Rod Taylor, who portrayed some of the most iconic characters we all grew up with and idolised has passed away at the age of 84.
Born Rodney Sturt Taylor in Sydney, Australia on January 11th, 1930, Mr Taylor took to acting in his late teens while working a variety of tough jobs honing his craft. Landing his first role in Inland with Sturt as George McLeay, which was a sign of good luck being as that was his middle name.
Arriving in the United States, he began to land roles in feature films and television which included General Electric Theater, Playhouse 90, Schlitz Playhouse, Lux Playhouse and Studio 57, working with many other future stars.
His first role in a science fiction film was in Allied Artists’ World Without End, in which a group of astronauts on an expedition to Mars in 1956 end up back on Earth 500 years later.
Mr Taylor was chosen for his good looks and acting ability to play time traveller, H. George Wells in The Time Machine, released in 1960. The movie has become a beloved classic with every sci-fi film fan.
At Disney, he voiced the happy-go-lucky, Pogo for the animated 101 Dalmatians, he worked with Alfred Hitchcock in Universal’s horror film, The Birds, and for Rod Serling in a famous episode of The Twilight Zone, And When the Sky Was Opened.
STARBURST’s US correspondent Whitney Scott Bain adds a personal tribute:
“I had the great fortune to meet Mr Taylor of the set of the Universal TV series, OUTLAWS where I got to spend some time talking to him about THE TIME MACHINE and two of my other favourite films of his, DARKER THAN AMBER and DARK OF THE SUN. Mr Taylor did all of his own stunts in THE TIME MACHINE as well as many other films. In DARKER THAN AMBER, where he played private eye Travis McGee, the brutal fight scene with actor William Smith (which is usually edited out on many DVD copies or broadcast television) got out of hand. Mr Smith ended up breaking Mr Taylor’s nose while Mr Smith ended up with three broken ribs. They became friends after that. DARK OF THE SUN was a good action-adventure film that Mr Taylor enjoyed though there was a disagreement between him and co-star actor/ former football player Jim Brown where Mr Taylor ended up knocking him to the ground.”
“Mr Taylor was kind enough to sign my TIME MACHINE and DARK OF THE SUN posters and I gave him a WORLD WITHOUT END movie poster, that he had never seen before, in return as a gift. I told him that I looked up to the characters he portrayed and that him playing H. George Wells was my favourite since I was a kid that I wanted to be everything the time traveller character represented, and that he was and always would be my hero. Mr Taylor smiled, laughing and gave me a playful punch on the side of my face and said, ‘You’re still a kid!’”
One of his last great roles was in the seldom-seen Australian gem, The Picture Show Man about a traveling father and son who screened silent films and performed vaudeville in the outdoors during Australia’s early days of cinema.
His final role was Winston Churchill in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.
Mr Taylor once said that had no regrets in life. That he had his day as a man of action and in time new, talented younger actors would take his place stating that’s why Olympic records are broken.
Mr Taylor had charm and class. A true gentleman who was a man’s man; the likes we will never see again.
We at STARBURST send our thoughts to his family and friends.
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