ELIZABETH TAYLOR STORY.
[Compiled by RKW years ago.]
Peter Taylor was born in Warrick County, Indiana, and married Margaret Jane Perigo, who also was born in Warrick County, Indiana. They had one son, Francis Marian Taylor.
Francis Marian Taylor was born May 10, 1841 and died September 21, 1920, and was buried in Riverview Cemetery in Arkansas City (there was no obituary in the paper.) We have no record of who he married and when she died. He had one son Francis Marian Taylor, Jr.
Francis Marian Taylor, Jr. was born July 3, 1860 in Boonville, Indiana. He married Elizabeth Myrtle Rosemond (born June 10, 1871 at Fairview, Ohio) on February 27, 1890, in Springfield, Illinois. They had two sons, John A. Taylor and Francis L. Taylor. They moved to Arkansas City in 1910. They attended the Presbyterian church.
He first worked for Newman’s Dry Goods and later opened his own department store at 300 South Summit. The Taylor family built (a brick home at 310 North A street) and lived in a rural-type environment common to the times: a stable to the rear of the lot which housed a milk cow, a horse for driving, pigs for butchering and hens. The privy stood near the alley. Water was obtained from the cistern or well. The balance of the space was planted to garden.
Sam Warmbrodt had moved to Arkansas City and was the manager of the Empire Steam Laundry for Charles N. Hunt. It stood next door north of the Gladstone (Elmo) Hotel. He married (in Arkansas City) on April 27, 1887, Miss (Anna ? or Elizabeth?) Southern. This couple became parents of a son, Wilson, and a daughter, Sara Viola Warmbrodt (born August 21, 1896.) Their home was at 200 North Summit.
Sara Warmbrodt grew up in Arkansas City. She began, at the age of 10, to recite “pieces” at church socials and such like functions. She attended the local schools but did not graduate from High School. After playing the role of Amy in the play Little Women in an Arkansas City presentation, Sara Warmbrodt decided to become an actress. She made her first movie, called “Won from the Flames”, in Arkansas City when a company filming on location used local talent. She said “I played the leading lady part in the thriller, without any makeup.”
Sara was in the Arkansas City High School Sophomore class in 1914. She and Francis Taylor were pictured side by side in that class picture.
Sara prevailed upon her parents to let her continue high school at the Georgia Brown High School in Kansas City so she could study dramatics. She also took a course at the “Horner-Redpath” school in Kansas City preparatory to entering the Chautauqua Circuit that fall. Dorothy Mortimer, on the Orpheum circuit, lost one of her players in Kansas City and needed a girl in her act. So she came to see Sara’s high school class doing a Japanese playlet. She came back stage to see Sara, afterwards, and told the young player that she thought she had a future. She also offered to introduce her to that future right off, and she did. Sara played the whole week with her, and then wrote to a New York agent, who finally communicated with Miss Southern, telling her he would give her a chance.
The New York agent sent Sara to Sioux City, where she was hired by Morgan Wallace’s Princess Theatre stock company. While in Sioux City she played both ingenue and leading roles through a period of seventy-four weeks. She had her legal name changed to Sara Southern.
She left Sioux City to go on the stage in New York. Sara said, “ I did come to New York once, but it was in the midst of the actors’ strike, when everything connected with the theatre was so forbidding I swiftly left this great city.”
She accepted a stock engagement in Haverhill, Massachusetts, from which she went to another in Winnipeg, Canada.
Sara Southern left Winnipeg to go to Tom Wilke’s repertory company in Los Angeles, California. For two years she performed with them at the Majestic theatre. In March of 1921, she was appearing at the Palace theatre, in Los Angeles, in the play “The Spoiled Girl.”
Mr. and Mrs. Sam S. Warmbrodt had moved by this time to the Ozark regions of Missouri because of his health.
In the summer of 1922, the Selwyn brothers bought Channing Pollock’s new play “The Fool.” They decided to try it out in Los Angeles. They used the Wilke’s reportory company and the Majestic theatre. Sara Southern starred as the lame girl “Mary Margaret,” whose faith makes her whole.
The first night that Channing Pollock saw Miss Southern’s characterization of Mary Margaret in Los Angeles, he wired Arch Selwyn that nothing must prevent the Selwyns from securing her for the play when it opened in New York.
“The Fool” opened at the Times Square Theater on Broadway October 23, 1922, with Sara Southern in the starring role. The play had a long run of 272 performances before closing.
She continued working as an actress, both in the United States and Europe. While performing in London, England, in 1926, she re-met her Arkansas City childhood sweetheart, Francis Taylor Jr. They were married there the same year.
Sara Southern returned to Arkansas City to be the maid of honor at the marriage of Dorothy Ralston to Harry Howard. They were close friends and kept in close touch for many years.
Mrs. E. M. Taylor’s sister (Mabel Rosemond) had married Howard Young, a famous artist who had galleries in St. Louis, then New York, and London and Paris.
Mrs. E. M. Taylor died December 11, 1936, and was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Arkansas City. In 1936 Francis Jr. and family had resided in London, England, for over ten years, where he was buying art for his uncle, Howard Young, as well as establishing his own gallery on Old Bond Street. Francis’ brother John was living in New York and working as a salesman for Howard Young’s firm. Francis Taylor Sr. continued to live in Arkansas City until 1944 when he moved to the Kansas Masonic Home in Wichita, where he died November 9, 1946. He was buried in Riverview Cemetery next to his wife. Both of the Taylor sons were living in California at the time.
Francis Taylor Jr. left high school (about the age of 16) without graduating and went to work for his uncle, Howard Young, in St. Louis. When the gallery expanded to New York, he also moved there. He later went with his uncle to London to manage Howard Young’s art gallery.
It was there, while Sara was appearing on stage, that they re-established their friendship. He married Sara Southern--daughter of Sam Warmbrodt--in 1926 in England. They lived in England after their marriage where they had two children, Howard Francis (born in 1929), and Elizabeth Rosemond (born February 27, 1932). They came to Arkansas City in the fall of 1936, during the illness and death of Mr. Taylor’s mother and stayed until the first of the year, when they returned to London. Howard was enrolled in Roosevelt School, while Elizabeth was too young for school but might have attended kindergarden.
The children’s “Nanny” came with the family to tend to the care of Howard and Elizabeth. Lucille Wright was Howard’s teacher at Roosevelt grade school when he attended there. It has never been firmly established that Elizabeth attended school here, but some feel that she went to kindergarden for a short time.
The war was devastating Europe in 1939 and found Francis and Sara Southern Taylor, both American nationals, running an art gallery in England for Francis’ multimillionaire uncle, Howard Young, a well-known dealer with an important gallery in New York. To avoid the growing conflict, Francis Taylor sent his wife and two children home to America while he remained behind to close out his uncle’s business. They visited briefly in Arkansas City before going to Pacific Palisades, near Hollywood where the Warmbrodt family was then living. In a few weeks Howard joined his family and opened his own art gallery in Los Angeles.
Sara immediately identified with the glamour and excitement of the movie industry. Sara was a diminutive woman who spoke with honey-dripping sweetness, calling her husband “Daddy,” her daughter “my angel,” and her son “my sweet lambie pie.” Everybody else was simply “my dear.”
Through Sara’s efforts, Elizabeth was in four small parts in movies before she played Velvet Brown in “National Velvet” in 1944 and became a star while only twelve years old. Elizabeth Rosemont Taylor had achieved star status.
A Traveler article of July 1, 1971 states “Sources contacted say that, at one time, Elwin Hunt wrote an article for the Arkansas City Daily news that was not very complimentary of Sara. By then, she had become quite a tempermental person because of her fame as an actress and as the mother of Elizabeth Taylor, child star. Therefore, she announced that she would never acknowledge the town or its people again.”
In 1946, while Elizabeth Taylor was making Life with Father, Sara fell in love with Michael Curtiz, who was directing the film. That brief affair ruptured the Taylor’s marriage for a time. Francis left with his son for Wisconsin to stay with his uncle, Howard Young. Elizabeth remained in Hollywood with her mother. The family reunited in January 1947.
Francis Taylor closed his art gallery in California in February, 1957, and went into retirement. He died in 1968, of a stroke, and was buried in California.
Sara Taylor was living in Palm Springs in 1988.
Elizabeth Taylor has married eight times as follows:
Conrad (Nicky) Hilton 05/06/1950 - 01/29/1951
Michael Wilding 02/21/1952 - 01/23/1957
Michael Todd ??/??/1957 - 03/22/1958
Eddie Fisher 05/12/1959 - 1964
Richard Burton 05/15/1964 - 1974
Richard Burton 10/10/1975 - 1976
John W. Warner 12/04/1976 - 1982
Larry Fortensky 10/06/1991 -
Elizabeth Taylor is the mother of four children: Michael Wilding, Jr., born Jan 6, 1953; Christopher, born in 1955; Liza Todd, born in 1957; and she adopted Maria Burton Carson in 1961. Elizabeth became a grandmother in 1971, at the age of 39, and has several grand-children.
The Wichita Eagle of December 9, 1990, stated Elizabeth Taylor tried (unsuccessfully) to sell a Van Gogh painting. She had bought this painting through her father, Francis Taylor Jr., while he was an art dealer.