Rod Taylor leaves amazing life History of Film and Loved all his leading actress it was said by him! Born in Sydney January 11th 1930 in New South Wales and he was one of the first to go to Hollywood.
Taken from some of the records that he kept on his website and quotes HHB think in sharing this is a great insight for all actors to read.
Rod Taylor was the only child of William Sturt Taylor, a steel construction contractor, and Mona Stewart Taylor, a writer of plays and children’s books. (The Sturt name comes from Capt. Charles Sturt, a renowned explorer of the Australian continent and Rod’s great-great-grand uncle.)
Rod seemed destined for a career as an artist. During the 1930s, Rod’s father picked up extra work as a draftsman, and Rod would sketch alongside him for hours.
The family settled in the Sydney suburb of Lidcombe, and Rod attended Parramatta High School. Upon graduation in 1944, he went to East Sydney Technical and Fine Arts College. “I’ve been pretty much on my own since was 14, staying with different friends while going to art school,” he told Motion Picture magazine (November 1963). “At 15, I had my own place.”
“He once said: ‘I am a poor student sitting at the feet of giants, yearning for their wisdom and begging for lessons that might one day make me a complete artist,'” she added, cited by People.
Rod has had this to say about his parents and his start as an actor:
My first big fight was with my mother when I was a kid back in Sydney. She was a writer and wanted me to be an artist. My father began as a rigger on a crane and finally ran his own construction crew. … Anyway, when I was a kid, I dutifully went to the Sydney Technical and Fine Arts College. Then I worked at commercial illustration for newspapers, and my mother was happy. But I did a lot of boxing and I was captain of an Australian surf club. I met a lot of actors there, and I got the bug. I gave up art and became an actor myself, in Australian radio. Mom put up quite a struggle over that — but lost.
— TV Guide, Oct. 23, 1971
Having been bitten by the acting bug, he took a chance in amateur theatricals, supporting himself with a variety of menial jobs:
When I said I no longer wanted to be a painter, that I wanted to be an actor, the first thing I did was get a stinking job in an insurance building. There were two floors of a workers’ compensation hospital. I used to go from 9:30 at night until 3:30 in the morning, swabbing up the blood swabs and cleaning up this blanket-blank hospital just so I could walk around during the day and be a legitimate actor ready for work. … I chopped wood. I did all sorts of things. And I could always fall back on my art. I even made my art pottery for a while. I had decorated and baked the clay and molded the shapes and painted it and glazed it and sold it. There was an artsy-craftsy market for this.
— Screenland magazine, March 1961
Rod was wavering between art and acting, and it was seeing Sir Laurence Olivier in a performance of “Richard III” that made the wavering stop.
I suppose I owe everything to Sir Laurence Olivier, because without having seen him in an Old Vic touring production in Australia, I might have gone on to qualify in engineering, in which I already had some technical awards as a student. But Sir Larry’s performance that night clinched the deal. After seeing him, I knew I would never be anything but an actor.
— Film Review magazine, April 1971
But … I didn’t know anything about acting. I had to earn some money to pay for tuition at the Independent Theatre, where I planned to study. So I faked my age [he was 17] and got a job with Mark Foy’s department store, designing and painting backdrops for window displays and fashion shows. … I worked at Mark Foy’s during the day and studied drama at night.
— People magazine (Australia), Jan. 25, 1967
Taylor studied for a year at Sydney’s Independent Theatre School, where he was discovered by the producers of the Mercury Theatre and cast in his first professional performance, George Bernard Shaw’s “Misalliance.” His interest in acting also led him to a radio audition. When he read with the grand Australian actress Queenie Ashton, she said later, “I new immediately that we had found magic.”
First filmed role, 1951
“The Sturt Expedition”
By 1953, Taylor was on dozens of radio programs and won the Rola Award for radio acting as well as an award for his work in the theater. The Rola Award carried some prize money, and Rod was planning to use it to go to England to expand his career. But he delayed his departure after landing a part in an American movie filming in Australia — “Long John Silver.” Many involved in the film pushed him to give Hollywood a try, so when Rod finally set off for England, he stopped in Los Angeles, where he was met by representatives of a powerful Hollywood agency, MCA.
Here’s a couple of tales from Rod on his arrival on the scene:
I guess they were expecting a cross between Marlon Brando and Rock Hudson. Then I stepped off the plane in my tight Australian suit and their faces fell, visibly. I thought, “OK, you don’t like me. I’ll stay!”
— TV Radio Mirror magazine, January 1961
I did well as an actor in Australia, and then Paramount invited me over … to have a look at me. [Producer] Hal Wallis took that look, and maybe he was expecting Gregory Peck or something, because he said, “Who is this bum with the broken nose?” … So I told him to stuff it and lived on the beach for a while, catching fish for my food.
— TV Guide magazine, Oct. 23, 1971
Rod big break in Hollywood came with his starring role in director George Pal’s The Time Machine in 1960.
He went on to make dozens of films including lending his voice to Disney’s animated 101 Dalmatians.
He appeared with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in The V.I.P.s, which was released the same year as The Birds, in which he portrayed Hedren’s love interest Mitch Brenner.
Taylor also played opposite Jane Fonda in Sunday in New York and John Wayne in The Train Robbers.
Taylor had retired from acting when Tarantino offered him the Inglourious Basterds role, which he initially declined, suggesting Tarantino should cast Albert Finney instead. Check video for classic interview on this.
The actor is survived by his third wife Carol Kikumura, whom he married in 1980, and his daughter He died Jan. 7, 2015, in Beverly Hills, California, USA