Thursday, June 1, 2017

Joyce Taylor, Waxmate of the Month


Born in Taylorville, Illinois as Joyce Crowder.  Most online sources indicates a year of birth in 1932, but 1936 is the most probable year.  Joyce looked and acted older than she was. A coal miner's daughter [or according to another source, her father was a singer with his own radio show in St. Louis]  she attended public schools in Taylorville and was the top baton twirler at Taylorville High School.  Her performance in a school talent show led to a recording contract with Mercury Records in 1953.  Roy Rodde, one-time manager of Joni James, was her personal agent.

Her first record, “You’ve Got Something” for Mercury Records, was written by Joyce while sitting at a table in her mother’s restaurant called Pauline’s Place on South Washington Street. 

Mercury Records issued four singles on Joyce Taylor in 1953-1954 :
53 Mercury 70243 : If I Cry / You've Got Something  
54 Mercury 70317 : Babe In The Woods / Take My Love
54 Mercury 70345 : Sealed With A Kiss / If You Only Knew
54 Mercury 70461 : Your Mind, Your Lips, Your Heart /No Happiness For Me
She is also rumored to have recorded as Joyce Bradley (not confirmed)
55 Mercury 70769 : A Dangerous Age / Take Your Time With Me Lover (as Joyce Bradley)
55 Mercury 70716 : Why Don't You Write Me / Love Is A Many Splendored Thing as Joyce Bradley)

Under contract to Howard Hughes' RKO Pictures in the 1950s  she was only allowed by the eccentric and enigmatic tycoon to act in one picture, a small part in "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" in 1956.  After seven frustrating years being “bottled up” by the eccentric and enigmatic Howard Hughes, she became a regular on the TV sci-fi/adventure series, “Men into Space” (1959) and acted in many other TV shows in the late fifties and early sixties including “Sea Hunt,” “Bonanza,” “Ozzie and Harriet,” “77 Sunset Strip” and “The Untouchables.”   Joyce’s movie titles include: “Atlantis the Lost Continent,” “Ring of Fire,” “Thirteen Frightened Girls,” “F.B.I. Story,” “Windsplitter,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Rappacinni’s Daughter.”   In addition, she made numerous television commercials, some of which were for VO5 hair spray and cream, Rambler, Ford, Coke, Spic and Span, and Folgers Coffee.

She later married a stockbroker and left the business. Now makes her home in Colorado where she writes poetry.

Several paragraphs in "Howard Hughes: The Untold Story" book by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske describes the Joyce Taylor's RKO years:

    Joyce Taylor was anything but happy during the seven years she was under contract to Hughes.  She was just fifteen and, despite her tender years, already a veteran of the nightclub circuit when she sang on Walter Winchell's television show, wearing a skirt, sweater, and bobby sox.  When the show ended, Winchel took a call from Walter Kane, who said," Howard Hughes wants Joyce."  She met with Hughes one afternoon in Los Angeles.  "There was nothing at all odd about it...," said Taylor, who found Hughes "charming, warm, and nice - and normal. " As the head of RKO Pictures, he also promised movie roles.  A second meeting took place in the early morning hours in an empty sound stage on the Samuel Goldwyn lot.

   Taylor entered to find Howard "standing in this dark place, with a light nearby."  He held out his hand and motioned for her to sit down. She did - and discovered she was in the light.  When Hugues sat opposite her, she could'nt see him.  He reached out to hand her a pen?  "And suddenly I felt very uneasy."

   Atfer she had signed her contract, she looked up "and I saw this look in his eyes. It was scary and dark. It was an "I Own you, you're mine' look."   Taylor ran from the soundstage, turning back only once.  "And Howard Hughes was gone."

   She was put up at the Westwood Manor Hotel.  But she didn't want to live there alone, so Hughes flew out her mother and sisters.  Eventually the family was placed in a home in Bel Air.  Taylor was not permitted to date or arrange her own day's schedule.  "Every morning I woke up and got myself perfectly groomed.  Every hair in place.  And I went to drama lessons.  At night, I watched movies Howard Hughes forced me to see.  By myself.  That was my life for the first six or nine months."  Taylor went on to suffer a nervous breakdown.  Hughes sent birds of paradise.  "That was his flower for me."

   To her great anger, Hughes made an ally of her mother, who encouraged Joyce to go out with Hughes.  Accompanied by chaperons, she went with him to Palm Springs and to Florida.  It was in Florida that she incurred his wrath because she dived into a pool.  "He was yelling when I came up out of the water," recalled Taylor, who had done what Hughes considered the unthinkable - jostled her breats with the dive.

   Taylor never jad a physical relationship with Hughes.  " I hated him too much."  She remembered the time he touched her shoulders.  "And I shouted at him, 'No! Don't you ever, ever touch me!"  And he never did.

   She recalled that Hughes once told her, "I play chess with people."  He explained: "In a chess game, you see how long you can keep a person in a certain move."

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't referring to Joyce Taylor as "Dead Wax" imply she is deceased?