Robert Fuller was born in Troy, New York, on 29th July 1933, at 1.50pm, and was raised in Key West, Florida. He was an only child and his birth name was Leonard Leroy Lee, nicknamed Buddy by his friends.
Robert started his education at St Mary’s in New York. When his mother, Betty, divorced she and Robert moved to Florida where she was a nightclub dancer. Robert was put into Miami Military Academy for his 5th and 6th grade years. Seventh grade he attended public school.
At this time Betty met and married Robert Simpson, a Naval officer, and the family moved to Chicago for one year. They returned to Key West where Robert, now 15, attended Key West High for 9th grade.
Robert quit school after 9th grade as he did not enjoy school and openly admits he did not do well. He worked a variety of jobs before moving to Hollywood.
When his mother married Robert Simpson, Robert took the name Robert Simpson, Jr. This changed when Robert started acting and he decided he needed a stage name. At the time he had no idea what his name should be but he had ancestors whose last name was Fuller and he figured that went well with his first name so the handle ROBERT FULLER was created.
Robert was very close to his step-
After the move to Hollywood, Robert had several jobs. The most significant of these was at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where he started as a doorman and worked his way up, at age 18, to Assistant Manager. He met a number of people around his own age who were members of the Screen Extras Guild (SEG), and they convinced him to join as they were earning significantly more money than Robert. This was the start of Robert’s journey into acting, and it was at this time he changed his name from Robert Simpson, Jr to Robert Fuller.
Eventually, Betty convinced Robert Simpson to quit the Navy. She taught him to dance, and this led to them opening a dance school in Key West. In the daytime Robert’s mother taught ballet to the local children and in the evening both parents taught ballroom dancing to the hundreds of Navy personnel who were stationed in Key West at that time.
In 1950, when Robert was 16, his parents decided to move to Hollywood. Robert’s dad became a very accomplished dancer, and decided to get into the motion picture business, which he did successfully. His dad subsequently changed his name to Robert Cole and danced in almost every musical made in Hollywood between 1950 and his retirement in 1987. This included working in many top grade musicals such as “Oklahoma”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”.
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