Rod Taylor

Last updated

Rod Taylor
Rod Taylor - 1963.jpg
Taylor in The V.I.P.s (1963)
Rodney Sturt Taylor

(1930-01-11)11 January 1930
Died7 January 2015(2015-01-07) (aged 84)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)
Education Parramatta High School
Years active1951–2009
Peggy Williams
(m. 1951;div. 1954)

Mary Hilem
(m. 1963;div. 1969)

Carol Kikumura(m. 19802015)
(his death)
Children Felicia Taylor

Rodney Sturt Taylor (11 January 1930 – 7 January 2015) was an Australian-born actor. He appeared in more than 50 feature films, including The Time Machine (1960), The Birds (1963), One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), 36 Hours (1965), Hotel (1967), Chuka (1967), and The Hell with Heroes (1968).

<i>The Time Machine</i> (1960 film) 1960 film by George Pal

The Time Machine is a 1960 American science fiction film in Metrocolor from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, produced and directed by George Pal, that stars Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, and Alan Young. The film was based on the 1895 novella of the same name by H. G. Wells that was influential on the development of science fiction.

<i>The Birds</i> (film) 1963 film by Alfred Hitchcock

The Birds is a 1963 American horror-thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the 1952 story of the same name by Daphne du Maurier. It focuses on a series of sudden, unexplained violent bird attacks on the people of Bodega Bay, California over the course of a few days.

<i>One Hundred and One Dalmatians</i> 1961 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney

One Hundred and One Dalmatians, often abbreviated as 101 Dalmatians, is a 1961 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, and Wolfgang Reitherman, it was Disney's 17th animated feature film. The film tells the story of a litter of Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by the villainous Cruella de Vil, who wants to use their fur to make into coats. Their parents, Pongo and Perdita, set out to save their children from Cruella, all the while rescuing 84 additional puppies that were bought in pet shops, bringing the total of Dalmatians to 101.


Early life

Taylor was born on 11 January 1930 [1] 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. His middle name comes from his great-great grand uncle, Captain Charles Sturt, a British explorer of the Australian Outback in the 19th century.

Sydney State capital of New South Wales and most populous city in Australia and Oceania

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

Charles Sturt Australian explorer

Captain Charles Napier Sturt was a British explorer of Australia, and part of the European exploration of Australia. He led several expeditions into the interior of the continent, starting from both Sydney and later from Adelaide. His expeditions traced several of the westward-flowing rivers, establishing that they all merged into the Murray River. He was searching to prove his own passionately held belief that there was an "inland sea" at the centre of the continent.

Taylor attended Parramatta High School and later studied at the East Sydney Technical and Fine Arts College. For a time he worked as a commercial artist, but decided to become an actor after seeing Laurence Olivier in an Old Vic touring production of Richard III . [2]

Parramatta High School

Parramatta High School is a government-funded co-educational dual modality partially academically selective and comprehensive secondary day school, located on the Great Western Highway in the central business district of Parramatta, a western suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

UNSW Art & Design University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts

The University of New South Wales Faculty of Art and Design is the creative arts faculty of the University of New South Wales and is located on Oxford Street, Paddington, Sydney, Australia.

Laurence Olivier 20th-century English actor, director and producer

Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, was an English actor and director who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft and John Gielgud, dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century. He also worked in films throughout his career, playing more than fifty cinema roles. Late in his career, he had considerable success in television roles.



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. [3] In 1951, he took part in a re-enactment of Charles Sturt's voyage down the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers, playing Sturt's offsider, George Macleay. A short documentary, Inland with Sturt (1951), was based on it. Taylor also appeared in a number of theatre productions for Australia's Mercury Theatre.

Blue Hills, written by Gwen Meredith, is an Australian radio serial about the lives of families in a typical Australian country town called Tanimbla. The title "Blue Hills" itself derives from the residence of the town's doctor.

Tarzan fictional character from Edgar Rice Burroughss Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungle by the Mangani great apes; he later experiences civilization only to reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes, and subsequently in 25 sequels, several authorized books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, both authorized and unauthorized. The film version of Tarzan as the noble savage, as acted by Johnny Weissmuller, does not reflect the original character in the novels, who is gracious and highly sophisticated.

Mark Foys

Mark Foy's Limited or Mark Foy's was a department store in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, founded by Francis Foy and his brother Mark Foy. The department store was named after their father, Mark Foy (senior) and traded between 1885 and 1980.

Taylor made his feature film debut in the Australian Lee Robinson film King of the Coral Sea (1954), playing an American. He later played Israel Hands in a Hollywood-financed film shot in Sydney, Long John Silver (1954), an unofficial sequel to Treasure Island . Following these two films, Taylor was awarded the 1954 Rola Show Australian Radio Actor of the Year Award, [4] which included a ticket to London via Los Angeles, but Taylor did not continue on to London.

Lee Robinson was an Australian producer, director and screenwriter who was Australia's most prolific filmmaker of the 1950s.

King of the Coral Sea is a 1954 film starring Chips Rafferty and Charles Tingwell, directed by Lee Robinson and shot on location in Thursday Island. It was one of the most commercially successful Australian films of the 1950s and marked the feature film debut of Rod Taylor.

Israel Hands was an 18th-century pirate, also known as Basilica Hands. He is best known for being second in command to the infamous pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.


Taylor (seated) with Lloyd Bochner in the TV series Hong Kong, 1961 Rod Taylor Lloyd Bochner Hong Kong 1961.JPG
Taylor (seated) with Lloyd Bochner in the TV series Hong Kong , 1961

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 was considered for one of the leads in Warner Bros. Television's Maverick .

<i>Studio 57</i> television series

Studio 57 is an American anthology series that was broadcast on the now-defunct DuMont Television Network from September 1954 to July 1955, and in syndication from 1955 to 1958.

<i>Hell on Frisco Bay</i> 1955 film by Frank Tuttle

Hell on Frisco Bay is a 1955 American CinemaScope Warnercolor film noir crime film directed by Frank Tuttle, starring Alan Ladd, Edward G. Robinson and Joanne Dru. It was made for Ladd's own production company, Jaguar.

<i>Giant</i> (1956 film) 1956 American film directed by George Stevens

Giant is a 1956 American epic Western drama film, directed by George Stevens from a screenplay adapted by Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat from Edna Ferber's 1952 novel. The film stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean and features Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Elsa Cardenas and Earl Holliman. Giant was the last of James Dean's three films as a leading actor, and earned him his second and last Academy Award nomination – he was killed in a car accident before the film was released. Nick Adams was called in to do some voice dubbing for Dean's role.

Toward the end of 1955, Taylor unsuccessfully screen tested to play boxer Rocky Graziano in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Somebody Up There Likes Me after James Dean's death, but his use of a Brooklyn accent and physical prowess in the test impressed the studio enough to gain him a long-term contract. At MGM, he played a series of support roles in The Catered Affair (1956), [5] Raintree County (1957), and Ask Any Girl (1959). He had a significant role in Separate Tables (1958), which won Oscars for two of its stars, David Niven and Wendy Hiller. He also made a strong impression guest-starring in an episode of The Twilight Zone titled "And When the Sky Was Opened" (1959).


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 traveller 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 and the film World Without End in 1956.

In or around 1960, he was approached regarding the role of James Bond in the first feature-length Bond film. Taylor reportedly declined to become involved because he considered the character of Bond "beneath him". [6] Taylor later commented: "Every time a new Bond picture became a smash hit ... I tore out my hair."

In the 1960–1961 television season, Taylor starred as foreign correspondent Glenn Evans in the ABC dramatic series Hong Kong . His principal co-star was Lloyd Bochner; Jack Kruschen played the bartender, Tully. The program faced stiff competition on Wednesday evenings from NBC's Wagon Train , hence lasted for only one season. He voiced Pongo (a Dalmatian dog) in Disney's animated feature One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) and also guest-starred on Marilyn Maxwell's short-lived ABC series Bus Stop around the same time. In 1962, he starred in an episode of NBC's The DuPont Show of the Week ("The Ordeal of Dr. Shannon"), an adaptation of A. J. Cronin's novel Shannon's Way .

Taylor starred in Alfred Hitchcock's horror/thriller The Birds (1963), along with Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette, a teenaged 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-1960s, Taylor worked mostly for MGM. His credits including The V.I.P.s (1963), his first feature film role as an Australian, with Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and Maggie Smith; Fate Is the Hunter (for 20th Century Fox, 1964) with Glenn Ford and Suzanne Pleshette; 36 Hours (1964) with James Garner; Young Cassidy (1965) with Julie Christie and Maggie Smith; The Liquidator (1965) with Jill St. John; Do Not Disturb (1965); and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), both co-starring Doris Day.

He began to change his image toward the end of the decade to more tough-guy roles, such as Chuka (1967), which he also produced, and he starred in Dark of the Sun (or The Mercenaries, 1968), again with Yvette Mimieux; Nobody Runs Forever (1968) where he played New South Wales Police Sergeant Scobie Malone, this being Taylor's first starring feature film role as an Australian; and Darker than Amber (1970) as Travis McGee.

He was also reportedly up for the role of martial artist Roper in the Bruce Lee vehicle Enter the Dragon (1973). The film was directed by Robert Clouse, who had also directed Taylor in the film Darker than Amber (1970). Taylor was supposedly deemed too tall for the part, and the role instead went to John Saxon. [7]

Later career

In 1973, Taylor was cast in The Train Robbers with John Wayne and Ann-Margret. The film was a box office success. Taylor also had some television roles: he starred in Bearcats! (1971) on CBS and in The Oregon Trail (1976) on NBC. He had a regular role in the short-lived spy drama series Masquerade (1983) and played one of the leads in the equally short-lived series, Outlaws (1986). From 1988 to 1990, Taylor appeared in the CBS drama series Falcon Crest as Frank Agretti, playing opposite Jane Wyman. In the mid 1990s, he appeared in several episodes of Murder, She Wrote and Walker, Texas Ranger .

In 1993, he hosted the documentary Time Machine: The Journey Back . The special ended with a mini-sequel written by David Duncan, the screenwriter of the George Pal film. Taylor recreated his role as George, reuniting him with Filby (Alan Young).

Taylor returned to Australia several times over the years to make films, playing a 1920s traveling showman in The Picture Show Man (1977) and a paid killer in On the Run (1983). In the black comedy Welcome to Woop Woop (1997), he played the foul-mouthed redneck Daddy-O.

By the late 1990s, Taylor had moved into semi-retirement. In 2007, he appeared in the horror telemovie Kaw , which revisits the idea of marauding birds turning on their human tormentors. In this film, however, the cause of the disturbance was discovered by Taylor who plays the town doctor. He appeared in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds in 2009, portraying Winston Churchill in a cameo. [8] In 2017, a documentary on Taylor's life, "Pulling No Punches", was released and entered into the Beverly Hills Film Festival.

Personal life

Taylor married his third wife, Carol Kikumura, on 15 October 1980. He was the father of now retired CNN financial reporter Felicia Taylor (born 1964) from his second marriage to model Mary Hilem (1 June 1963 – 18 September 1969). His first wife was model Peggy Williams (1951–1954).


Taylor died of a heart attack on January 7, 2015, in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 84, four days short of his 85th birthday. [9] [10] Kikumura-Taylor survives him.


Feature films



As a regular

Taylor had several lead roles in television, from the early 1960s to the early first decade of the 21st century. Among his television shows as a regular are:

Guest appearances

Theatre credits

Related Research Articles

John Mills English actor

Sir John Mills, was an English actor who appeared in more than 120 films in a career spanning seven decades. On screen, he often played people who are not at all exceptional, but become heroes because of their common sense, generosity and good judgment. He received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Ryan's Daughter (1970).

Richard Todd Irish-British actor

Richard Andrew Palethorpe Todd was an Irish-born English actor. He received a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Male, as well as an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor nomination for his role in the film The Hasty Heart (1949).

Trevor Howard English film, stage and television actor

Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith, known as Trevor Howard, was an English actor. After varied stage work, he achieved star status with his role in the film Brief Encounter (1945), followed by The Third Man (1949). This led to many popular appearances on film and TV.

The year 1958 in television involved some significant events. Below is a list of television-related events during 1958.

Kenneth More English film and stage actor

Kenneth Gilbert More, CBE was a British film and stage actor.

Richard Deacon (actor) American actor

Richard Deacon was an American television and motion picture actor, best known for playing supporting roles in television shows such as The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave It To Beaver, and The Jack Benny Program along with minor roles in films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.

Lee Patterson Canadian actor

Lee Patterson was a Canadian film and television actor.

John Gregson 1919-1975; English actor

John Gregson was an English actor of stage, television and film, with 40 credited film roles. He was best known for his comedy roles.

<i>Playhouse 90</i> television series

Playhouse 90 was an American television anthology drama series that aired on CBS from 1956 to 1960 for a total of 133 episodes. The show was produced at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, California. Since live anthology drama series of the mid-1950s usually were hour-long shows, the title highlighted the network's intention to present something unusual: a weekly series of hour-and-a-half-long dramas rather than 60-minute plays.

Lionel Jeffries English actor, screenwriter and film director

Lionel Charles Jeffries was an English actor, screenwriter and film director.

Everett Sloane American actor

Everett H. Sloane was an American character actor who worked in radio, theatre, films and television. He was also a songwriter and theatre director.

Don Sharp Australian-British film director

Donald Herman Sharp was an Australian-born British film director.

<i>Welcome to Woop Woop</i> 1997 film by Stephan Elliott

Welcome to Woop Woop is a 1997 Australian comedy film directed by Stephan Elliott and starring Johnathon Schaech and Rod Taylor. The film was based on the novel The Dead Heart by Douglas Kennedy. "Woop Woop" is an Australian colloquialism referring to a fictional location in the middle of nowhere.

John Hoyt American actor

John Hoyt was an American stage, film, and television actor. He began his acting career on Broadway, later appearing in numerous films and television series.

Grant Taylor, full name Ronald Grant Taylor, was an English-born actor best known as the abrasive General Henderson in the Gerry Anderson science fiction series UFO and for his lead role in Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940).

Michael Pate television actor

Michael Pate was an Australian actor, writer, director, and World War II army veteran.

Guy Doleman New Zealand actor

Guy Doleman was a New Zealand-born actor.

Ronald Lewis (actor) British actor

Ronald Glasfryn Lewis, was a Welsh actor, best known for his appearances in British films of the 1950s and 1960s.

Eddie Ryder American television and film actor

Eddie Ryder was an American television and film actor, as well as a writer and television director. Ryder was born in New York City and died in El Paso, Texas.

Bartlett Robinson American actor

Bartlett Whitney Robinson was an American actor who performed on radio, the stage, in films, and on television for five decades. In 1943 he was the first actor of several performers who provided the voice of the title character on the radio version of Perry Mason. Later, as a character actor in films and on television, he was often cast in roles of authority figures, such as military officers, wealthy ranchers, corporate executives, doctors, and judges. Robinson appeared in 21 films from 1956 to 1973 and in over 110 television productions between 1949 and 1982. He was also credited as Bart Robinson.


  1. Sydney Morning Herald, Birth Announcements, Saturday 18 January 1930, page 16
  2. Stephen Vagg Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010
  3. "The Complete Rod Taylor Site: Radio" . Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  4. "The Complete Rod Taylor Site: Radio" . Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  5. Saragossi, Steve Taylor-MadeCinema Retro Vol. 7 Issue 19
  6. Mark Juddery, "Rod Taylor, the Hollywood star, who never forgot he was an Aussie", Sydney Morning Herald 13 January 2015 (access: 7 September 2018).
  7. City On Fire (audio commentatary)
  8. Eyman, Scott (23 August 2009). "Tarantino Comes Calling With A Role For Rod Taylor". The Miami Herald . Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  9. Courier-Mail, 9 January 2015, Australian actor Rod Taylor dead at 84, legendary star suffers a heart attack at Beverly Hills home
  10. "Rod Taylor, 'The Birds' and 'The Time Machine' Star, Dies at 84". Variety. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.