Glen H. Taylor was born April 12th, 1904, in
Portland, Oregon, and raised in rural Idaho. He
was one of thirteen children born to P.J. and Olive
Taylor. As was often the case at the turn of the
century, not all survived to maturity, but the
Taylor clan remained a large brood. Nearly all were
musically-inclined, with most family members singing,
and playing various instruments. His older sister
Lena (later known as Lee Morse) had a prolific
recording career and went on to record close to 200
songs in the 1920s and '30s.
Glen Taylor quit school before he reached his teens
and managed his brother's tiny movie theaters in
Kooskia, and Stites, Idaho. He considered himself
a "natural-born actor" and found work easily in
entertainment while still in his teens. He worked
for various stock companies, including one run by
his eldest brother Ferris. Glen remained with him
for seven years, then moved on to a musical-comedy
company run by his brother Slade in Montana. He married
for the first time in the 1920s, but it was a brief
marriage, and they soon went their separate ways. In
1930, he married Dora, who'd become the love of his
life. Dora and Glen founded "The Glendora Players"
in Pocatello, Idaho. The company of singers, dancers
and actors gave their first public performance
June 13th, 1928, and were a smash hit. Unfortunately
talkies were about to take over the entertainment
world, and leave traveling shows, like The Glendora
Players, struggling for their very existence. Like
millions of others, he and his young family spent
years fighting to survive during the Great Depression.
Even their little three-year-old son Arod got in
on the act and would sing cowboy songs and yodel
to the delight of audiences. They continued to
present their show in towns throughout the Rockies,
but the increasing popularity of sound motion
pictures, and tough economic times, progressively
drained more and more of their audience away.
The book, The People's Corporation, by
multi-millionaire businessman and inventor of
the safety razor, King C. Gillette, provided the
inspiration for Taylor to seek public office.
In September 1937, with no political experience
whatsoever, he announced to his shocked wife Dora,
that he planned to run for Congress. Taylor did
indeed seek the Democratic nomination for U.S.
Congress in 1938, but was unsuccessful, and came
in fourth place. When he ran for the U.S. Senate
in 1940, he was labeled "semi-socialistic" by the
opposition, and "communistic" by some members of
the press. His 1940 run for Senate was also
unsuccessful. During World War II, he worked
briefly as a sheet-metal worker at a California
plant making components for U.S. war ships. After
returning to Idaho in 1942, he again ran for a
seat in the U.S. Senate. Again, he lost to Senator
John Thomas, but Glen had substantially narrowed
the gap between them, in that 1942 race.
He'd derisively been labeled a clown, hillbilly,
or buffoon, during his early unsuccessful campaigns
for office. Despite the attacks, underhanded
campaign tricks, and highly-irregular voting
results, the "Singing Cowboy" as he was more
commonly known to Idaho voters, had solid support
in the rural areas of the state, and steadily
saw his popularity increasing in some Idaho
cities as well.
In 1944, he gave up his cowboy persona, lost the
cowboy hat which he had used to cover his prematurely
bald head, and donned a respectable business suit.
In his fourth try for public office, and his third
run for the Senate, Glen Taylor finally triumphed.
He was convinced his custom-made toupee that he had
personally constructed, had a hand in his victory
over Governor Bottolfsen.
When Idaho's senior Senator John Thomas died
in 1945, Taylor became the senior senator from
Idaho after serving less than a year in office.
By this point, Senator Taylor was already known
as the "Singing Senator" and was one of the
more liberal members of the Democratic Party.
Following the war, he found himself increasingly
at odds with the policies of the Truman
administration and others within the Democratic
Party. This led him to make a move correctly
branded "political suicide" by many.
Former Vice President Henry A. Wallace challenged
President Truman in the 1948 Presidential election.
Wallace was running on the Progressive Party ticket,
and Senator Glen Taylor was his Vice-Presidential
running mate. Recognizing the move might bring his
political career to a premature close, Taylor's
wife Dora, pleaded with him not to run. With three
sons to put through college, and little in the way
of savings, she was looking at the situation
realistically. Taylor's passionate beliefs took
precedence, and he forged ahead. While the main
battle in '48 was between Governor Thomas Dewey, and
President Truman, Wallace and Taylor still garnered
plenty of press coverage. The Progressive Party
platform contained many admirable positions, including
an end to racial discrimination, anti-lynching and
anti-segregation legislation, and an increase in
the minimum wage. Both Wallace and Taylor went much
further than the aforementioned positions. Each gave
speeches and took stands during the campaign that
alienated them from most Americans, and even
outraged most liberals. The 1948 Progressive Party
ticket was unsuccessful, receiving just 2.37 percent
of votes, and failed to carry a single state.
Failing in his bid to retain his senate seat
in 1950, Taylor accepted a position as president
of the newly-formed Coryell Construction Company.
When a government construction contract was
imperiled by the fact Glen was considered a
security risk, he resigned his position. During
the '48 campaign, he'd generated a great deal of
animosity with some in the government, as a
result of his positions and criticisms of the
administration. This is why he was vindictively
branded a "security risk."
During the fifties, he was grateful for any job
he could find, even the occasional manual labor
work as a construction worker. He was eventually
forced to return to his former show business
career of singing and acting to earn a living.
As Sen. Taylor later recalled, "We actually
went hungry at times."
In both 1954 and 1956, Taylor ran for the Senate
again. He went down to defeat in both elections,
and his political career was finished.
While looking for a business venture to call his
own, he discovered a lucrative market in men's
hairpieces. He founded Taylor Topper Inc., and
utilized some of the innovative techniques he'd
used to make his own custom toupee, to produce
high-quality, "practical, detection-proof,
easy-to-put-on, easy-to-take-off, easy-to-keep-clean"
men's hairpieces. Taylor Topper was a pioneer maker
of hairpieces and remained a leader in the industry,
and a profitable endeavor for Senator Taylor and
His autobiography, The Way It Was With Me, was
published in 1979. He was the last survivor of
the thirteen Taylor children.