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 Post subject: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:09 am 
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Prince Judah
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Rod Taylor is the man -- or, as has been repeated many times by those who know him, he is a Man's Man, a clear representative of the Aussie male, more masculine than even all his macho acting peers in cinema. This was his appeal as a movie star, including the unparalleled confidence, something which the best male stars - such as Heston - have in abundance. This is not something everyone admires - Rod has also been regarded as brash, loud, stubborn, insulting, obnoxious and drunken in his real life, especially when his ego got a little out of control in the late sixties, when he was a big star. But, look at him in one of his most famous roles, in the photo above left; see the determination there, the resolve, as he sets out on a fantastic, unprecedented adventure; he was the kind that always got it done and you were comforted to know that things would turn out all right with Rod at the helm. And, in his real life, there are many more who describe him as the greatest guy in the world - as it goes in real life, it depends on the people who knew him. He definitely mellowed in the eighties, after becoming a happily married man.

I'll warn all members ahead of time that the write-up below turned out to be twice as long as I intended. Mostly, this is because I have been reading his biography by Stephen Vagg {(2012-02-07). Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood (Kindle Location 164). BearManor Media. Kindle Edition} and much of the material I wrote is from there, sort of a condensed version of a whole book. So, for those who want to find out all about Rod's career and how he got started, it's all there below. I think it's an interesting life - again, like Heston - seeing someone march through life as an actor and enact all these great roles on film and TV. This quote from Rod in 1961 - the year I was born - sums up him and his career pretty well:

Quote:
“I want to go on and on until I’m 90. Acting is something I love. The fact that I’m going to be unsuccessful at times is pretty well balanced by the fact that I’m going to be successful at others. It doesn’t frighten me. I’m not doing my work for constant success. I’m doing it because I love it.”


>>>>>>> Vagg, Stephen (2012-02-07). Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood (Kindle Locations 5309-5311). BearManor Media. Kindle Edition.


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 Post subject: Re: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:13 am 
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Prince Judah
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Rod Taylor, before he became a Hollywood star, got his start in Australia and this makes him the precursor of such later stars as Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe, who also hailed from down under. Nowadays, there are Aussie stars a'plenty, but in Rod's time, it was rare. The only big stars from there who preceded him were Errol Flynn and Peter Finch (though there were numerous character actors like Cecil Kellaway and Michael Pate), so Rod was a rare bird - in more ways than one. As it states at The Complete Rod Taylor Site > http://www.rodtaylorsite.com/whyrod.shtml - there's no one else like him.

He was born in Lidcombe, a suburb of Sydney, on January 11, 1930, to Bill Sturt Taylor and his wife Mona. A gifted athlete and academically excelling at an early age, he was also described as a "show-off" and having a swagger - always an actor when dramatically playing cowboys & Indians. Yet, he didn't show any interest in acting as a profession into his teen years, instead having a passion for drawing and art. This creative side he seems to have inherited from his writer mother, while the taste for alcohol and rough edges were from his construction contractor dad - though his father was also a commercial artist. His academic record enabled him to go to a selective high school, one requiring a test, and there he excelled at individual sports, such as holding a record for shot-put and being a champion swimmer.

He did show some signs of being aware of the acting world during high school, such as imitating Errol Flynn, but there was nothing serious there. Though he had the option of staying on two more years, he left HS as 1944 ended and, encouraged by his parents, elected to study art at East Sydney Technical College in the inner-city suburb of Darlinghurst - this was the late forties. There, he developed a reputation as a lady-killer and even as a kind of Greek god due to his impressive physique (he posed for art classes), but he was also known for his well-mannered, intellectual approach. Later, he added boxing to his athletic pursuits, which would serve him well in his later action roles in film. He also began to hang out at the Mona Vale Surf Club on weekends, where he "learnt about life" from the oafs and hoodlums who abounded there.
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The overall picture of Rod at this art school, however, was that he took it less seriously than most - he was expelled after 3 years, for reasons unclear; rumor has it he flung clay at someone, but he did confirm his expulsion in a 1973 interview. He did try to make a go of being an artist for a living, sharing a flat with 3 others in a pottery business which only lasted about a year. The partnership dissolved and Rod found that his interest in painting was waning; instead, his new passion was acting. As Rod himself has claimed, the one person most responsible for igniting his interest in acting was Laurence Olivier. In 1948, Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh toured Australia and New Zealand with the Old Vic Company. For anyone even slightly interested in acting, the visit must have been a galvanizing experience.

Rod's parents were not happy with this development, but he began taking acting lessons at the Independent Theatre School of Dramatic Art in North Sydney. Studying was one thing, but getting actual work was something else. Radio was flourishing at this time and that's where Rod got his start - 1945 to 1955 are known in broadcasting today as the “Golden Age” of Australian radio drama. Rod was credited as Rodney Taylor during these years; it was also when he indulged in heavy social drinking - some of this was for the career, the contacts. So, in the early 1950s, Rod Taylor’s two identities began to emerge: the tough, beer-drinking “Rod” of the pub and the smooth, plum-voiced “Rodney” of the microphone. He also received his most important training from the husband-and-wife team of Georgie Sterling and John Saul. Besides reading Dickens and Shakespeare, he was instructed to study up on the new actors - Brando, Montgomery Clift, Rod Steiger, even Henry Fonda.
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Rod really admired Brando and singled out a famous scene from On the Waterfront as a favorite, watching it repeatedly. However, Rod did not fully embrace the "Method" form of acting, believing it to be a bit self-indulgent, preferring Fonda's technique of “disguise acting… not to let acting show.” Eventually, Rod's personal style evolved into a mix of many things: take a bit of the Method, add a dash of training from the Independent Theatre, throw in some Stanislavski, mix in Henry Fonda and Brando, add dollops of Saul and Sterling, heat it up with a lot of Rod Taylor himself (the pubs, the physicality, the art) and add some seasoning through (it must be admitted) alcohol. Rod also did a little bit of stage acting in the early fifties, mainly for the Mercury Theatre, for which he did 5 shows. But, he left the stage behind forever after starting in film.

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Rod's first experience in film ended up being in a 20-minute 1951 Australian quasi-documentary Inland With Sturt, which was a re-enactment of Sir Charles Sturt’s 1829-1830 expedition down the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers. The six-week trip would follow the exact same route as Sturt and his crew, using a combination of personnel from the ABC and the armed forces. Rod replaced actor Charles Tingwell (who got a better offer) as Sturt's 2nd in command. Rod was actually related to the famous explorer (he was his great-great grandfather), but probably got the job due to his rowing abilities.
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The Australian film industry, in which Rod first worked as a film actor, hardly existed in the fifties. It would not enjoy a surge until the late sixties. Rod's first feature film role was in King of the Coral Sea (1954), the 2nd of several fifties action B-movies starring Chips Rafferty. Rod had worked with writer/director Lee Robinson in radio and knew him socially, so he got the supporting role of a tough American in the film, supposedly written just for him. Rod’s salary was £40 (about $80) a week - not much, but Rod enjoyed the experience, so much so that he asked to remain with the film unit filming at Thursday Island even after his role was completed. Because the Australian film world was so small then, Rod was already considered one of its male stars at this point, third only to Aussie actors Rafferty and Charles Tingwell. To emphasize this, Rod was already getting scripts written for him and he was cast in the only other feature film made in Australia that year, Long John Silver, the unofficial sequel to Treasure Island.
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Those familiar with the story of Treasure Island (including the 1990 TV remake with Heston) know that there's a character named Israel Hands, an abandoned pirate who returns in this sequel to haunt Jim Hawkins and is portrayed as some wild blind man of Borneo. Guy Doleman, the actor originally cast, asked for more money when he found out about the beard and contact lenses required for the role. Well, someone heard Rod on the radio and selected him as Guy's replacement. Now, the very young Rod had no business playing an old pirate but he threw himself into it, running over rocks, getting some minor injuries and once again enjoying it. Also that year -'54 - Rod got his luckiest break: winning the Rola Award for one of his radio roles. He received £500, a role in a radio play written especially for him — and a return ticket to England.
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Many of Rod's associates advised him to go to England, where many Australian actors had set up shop, but Charles Tingwell suggested that he stop off in Los Angeles on his way and, after Long John Silver, all the advice changed to: go to America. Rod's timing was good - already mentioned was the moribund film industry in Australia and then radio drama was going to take a big hit when TV came around in Australia in 1956, mostly American TV shows. Rod had done all he could do in his homeland. Despite hurdles involving his passport, Rod made it out quickly, but all the promising stuff in L.A. quickly faded - MCA agents meeting him at the airport didn't like what they saw and several planned film projects fell through. Only Hell on Frisco Bay, a small crime noir in which Rod would play a henchman, was made as planned months later. Rod lived in a dreary little apartment and actually fished for his food. But, the work drought was brief - he was picked up by the Louis Shurr Agency and rep Wilt Melnick was instrumental in jump-starting Rod's career.
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Rod’s first role in a Hollywood feature was in The Virgin Queen (1955), a two-million-dollar epic from 20th Century-Fox concerning the relationship between Sir Walter Raleigh (Richard Todd) and Queen Elizabeth I (Bette Davis). Director Henry Koster needed someone who could speak in a Welsh accent for the small role of a corporal who delivers a message to Todd and Rod fitted the bill. Roughly half of Rod’s roles in his first year in Hollywood saw him cast as an Englishman, notably the muscular astronaut in the entertaining sci-fi adventure World Without End (1956), which was a sizable heroic role for him (eerily anticipating his first starring role in another sci-fi adventure 4 years later) and showed that energized, boisterous side of him. But more impressive for his career was his small role in Giant (56), a huge $5.4 million adaptation of a best seller starring Elizabeth Taylor & Rock Hudson; Rod was able to act in a scene with them and got some good advice from preeminent director George Stevens.
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Rod won a contract with MGM for $450 a week and meaty supporting roles followed in quick succession in The Catered Affair (56) and Raintree County (57), though these had a tepid reception. Rod had some financial security now, but he renegotiated the contract to allow him to take jobs outside the studio. This set the stage for Rod's phase as 2nd lead in TV and film for a couple of years, meaning roles like supporting the female lead or playing the best friend of the male lead, such as in the small thriller Step Down to Terror, the big drama Separate Tables (58) and the light comedy Ask Any Girl (59). For TV, he confined his roles to anthology series, such as for Playhouse 90 (including a version of "The Great Gatsby") and the now-famous episode of The Twilight Zone, And When the Sky Was Opened. It was Rod's well-reviewed role in Ask Any Girl that caused MGM execs to look at him as the lead for their planned sci-fi film about time travel, based on a famous novel by H.G. Wells.
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In The Time Machine (1960), from producer/director George Pal, Rod played the genius yet brawny inventor who journeys into the far future. It also introduced Yvette Mimieux and co-starred Alan Young. Rod hesitated in accepting this starring role because sci-fi was not known for furthering an actor's career. But, the result was great and an eventual classic - his character combined toughness with intellectualism, a mighty combo; everyone agreed that this really put Rod on the map. However, it also placed him in limbo for months due to the FX, which had to be worked out before release of the film. At this point, Rod finally tried a TV series as a weekly regular role - Hong Kong, as an American news correspondent in that city. He set high terms - a salary of $3,750 per episode, plus 15% of the profits - but these were accepted. Things were delayed due to a Writers & Actors strike; again in a kind of limbo, Rod accepted an offer to make a film in Italy - Colossus and the Amazon Queen, one of those sword-and-sandals movies. This seems like a bizarre choice now, but for Rod it was simply a paid vacation - he was in the middle of an intense affair with Anita Ekberg. :twisted: Rod claimed that it was written as a drama and that he rewrote it as a comedy, and would only do it if his script was used. It is now one of those films that every big actor has in their past - the one they would prefer everyone forgot.
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Anyway, even though the show was canceled after one season, it was the Hong Kong series and the release of The Time Machine that made him a star. The series showed that Rod could hold center stage and emphasized his tough, rugged persona (perhaps better than any other of his roles). It did well in syndication and proved to be the 3rd most popular TV show in Australia. Rod also provided the voice for Pongo, the dog in the Disney animated film 101 Dalmatians (1961); his experience in radio served him well here. Then he played Sir Francis Drake in Seven Seas to Calais (62), a swashbuckler which had him back in Italy and the closest he got to an Errol Flynn-type of role. At this point, Rod formed his own production company, Rodlor, with immediate plans for 2 films. At the same time, 20th Century Fox studio also announced a group of films for Rod. He filmed another TV pilot but nothing came of all these plans, for various reasons. Once again, Rod seemed to be in limbo. Then, he was contacted by Alfred Hitchcock.
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For Hitchcock, Rod enacted the role of a tough, smart lawyer who is faced with mysterious attacks by birds, in the now-classic The Birds (1963). This solidified Rod's status as one of the top young leading men in Hollywood; in his own words, he was "made." He had many commitments to different movie companies. The first was A Gathering of Eagles (63), playing 2nd fiddle to Rock Hudson (then nearly the most popular actor) involving SAC (Strategic Air Command). Rod worked mostly for MGM in the remainder of the sixties: The V.I.P.s (63) was even more an indication that Rod had arrived, a star-studded (Burton & Taylor, Liz Taylor that is) big picture with Rod in the center of it all and actually playing an Australian for the first time. Sunday in New York paired him with Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy. Fate is the Hunter (64) had him again supporting a bigger star, Glenn Ford, as a pilot involved in a mysterious airplane crash. And, in the intriguing war thriller 36 Hours (1965), Rod was 2nd to James Garner in sort of a sympathetic villain role. Though he was not the main lead in this past year of films, these were all good roles, at times better than the leads.
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Finally, Rod began to star in films as the main lead, beginning with one of his most important roles, a famous Irish playwright in Young Cassidy (65). This was a biographical film and rested squarely on Rod's shoulders. More, it was to be directed by the legendary John Ford. But, Ford became ill after 2 weeks of filming and was replaced with Jack Cardiff. There were numerous other problems while filming in Ireland but it remains one of Rod's personal favorites. He was paired with the very popular Doris Day in 2 films - the weak comedy Do Not Disturb (65) and the more inventive The Glass Bottom Boat (66). In these, Rod played the part usually done by the likes of Cary Grant or Rock Hudson. But, it was the action hero roles that drove Rod's choices afterwards - these seemed forgettable at the time but have since gained an appreciation and are responsible for much of Rod's cult-like status with fans these days.
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The first of these was intended to possibly start an action franchise in the James Bond mold - The Liquidator (66). It was again directed by Cardiff and even had the title song sung by Shirley Bassey, famous for her Bond songs. But, legal problems caused a release delay of a few months and it wasn't a hit. I found it to be strangely entertaining the more time passed by, a parody of the spy thriller, with Rod curiously effective in it. Rod then starred in Hotel (67), a variation of the all-star VIPs but with less star power; it's quite watchable (it was done up as a TV series in the eighties). Rod then finally produced his first film and starred as the title character, Chuka, a grizzled gunfighter in this western about hostile Indians. He wasn't his usual gregarious self in this, instead grim and morose. The film had poor distribution due to being abandoned by the movie studio but had decent reviews.
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This led to Rod's best film and best role, as a mercenary in Dark of the Sun (1968), a.k.a. The Mercenaries, about a special mission in the Congo to retrieve diamonds. This was the role in which Rod could do no wrong - he was tough, brutal, professional, commanding and ultimately tragic in this exploration of violence in our modern world of continuing warfare and rebellion. The film was intended to follow in the footsteps of other 'men-on-a-mission' films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai (57) and Guns of Navarone (61) but was made at a time when films were becoming more explicit and visceral. This was the 3rd Rod Taylor film directed by Jack Cardiff. It also reunited him with Yvette Mimieux and co-starred Jim Brown, the new rising action star. Unfortunately, reviews were almost universally negative back then and this suggests that it was ahead of its time - it's revered in many quarters nowadays, including by some filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, who liked to tell a story about how Rod and Jim Brown got into a fight at a party and that, despite Jim being a football player, it was a fight that Rod won (perhaps due to his boxing skills).
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Rod followed up with another role as a pilot and soldier-of-fortune in The Hell With Heroes (68), about intrigue just after the 2nd World War in Africa, also starring Claudia Cardinale and a young Pete Deuel, who committed suicide only a few years later. Then Rod was in The High Commissioner, as an average Australian cop thrust into political intrigue in England, forcing him to act like a secret agent. It was fairly interesting. At this point, Rod's career took a strange turn - he took a small role in a film called Zabriskie Point (1970), the first (and only) American work from the legendary Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni. The main characters were a pair of student activists who end up in a desert to make love; Rod just had the role of a lawyer who represented the establishment. He did the drama The Man Who Had Power Over Women, as a London music agent. It now seems that Rod was getting away from his action roles and into dramatics because, due to his effective portrayals of 'men-of-action,' some people were actually afraid of him (some of his scenes in Dark of the Sun could be viewed as truly frightening by people). But this latest film disappeared, almost unseen, so he went on to action: as Travis McGee in Darker Than Amber, another possible series of films; this one was based on the 7th in a popular series of mystery novels by author John D. MacDonald about a Florida-based sleuth. It's remembered now for the vicious fight towards the end between Rod as Travis and the villain played by William Smith, some of which was for real.
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The McGee film was also a miss so that made five films in a row that lost money. It was time for Rod to try TV again - this he did in 1971 as another soldier-of-fortune in Bearcats! The series took place in 1914, featuring 2 mercs-for-hire. By coincidence, it was up against Alias Smith & Jones, a comedy western starring Pete Deuel just before he killed himself. It lost in the ratings and was canceled after one season (but, Rod wasn't alone - several series with big stars were canceled at that time). Rod did a TV movie called Family Flight (72), about a family crash-landed in the desert - it was his first role playing a father. He managed to nab 2nd lead in the latest John Wayne western, The Train Robbers (73); Wayne may have used his pull because they were friends. Then it was back to Italy for The Heroes, described by producer Alfred Bini as a “cross between M*A*S*H* (1970) and an Italo Western.” It was a lighthearted adventure tale about six people thrown together in North Africa during World War II who discover £2 million in an ambulance; Rod played an American soldier (sounds like a remake of Kelly's Heroes); it was never released in the U.S. Then there was Trader Horn, with Rod as the great white hunter leading a party through the jungle; it was barely seen, but I hear it's an old-fashioned adventure only marred by stock footage from the old King Solomon's Mines film.
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Rod's standing as a heroic star was not looking good at this point, with his latest films all but disappearing from public view, so maybe that's why he finally played a vile villain in the flawed, violent western The Deadly Trackers, going up against a vengeful sheriff played by Richard Harris. The film had a bad history, begun by Sam Fuller, canceled by the studio, then restarted with a different cast (except for a returning Harris) and director (Barry Shear); Rod was brought in to replace Bo Hopkins and was surprisingly effective, considering that he had always played the hero. He starred in a couple of other European films - the first was Partizani (74) a.k.a. Hell River, a war pic from Yugoslavia co-starring Adam West as a Nazi. It was unusual in that Rod was working with communists, was playing a guy who recently graduated from college (at age 44) and it was marred by the death of his good friend & handler in an auto accident. The other was Germacide a.k.a. Blondy (75) - again, this was not seen in the U.S., which is good since it's regarded by many as his worst film. He again turned to TV in 1976, filming a couple of pilots - A Matter of Wife... and Death (a remake of the Burt Reynolds film Shamus) and the family western The Oregon Trail; neither was picked up for a series, but after an interval, Rod learned that such westerns were back in style (like Wagon Train) and The Oregon Trail was indeed a go in 1977; this aired only 6 episodes (a DVD set of all 14 episodes was released in 2010).
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Rod's nadir as a leading man in theatrical films was reached with the adventure Jamaican Pie (or Jamaican Gold), in which he and Stuart Whitman starred as a pair of treasure hunters in the Caribbean. Even though Rod also contributed some scripting, he was paid for neither this or his acting, electing to take a percentage of the profits. But, this was never released. A couple of years later, Rod found out that it was released on video as The Treasure Seekers. As if to make up for this indignity, Rod took a small role in his 1st Australian film in 20 years, The Picture Show Man (77), about the adventures of a traveling film exhibitor in rural Australia during the 1920s. Ironically, Rod played an American in this and though his was not the main role, he was billed first because he still had some star status, especially in his homeland. But, it caused tension with the actual lead, John Mellion (Rod's associate from his radio days) and Australian critics were harsh about Rod, as if to punish him for his supposed impudence. Rod did another international picture, A Time to Die, and knew it was rotten while making it, despite classy actors like Rex Harrison (in his final film) in the cast; it wasn't released until years later, with added footage done without Rod's knowledge.
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It was obvious that Rod's film career had petered out after 25 years and, as the eighties began, character roles and TV was the way to go. He starred in a TV thriller, Cry of the Innocent, co-starring Cyril Cusack. The two quickly reunited for an episode of Tales of the Unexpected, The Hitch-Hiker. Then there was the Telly Savalas pilot Hellinger's Law as a mafia man and the splashy Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy telefilm, as her troublemaker father, as well as Charles & Diana, with Rod in a small role serving British royalty. He did play an Australian finally in an Australian film, On The Run, cast against type as a hitman out to kill his own nephew, but it was never meant to be released and went straight to TV. There were yet 2 more short-lived TV series: Masquerade (83-84) showed promise with Rod as the head of a spy agency, backed by young stars Kirstie Alley & Greg Evigan, but it played opposite big hits on TV and was quickly canceled. Outlaws (86-87) was about a lawman (Rod) and a gang from 1899 yanked into the present via freakish time travel, whereupon they form a detective agency (note that the premise uses the same year - 1899 - that Rod's character George started from in The Time Machine, though this series took place in America, while the earlier film took place in England). Again, it lasted only one season. Rod also starred in a couple of final international pictures in 1985: Marbella, a comedy crime caper, and Mask of Murder, about a serial killer. He capped off the 80s with a regular role on Falcon Crest, a popular nighttime soap opera which had been running on TV for several years already. He was brought on to provide a male interest for lead Jane Wyman.
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Now 60 and not getting younger, Rod slowed down and was definitely the elder character actor. His TV work included Palomino (91), as a ranch foreman (and reunited with Eva Marie Saint of 36 Hours) and the 2-part sequel to Chiefs, Grass Roots (92), as the sinister head of a white supremacy group. Perhaps his most interesting work in the 90s was in a documentary on The Time Machine, one of his now-classic films, called The Journey Back (93), which included a brief sequence of his character George (played by Rod again) reuniting with his friend played by Alan Young after many years, like a short sequel to the film. His work became more sporadic - a small but vital role in Open Season (as a TV bigwig), which was delayed for 3 years and Point of Betrayal (95), which was never released in the U.S., as well as the offbeat, irreverent Welcome to Woop Woop (98), which had him back as an Australian and uninhibited. He guest-starred on several episodes of Walker,Texas Ranger, the show with action star Chuck Norris. He also appeared as an old general in a sci-fi pilot, the cheesy-titled Warlord:Battle For the Galaxy (originally to be called The Osiris Chronicles). This was a proposed series for an anti-Star Trek storyline in which a galaxy-wide federation had fallen apart into anarchy. But, even though it was detailed and intriguing, no series resulted.
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Rod was now closing in on 70 as the nineties ended, but though Welcome to Woop Woop was a critical/commercial failure, it revitalized him personally. He acquired an Australian agent and it looked like he would be busy, but several planned projects came to nothing over the next several years, so he pretty much retired as the 21st century began. In 2007, he did appear in a SyFy Channel movie, KAW, which was a questionable homage to The Birds. He was then contacted by Quentin Tarantino, who wanted him for one scene as Churchill in his World War II fantasy Inglourious Basterds (2009); Rod happily obliged and, so far, this can be looked upon as his swan song in cinema - he is now the same age as Heston when Heston passed away, but still ticking along. He is, after all, a tough guy. :comegetsome:


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 Post subject: Re: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:30 pm 
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Thank God I read your second, longer post about Rod Taylor, otherwise I would have embarrassed myself to no end. I was thinking in my head "A man's man, really? The small guy in the ape suit and the wimpy has-been in Fright Night?!" I don't know why, but I always mix these two gentlemen up, Rod Taylor and Roddy McDowall. Besides the similar first names, maybe it's because I haven't seen nearly as much as I'd like to have from both of the the stars' careers, especially Rod Taylor. Thankfully I now know a great deal about his career thanks to your extensive post, Chrysagon. Seems like a body of work worth checking out.

I thought he was an excellent leading man and counterpart to Tippi Hedren's character in Hitchcock's The Birds, which has always been one of my favorite Hitchcock movies.

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 Post subject: Re: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:50 pm 
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Roddy McDowall and Rod Taylor, huh? OK, I see the similarity in the first names but I never made any connection between the two -- until now, that is :lol: . Now that I think about it, they both played astronauts in Twilight Zone episodes... btw, I thought I included pictures of Rod in my first post - does he look like Roddy McDowall in those? Interesting.

One strange thing about Rod Taylor in relation to his size (as you infer, Roddy McDowall was a very small guy) -- I always thought that Rod was a big guy in his movies, at least a six-footer; that's how he came across, very strong and manly. But, IMDb lists him as 5' 10" - about average. And, it gets stranger in that biography by Vagg, who keeps referring to Rod as this short guy and even mentions his specific height as 5' 7" at one point. Now, there's no way - to me - that Rod was that short, even with lifts in his shoes; I've seen him in many of his films and, again, he always looks 6 feet tall to me - but maybe that just goes to show how some stars can project a big image of themselves on the screen.

Related to this, I found out that Rod always had a strange love-hate relationship with his fellow Australians - he was a hero to them when he 'broke out' and made it big in Hollywood; this lasted through the early sixties - I read about the big deal that was made when The V.I.P.s film came out in 1963 and Rod was on a publicity tour in Australia. He was like the ultimate Australian star then. But, later, he was perceived to have turned his back on Australia (he eventually got U.S. citizenship) and I think many people in Australia resented him. This seeps in even in that book by Vagg; I think he's Australian. He praises Rod quite a bit throughout that biography but every now and then there's this hint of resentment, such as his mentions of Rod's short height and his big ego.

As far as checking out Rod's work, that's another thing - many of his films have been unavailable for a long time and some still aren't. The Warner Bros print-on-demand DVD site finally made some of his best films available recently, such as Dark of the Sun, Young Cassidy and The Liquidator. But, other films like The Hell With Heroes and Darker Than Amber I only finally watched by getting a DVD-R or a used VHS tape. Some of these, like Jamaican Gold/Treasure Seekers and Trader Horn, I still haven't seen and maybe never will. :comegetsome:


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 Post subject: Re: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:09 pm 
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Chrysagon wrote:
Roddy McDowall and Rod Taylor, huh? OK, I see the similarity in the first names but I never made any connection between the two -- until now, that is :lol: . Now that I think about it, they both played astronauts in Twilight Zone episodes... btw, I thought I included pictures of Rod in my first post - does he look like Roddy McDowall in those? Interesting.

That's another thing. I could only picture him as Peter Vincent at the time and thought he looked surprisingly handsome and masculine in the couple of photos you included.

Chrysagon wrote:
One strange thing about Rod Taylor in relation to his size (as you infer, Roddy McDowall was a very small guy) -- I always thought that Rod was a big guy in his movies, at least a six-footer; that's how he came across, very strong and manly. But, IMDb lists him as 5' 10" - about average. And, it gets stranger in that biography by Vagg, who keeps referring to Rod as this short guy and even mentions his specific height as 5' 7" at one point. Now, there's no way - to me - that Rod was that short, even with lifts in his shoes; I've seen him in many of his films and, again, he always looks 6 feet tall to me - but maybe that just goes to show how some stars can project a big image of themselves on the screen.

Thinking back on The Birds, I picture a pretty tall man, maybe Tippi Hedren was just a bit short?

Chrysagon wrote:
Related to this, I found out that Rod always had a strange love-hate relationship with his fellow Australians - he was a hero to them when he 'broke out' and made it big in Hollywood; this lasted through the early sixties - I read about the big deal that was made when The V.I.P.s film came out in 1963 and Rod was on a publicity tour in Australia. He was like the ultimate Australian star then. But, later, he was perceived to have turned his back on Australia (he eventually got U.S. citizenship) and I think many people in Australia resented him. This seeps in even in that book by Vagg; I think he's Australian. He praises Rod quite a bit throughout that biography but every now and then there's this hint of resentment, such as his mentions of Rod's short height and his big ego.

If the writer does hint a resentment in his tone at times, that's unfortunate and petty.

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 Post subject: Re: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:38 am 
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Detective Thorn wrote:
Chrysagon wrote:
One strange thing about Rod Taylor in relation to his size (as you infer, Roddy McDowall was a very small guy) -- I always thought that Rod was a big guy in his movies, at least a six-footer; that's how he came across, very strong and manly. But, IMDb lists him as 5' 10" - about average. And, it gets stranger in that biography by Vagg, who keeps referring to Rod as this short guy and even mentions his specific height as 5' 7" at one point. Now, there's no way - to me - that Rod was that short, even with lifts in his shoes; I've seen him in many of his films and, again, he always looks 6 feet tall to me - but maybe that just goes to show how some stars can project a big image of themselves on the screen.

Thinking back on The Birds, I picture a pretty tall man, maybe Tippi Hedren was just a bit short?

I think she was average for a female; IMDb lists her height as 5' 5". I found some more information about Rod's height that doesn't jibe with biographer Vagg's assertions of how short he was: one of the roles he almost got was as the other male lead in Enter the Dragon (73), which would have had him starring with Bruce Lee. But, he didn't get the role because he was considered too tall! (Lee himself and/or others involved in the film thought Rod too tall) - he apparently would have looked too tall next to Lee, who was a rather small man, but - here's the kicker - Bruce Lee is listed as 5' 7" on IMDb! (the same height that Vagg claims was Rod's height). So, something doesn't add up here. On one hand, Vagg writes that Rod was a short 5' 7" -- on the other, it's written elsewhere that Rod was thought as too tall to star with Bruce Lee (the role ended up being played by John Saxon, who is listed as 5' 10" on IMDb). :-?

As with almost any star, there are numerous famous roles which Rod almost played but didn't - he turned down, for example, the James Bond role in the first Bond film, Dr. No (he stated later that he regretted this). The one that caught my attention most was the Taylor role in Planet of the Apes (68); yep, Rod was one of the stars considered for this one. But, even though he was at the top of his game at this point, Heston was considered a bigger star at that time.


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 Post subject: Re: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:56 am 
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Chrysagon wrote:
As with almost any star, there are numerous famous roles which Rod almost played but didn't - he turned down, for example, the James Bond role in the first Bond film, Dr. No (he stated later that he regretted this).

He should! :lol: :lol:

I had no idea he was considered for the part. That must have been one of the biggest mistakes any actor has done, unless he would have had a harder time than Sean Connery to break away from the character,

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 Post subject: Re: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 9:40 pm 
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Rod Taylor has just died of a heart attack, on Jan. 7, 2015; he was surrounded by his friends and family at the time of his death. He was my 2nd favorite male actor after Heston. http://variety.com/2015/film/news/rod-t ... 201396390/
He was about the same age as Heston when Heston passed away - a bit older since Rod would have turned 85 in a couple of days. I know that not many members here get the channel, but I just learned that TCM will have a special tribute day of his films on Jan. 29th.

By chance, I came across this cool R.I.P. by an IMDb member earlier today; it neatly summarizes his career and points out the best moments of his career:
[quote="ecarle"]Rod Taylor was a "second tier" movie star whose movie stardom seemed to last exactly one decade: the sixties. But he was important to that decade and remembered long after it.

Taylor's sixties career had "The Time Machine" in 1960 to launch it (though Taylor had a TV show on the air the same year called "Hong Kong") and "Darker in Amber" to pretty much finish it in 1970 (a Travis McGee detective story with a great final duke-out between Taylor and scary William Smith.) By 1971, Taylor had moved back to TV with the so-so Wild Wild West shadow, "Bearcats." A few more movie roles followed, but it was really the sixties that made Rod.

And the sixties RE-made Rod Taylor in the 90's, when Turner Classic movies came into being in the US and an older Rod Taylor found a younger generation turned on by his younger self from the sixties.

Even "second tier" stars seem to land their classics, and Rod Taylor always had the same two mentioned: The Time Machine and The Birds. Though the first one was "for kids" and the second "adult horror," they were really BOTH fantasy films that played across all age groups, which is one of the reasons I think they are classics -- and I say that knowing that, for me, "The Birds" will always be rather flawed in the script and acting department versus lesser known Hitchcock greats.

Taylor got a lucky break near the end of his career: his final film was for Quentin Tarantino. Inglorious Basterds. Taylor plays Winston Churchill , and he's in the back of the frame for the longest time (with Mike Myers and Michael Fassbender in the foreground action) before he talks briefly, and though he was old and wrinkled and "gnome-like"(said one critic), once he talked and made his classic facial expression you KNEW..."Hey, that IS Rod Taylor!"

But perhaps better to remember the young and brawny and handsome Rod Taylor of the sixties. I know he drove my mother's generation wild in those years(they were 30 to 40 somethings) and he was known even as he kept missing out on the "big roles": James Bond, Dr. Zhivago, Heston's part in Planet of the Apes. Second tier guys often lose the parts to first tier guys.

I've spoken before of my great love for "Hotel," 1967, in which Taylor has the "pivots around him" lead. I always figured that probably Paul Newman, Rock Hudson and Sean Connery turned the role down and Taylor ended up with it. He's a dashing hotel manager and I guess hotel manager isn't a great "action role." But its a smooth sophisticated film and Rod Taylor is almost Cary Grant in it.
(And he DOES get an action scene -- a cliffhanger involving an elevator dangling by a thread and killing somebody, with Rod barely surviving by a "Vertigo" hang.)

Rod did two movies with Doris Day and the second one is a 1966 time capsule - "The Glass Bottom Boat," a SoCal based spy spoof with Doris and Rod surrounded by such comic talent as Paul Lynde and Dom DeLuise and **** Martin(with no Rowan.) Hardly a great movie, but it was fun then.

QT loves "Dark of the Sun" the OTHER movie with a great Rod Taylor fight; this one to the death as Rod beats the living hell out of an evil modern day German mercenary. Very satisfying fight. (Rod also did a "start as haters, end as buddies" fight with Ernest Borgnine in the little-seen "Chuka," also of 1967. I guess you could say that Rod was Muy Mas Macho.)

Hitchcock considered Rod Taylor to play Sam Loomis in Psycho, but went with Stuart Whitman and then shifted to John Gavin. Hitch remembered Rod for "The Birds," and the rest is history. There are news clippings of Hitchcock signing Rod Taylor to a long-term contract in the sixties(after Sean Connery said "no") but nothing came of it. Rumored: Taylor would have been the male star of "Mary Rose" had Hitchcock made it.

As a "second tier" guy, perhaps Rod Taylor was very lucky to land The Birds. Hitch's budget attention was on the birds and his discovery, Tippi Hedren. Taylor was almost an afterthought but his "Mitch Brenner" really holds the production together, as the beleaguered male trapped in a house with females of all ages. (He had it coming, though; in the first half hour he's a real jerk smart ***.)

"The Time Machine" has always haunted me with its basic futuristic conceit: an "above ground" population of peaceful but wimpy and fey types who ignore one of their member drowning, don't read anymore(their books are crumbling into dust)...and are occasionally raided by monstrous " Morlocks" from the underground who eat some of them, again without the rest of them caring at all. They are like human cattle.

The movie had SOME anti-war themes(nuclear war devastates the world) but also said that a totally meek "turn the other cheek" comportment versus savagery can lead to a lot of death for the "nice innocents". Food for thought through the ages.

---

Anyway, Rod Taylor. I know a lot of older ladies who were big fans of him for THAT reason, but me, I like him because he had macho style and because he's in Hotel, The Time Machine, The Birds, Dark of the Sun and Darker Than Amber.

And Inglorious Basterds.

And he was one of the first Aussie stars in Hollywood. Someone called Rod Taylor in the 80's -- "The Mel Gibson of the 60's." But I think its the other way around.

RIP, macho man!

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 Post subject: Re: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:36 pm 
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Heard about this too and immediately thought of you, Chrysagon. He lived a long and rich life. May he rest in peace.

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 Post subject: Re: Rod Taylor
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 1:33 pm 
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Chrysagon, your biography of Rod Taylor is absolutely first class - a tremendous tribute. I salute your great talent.


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