has no feelings, no concern, no care for those that lie in its wake. I and others live every day this reality, knowing of the seeming futility of it all, but also knowing of its salvific effect upon our families, former spouses and ourselves as we carry our marital Crosses in imitation of Our Lord. "For better or for worse; for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health..." 

The death and destruction no-fault divorce causes is reason enough to strike it from the law books. And with it would be struck one of Satan's most popular and easily obtainable pathway to Souls.

Copyright 2015 David Heath - All Rights Reserved