Rod Taylor Dies at 84

Taylor suffered a heart attack and died on 7 January 2015 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 84.

 

Rodney Sturt “Rod” Taylor (11 January 1930 – 7 January 2015) was an Australian actor of film and television. He appeared in over 50 films, including leading roles in The Time Machine, Seven Seas to Calais, The Birds, Sunday in New York, Young Cassidy, Dark of the Sun, The Liquidator, and The Train Robbers.

Taylor was born on 11 January 1930 in Lidcombe, a suburb of Sydney, the only child of William Sturt Taylor, a steel construction contractor and commercial artist, and Mona Taylor (née Thompson), a writer of more than a hundred short stories and children’s books. Taylor acquired extensive radio and stage experience in Australia, where his radio work included a period on Blue Hills and a role as Tarzan. Earlier in his career he had to support himself by working at Sydney’s Mark Foy’s department store designing and painting window and other displays during the day.

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Taylor soon landed roles in television shows such as Studio 57 and the films Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) and Giant (1956). In 1955 he guest-starred in the third episode (“The Argonauts”) of the first hour-long western television series, Cheyenne, an ABC program starring Clint Walker. Taylor and Edward Andrews played gold seekers Clancy and Duncan, respectively, who are best friends until they strike it rich, only to see native Americans release their gold dust to the wind. The episode was a remake of the film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).

Taylor’s first leading role in a feature film was in The Time Machine (1960), George Pal’s adaptation of the science-fiction classic by H. G. Wells with Taylor as the time traveler who, thousands of years in the future, falls for a woman played by Yvette Mimieux. Taylor played a character not unlike that of his Twilight Zone episode of a year earlier.

Taylor starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s horror/thriller The Birds (1963) along with Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright, and Jessica Tandy, playing a man whose town and home come under attack by menacing birds. Taylor then starred with Jane Fonda in the romantic comedy Sunday in New York (also 1963).

During the mid-’60s, Taylor worked mostly for MGM. His credits including The V.I.P.s (1963) with Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and Maggie Smith; Fate Is the Hunter (for 20th Century Fox, 1964) with Suzanne Pleshette; 36 Hours (1964) with James Garner; Young Cassidy (1965) with Julie Christie and Maggie Smith; The Liquidator (1965) with Jill St. John; and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) with Doris Day.

 

Theatre Work

 

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (Independent, 1950)

Home of the Brave by Arthur Laurents (Independent, 1950)

Misalliance by George Bernard Shaw (John Alden Company, 1951)

Twins by Plautus (Mercury, 1952)

Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare (Mercury, 1952)

The Witch by John Masefield (Mercury, 1952)

They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard (Mercury, 1952)

The Happy Time by Samuel A. Taylor (Mercury, 1953)

Movies

King of the Coral Sea (1954) (film debut)
Long John Silver (1954)
The Virgin Queen (1955)
Hell on Frisco Bay (1955)
Top Gun (1955)
World Without End (1956)
The Catered Affair (1956)
Giant (1956)
Raintree County (1957)
Separate Tables (1958)
Step Down to Terror (1958)
And When the Sky Was Opened (1959)
Ask Any Girl (1959)
The Time Machine (1960)
Colossus and the Amazon Queen (1960)
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) (voice)
Seven Seas to Calais (1962)
The Birds (1963)
A Gathering of Eagles (1963)
The V.I.P.s (1963)
Sunday in New York (1963)
Fate Is the Hunter (1964)
36 Hours (1965)
Young Cassidy (1965)
The Liquidator (1965)
Do Not Disturb (1965)
The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
Hotel (1967)
Chuka (1967)
Dark of the Sun (1968)
Nobody Runs Forever (1968) (aka The High Commissioner)
The Hell with Heroes (1968)
Zabriskie Point (1970)
Darker than Amber (1970)
The Man Who Had Power Over Women (1970)
Powderkeg (1971) (TV)
Family Flight (1972) (TV)
The Train Robbers (1973)
Gli eroi (1973) (aka The Heroes)
Trader Horn (1973)
The Deadly Trackers (1973)
Hell River (1974) (aka Partizani)
Blondie (1975)
A Matter of Wife… And Death (1976) (TV)
The Oregon Trail (1976) (TV)
The Picture Show Man (1977)
The Treasure Seekers (1979)
Cry of the Innocent (1980) (TV)
A Time to Die (1983)
On the Run (1983)
Terror in the Aisles (1984)
Mask of Murder (1985)
Half Nelson (1985) (TV)
Marbella, un golpe de cinco estrellas (1985)
Danielle Steel’s ‘Palomino’ (1991) (TV)
Grass Roots (1992) (TV)
Point of Betrayal (1995)
Welcome to Woop Woop (1998)
Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy (1998) (TV)
KAW (2007) (TV)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)

His daughter Felicia Taylor, a former CNN News correspondent, said in a statement: “My dad loved his work. Being an actor was his passion – calling it an honorable art and something he couldn’t live without.”

Holding the Man on DVD Here