Glen H. Taylor

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This article is about the late Idaho politician and 1948 vice-presidential candidate. For the Minnesota businessman, politician and team owner, see Glen Taylor. For the Canadian politician, see Glenn Taylor.
Glen H. Taylor
United States Senator
from Idaho
In office
January 3, 1945 – January 3, 1951
Preceded by D. Worth Clark
Succeeded by Herman Welker
Personal details
Born Glen Hearst Taylor
(1904-04-12)April 12, 1904
Portland, Oregon
Died April 28, 1984(1984-04-28) (aged 80)
Burlingame, California
Resting place Skylawn Memorial Park
San Mateo, California
Political party Democratic
Other political
Progressive (1948)
Spouse(s) Dora Marie Pike Taylor
(1903–1997) (aged 93)
(m. 1930–1984, his death)
Children 3 sons
Parents Pleasant John Taylor
Olive Higgins Taylor
Profession actor, musician,

Glen Hearst Taylor (April 12, 1904 – April 28, 1984) was an American politician, entertainer, businessman, and United States Senator from Idaho.[1][2][3]

He was the vice presidential candidate on the Progressive Party ticket in the 1948 election.[2] Taylor was otherwise a member of the Democratic Party. By one measure Taylor was the second most liberal member of the U.S. Senate (trailing only Wayne Morse of Oregon), and the fourth most liberal member of Congress overall between 1937 and 2002.[4]

Early life[edit]

Born in a boarding house in Portland, Oregon, Taylor was the twelfth of thirteen children of Pleasant John Taylor and Olive Higgins Taylor.[5] His father was a wandering preacher, and the family was with him in Portland for a protracted soul-saving meeting. The family homesteaded in north central Idaho near Kooskia, and Taylor attended the public schools. In 1919, after completing the eighth grade, he joined his older brother's stock theater company,[1][2] and between 1926 and 1944, he became the owner and manager of various entertainment enterprises. Taylor was also a country-western singer; his older sister, Lena, became famous as a jazz singer under the name Lee Morse in the 1920s.[6]

Taylor was inspired to run for political office by King Camp Gillette's book The People's Corporation[6] and Stuart Chase's 1932 book A New Deal. In 1935 Taylor unsuccessfully attempted to organize a Farmer–Labor Party in Nevada and Montana.[7]

Political career[edit]

By the late 1930s, Taylor had settled in eastern Idaho at Pocatello. His first political campaign was in 1938 for an open seat in the U.S. House from the second district, but he finished a distant fourth in the Democratic primary.[6]

Taylor first ran for the U.S. Senate in 1940 in a special election to fill the remaining term of the late William Borah, but lost to appointee John W. Thomas, with 47.1 to 52.9 percent. Despite being labeled as "semi-socialistic" and "communistic," he ran again in 1942 against Thomas and lost a closer race, 48.5 to 51.5 percent. Taylor lost both elections to Thomas because of stiff opposition from state Democratic Party leaders.[7]

In a third try for the U.S. Senate, Taylor ran for the other Idaho seat in 1944, defeating incumbent D. Worth Clark in the Democratic primary, and Governor C. A. Bottolfsen in the general election. In the Senate, Taylor, known as "The Singing Cowboy," acquired a reputation for eccentric behavior. Upon his arrival in Washington D.C., Taylor rode his horse, Nugget, up the steps of the U.S. Capitol building.[8] Nugget also accompanied Taylor during a 1947 tour of the country highlighting his anti-war activism and opposition to the U.S. foreign policy of the time.[9][10][11][12]

When Taylor moved to Washington in preparation to be sworn in in January 1945, the housing shortage caused by World War II continued to be in full swing and he and his family had a difficult time finding a place to live. In response, Taylor  – a musician and songwriter  – stood outside the U.S. Capitol building and sang, "O give us a home, near the Capitol dome, with a yard for two children to play..." to the tune of Home on the Range.[13] He and his family were offered several places to rent.

On election night in 1946, Taylor made national headlines by allegedly breaking the jaw of local Republican leader Ray McKaig in a hotel lobby in Boise.[14] Taylor claimed that McKaig had called him an obscene name, and struck him first with a punch that broke his nose,[15][16] but McKaig denied those claims.[17] McKaig, 66, claimed that while he was lying on the floor Taylor proceeded to kick him in the face,[18] but Taylor denied that claim.[16][19] Later, when Taylor lost his reelection bid in the 1950 primary, McKaig sent a telegram that said, "You may have broken my jaw, but I just broke your back!!!"

Taylor also feuded with other Idaho Democrats, often making critical remarks about Charles Gossett, who resigned as governor in November 1945 to have his successor appoint him to the vacant U.S. Senate seat. During the 1946 Democratic primary in June, Taylor openly supported Gossett's opponent, George Donart, calling the appointed incumbent Gossett a "conservative" who "hobnobbed" with Republicans in Congress.[20]

In the Senate, Taylor became noted for lengthy speeches which were often critical of President Harry S. Truman's policies, particularly in foreign affairs. He was particularly critical of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, both of which he believed brought the United States closer to war with the Soviet Union.[21] Taylor was decidedly less critical of the Soviet Union than most of his Senate colleagues, once noting that there was no need to criticize Soviet policy when there were 90 other Senators willing to do it every day.[7]

Civil rights activism[edit]

Taylor was an early proponent of the civil rights movement and as a United States Senator openly opposed segregationist policies and supporters. In January 1947 Taylor requested that the Senate delay the swearing in of Mississippi Sen. Theodore G. Bilbo, who had been reelected in 1946, pending investigation of charges against Bilbo for corruption and civil rights violations. As a result Bilbo – well known for his segregationist, racially-charged rhetoric – was never formally seated for his final Senate term. The impasse was not completely resolved until Bilbo's death in August 1947.[22]

Taylor was arrested on May 1, 1948, in Birmingham, Alabama by police commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor, for attempting to use a door reserved for African Americans, rather than the whites-only door, while attempting to attend a meeting of the Southern Negro Youth Congress. He was subsequently convicted of disorderly conduct.[23]

Roswell connection[edit]

In July 1947, Taylor was asked by a United Press reporter what he thought about reports that remnants of a UFO had been found by the Air Force near Roswell, New Mexico. Taylor replied that he almost hoped flying saucers would turn out to be spaceships from another planet. "They could end our petty arguments on earth." He went on to say that no matter what the UFOs turned out to be, they "can't be laughed off."

"Even if it is only a psychological phenomenon, it is a sign of what the world is coming to," Taylor explained. "If we don't ease the tensions, the whole world will be full of psychological cases and eventually turn into a global nuthouse."

1948 vice presidential nomination[edit]

In 1948 Taylor was chosen as the vice presidential candidate on the Progressive ticket headed by former Vice President Henry A. Wallace of Iowa.[1] The unabashedly leftist Wallace/Taylor ticket failed to carry any states and won only 2.4 percent of the nationwide popular vote. The nomination prompted an effort by conservatives within the Idaho Democratic Party to expel him from its ranks, but was defeated.[24]

Taylor's run on the Progressive ticket earned him a reputation as an "incorrigible leftist" in Idaho and contributed to his defeat in his reelection campaign in 1950.[25] Taylor was defeated in the Democratic primary by Clark, who in turn lost in the general election to conservative Republican Herman Welker.

Election results[edit]

U.S. Senate elections in Idaho (Class II & III): Results 1940–1956
Year Class Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1940 II Glen H. Taylor 110,614 47.0% John W. Thomas (inc.) 124,535 53.0%
1942 II Glen H. Taylor 68,989 48.5% John W. Thomas (inc.) 73,353 51.5%
1944 III Glen H. Taylor 107,096 51.1% C. A. Bottolfsen 102,373 48.9%
1954 II Glen H. Taylor 84,139 37.2% Henry Dworshak (inc.) 142,269 62.8%
1956 III Frank Church 149,096 56.2% Herman Welker (inc.) 102,781 38.7% Glen H. Taylor Write-In 13,415 5.1%


  • 1940 was a special election (November) to complete the final two years of the term vacated by the death of William Borah on January 19, 1940.
    Thomas, a former U.S. Senator (1928–1933), was appointed to the seat by Governor C. A. Bottolfsen on January 27.

Later life[edit]

Taylor served as president of Coryell Construction Company from 1950 to 1952, but was forced to resign after being labeled a "security risk," jeopardizing a government contract. Afterwards he was often forced to work manual labor construction jobs.[6] He ran again for the Senate in 1954 but was decisively beaten by Republican incumbent Henry Dworshak, winning only 37.2 percent of the vote. His sixth and final Senate attempt came in 1956; he narrowly lost the Democratic primary to 32-year-old lawyer Frank Church,[27][28][29][30] and then got 5.1 percent of the vote in the general election as a write-in candidate.[31] In March 1958, Taylor proposed that Church take a lie detector test about fraud in the 1956 primary.[32]

In 1958, Taylor and his wife Dora moved to Millbrae, California, and began making hairpieces by hand based on a hairpiece Taylor made for himself in the early 1940s.[1][2] By 1960 Taylor Topper Inc. had become the major manufacturer of hair replacements in the United States. Taylor told the Washington Post in 1978 that it was something he was very familiar with. "I was 18, a juvenile leading man in a traveling show, and my hair had begun to fall out. There isn't much demand for bald juvenile leading men, and I tried everything – sheep dip, what have you – and that just made it fall out faster."

Taylor explained that he had run for public office without the hairpiece and found that voters "didn't have much use for bald politicians", but "I ran the fourth time with it and won." His original toupée was made from a tin pie plate, which he lined with pink felt and swatches of human hair. In 1958, he was granted a patent (#2,850,023) for his innovative product.[33][34] Glen and Dora Taylor were successful manufacturing hair pieces, and Taylor Toppers became famous. The company, now known as Taylormade Hair Replacement, is still active in Millbrae.[35]

Glen and Dora Taylor had three sons between 1935 and 1942, Glen Arod – Dora spelled backward, followed by Paul Jon and Greg.[1]

Taylor died at age 80 in April 1984 due to complications from Alzheimer's disease;[1][6] Dora Taylor remained in the San Mateo County area until her death at age 93 in 1997.[35] They are interred at Skylawn Memorial Park in San Mateo.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Political maverick Glen Taylor dies". Spokane Chronicle (Washington). Associated Press. May 4, 1984. p. 11. 
  2. ^ a b c d Flint, Peter B. (May 5, 1984). "Glen H. Taylor of Idaho dies; Wallace running mate in '48". New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ Collier, Peter (April 1977). "Remembering Glen Taylor". Mother Jones News: 42–53. 
  4. ^ Is John Kerry A Liberal? (accessed January 20, 2012)
  5. ^ Peterson, F. Ross (1974). "Prophet without honor: Glen H. Taylor and the fight for American liberalism". University Press of Kentucky. pp. 2–3. 
  6. ^ a b c d e U.S. Senator Glen H. Taylor (1904–1094)
  7. ^ a b c Pratt, William C. "Glen H. Taylor: Public Image and Reality", Pacific Northwest Quarterly, January 1969. (accessed January 20, 2012)
  8. ^ GLEN TAYLOR Autograph (accessed January 19, 2012)
  9. ^ "Idaho's Senator Glen Taylor off on horse on trip". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). (AP photo). October 28, 1947. p. 16. 
  10. ^ "Taylor begins cross-nation 'peace' ride". Toledo Blade (Ohio). United Press. October 27, 1947. p. 3. 
  11. ^ "Horse-borne solon decides nag's no good". Tuscaloosa News (Alabama). United Press. October 30, 1947. p. 1. 
  12. ^ Othman, Frederick (November 9, 1947). "Why the senator rides a horse across nation". St. Petersburg Times (Florida). United Press. p. 27. 
  13. ^ "Taylor croons plea for home". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 4, 1945. p. 2. 
  14. ^ "Senator packs election punch". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. November 6, 1946. p. 2. 
  15. ^ "Taylor cracks jaw of political rival". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). Associated Press. November 6, 1946. p. 6. 
  16. ^ a b "U.S. Senator's Nose is Broken in Brawl". Charleston Gazette. Associated Press. November 9, 1946. p. 1. 
  17. ^ "Confusion Surrounds Taylor-McKaig Tift". Soda Springs Sun. United Press. November 14, 1946. p. 1. 
  18. ^ "Jaw in plaster, McKaig says Taylor "kicked me in face"". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). United Press. November 14, 1946. p. 3. 
  19. ^ "Sen. Taylor tells of battle of Boise hotel". Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah). Associated Press. November 8, 1946. p. 6. 
  20. ^ "Stassen Faces Severe Test In Nebraska", The Schenectady Gazette, June 10, 1946. (accessed January 19, 2012)
  21. ^ Our Campaigns – Candidate – Glen H. Taylor (accessed January 20, 2012)
  22. ^ Member's Death Ends a Senate Predicament (accessed January 19, 2012)
  23. ^ Diane McWhorter, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 2001), pp. 63–65.
  24. ^ SEN. TAYLOR STILL A DEMOCRAT, The Daily News (Huntingdon, Pennsylvania), March 3, 1948. (accessed January 19, 2012)
  25. ^ Schwantes, Carlos A. In Mountain Shadows: A History of Idaho, p. 242. (accessed January 20, 2012)
  26. ^ "Office of the Clerk: Election statistics". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Church-Taylor contest 'tightest' in history". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). Associated Press. August 15, 1956. p. 1. 
  28. ^ "Church still leads Taylor with canvasses completed". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. August 22, 1956. p. 1. 
  29. ^ Fleeson, Doris (September 5, 1956). "Frank Church promises Welker real test". Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah). (editorial). p. 18A. 
  30. ^ "Glen Taylor may head new splinter party". Sarasota Journal (Florida). Associated Press. October 8, 1956. p. 10. 
  31. ^ "Idaho balloting nearly ties record". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. November 8, 1956. p. 4. 
  32. ^ "Church rejects plan by ex-Senator Taylor". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 7, 1958. p. 6. 
  33. ^ "The Sen. Taylor toupee". Spartanburg Herald (South Carolina). September 10, 1958. p. 4. 
  34. ^ "Patent 2850023". Google. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  35. ^ a b Pimsleur, J. L. "OBITUARY – Dora Taylor", San Francisco Chronicle, June 21, 1997. (accessed January 20, 2012)

Further reading[edit]

Senator Glen H. Taylor, The Way It Was With Me (memoir), Lyle Stuart, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1979 ISBN 0-8184-0288-1

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
C. Ben Ross
Democratic Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
1940 special (lost), 1942 (lost)
Succeeded by
George E. Donart
Preceded by
D. Worth Clark
Democratic Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Idaho
1944 (won)
Succeeded by
D. Worth Clark
Preceded by
Progressive Party Vice Presidential nominee
1948 (lost)
Succeeded by
Charlotta Bass
Preceded by
Claude J. Burtenshaw
Democratic Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
1954 (lost)
Succeeded by
R. F. Bob McLaughlin
United States Senate
Preceded by
D. Worth Clark
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Idaho
January 3, 1945 – January 3, 1951
Served alongside: John W. Thomas, Charles C. Gossett, Henry Dworshak, Bert H. Miller
Succeeded by
Herman Welker