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‘Father Knows Best’ Robert Young Battled His Demons and Tried to Take His Own Life 7 Years before Passing

Oyin Balogun
Sep 10, 2021
12:30 A.M.
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Robert Young gave fans a glimpse of a perfect father when he appeared in "Father Knows Best." However, his life outside the spotlight was filled with several challenges, including suicide attempts.

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Robert Young was one of the most troubled actors in Hollywood, who eventually became the symbol of a perfect father. He played the role of Jim Anderson, a wise and kind father in the television series "Father Knows Best."

Born on February 22, 1907, Young began his acting career in the early 1930s. His career spanned over three years, with the actor appearing in over a hundred movies. Even though he was seen in several films, Young's role in "Father Knows Best" stood out.

Late actor Robert Young from "Father Knows Best" and his wife | Photo: Getty Images

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While Young influenced generations with his role, he struggled greatly in his personal life. The actor battled alcoholism, suffered depression, and often attended alcoholics anonymous meetings.

He also revealed during interviews that he felt guilty portraying a steadfast and content father on the show. Young's mental health was critically damaged, and he had tried to take his life a few times before he died.

Robert Young from "Father Knows Best" circa 1953. | Source: Getty Images

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In 1991, the icon made the headlines when he tried to commit suicide at his home in Westlake Village. Los Angeles County Sheriff Bob Barrier recounted the terrible occurrence.

Last year, Young's eldest daughter, Carol Proffitt, went down memory lane, recounting her father's battle with depression.

Robert Young and Jane Wyatt with the TV family from the show "Father Knows Best" circa 1950s. | Source: Getty Images

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He made it known that during the early hours of that day, Young had run a hose from his car's exhaust pipe into the interior of his car.

Next, Young called a tow truck to start his car, and the driver discovered the hose and immediately informed authorities. Barrier revealed that Young was drunk and confirmed that he had tried to commit suicide.

Robert Young and wife Elizabeth Young at the 36th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 23, 1984. | Source: Getty Images.

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After the scary ordeal, Young was admitted into a psychiatric treatment facility— Thousand Oaks Chartered Hospital, and he was put under 24-hour surveillance. Police authorities received more shocking news after Young's wife, Elizabeth, opened up about her husband's suicide attempt.

Before Young tried to take his life, Elizabeth said he had requested that she form a pact with him to commit suicide, but Elizabeth thought her husband was only joking.

Several years after Young's suicide attempt, he finally passed away during the late hours of July 21, 1998, at his Westlake Village home in the Los Angeles suburbs, aged 91.

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Photo of Robert Young as Marcus Welby from the television program "Marcus Welby, M.D." circa 1973. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Last year, Young's eldest daughter, Carol Proffitt, went down memory lane, recounting her father's battle with depression. In an interview with Closer Weekly, she noted that it was a tough time for Young.

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People talked less about it because alcoholism and depression at that time came with a stigma. However, Young opened up about his battle and found inner peace.

According to Proffitt, her late dad realized that being open and proving that he could get through the trying times taught him a lot. Finally, she encouraged people struggling with depression and alcoholism to be brave and get the help they needed.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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