Family & Companions
With a career spanning six decades, Australian actor Rod Taylor had many opportunities to prove his abilities as a performer in film, TV, theater and radio. Born in the suburban town of Lidcombe in New South Wales, Australia, Taylor had early exposure to the creative arts from his mother, a writer of more than a hundred children's stories, and his father, a construction contractor who also worked as a commercial artist. Taylor picked up his father's knack for visual design, working at Mark Foy's department store painting window displays as he studied graphic arts at East Sydney Technical and Fine Arts College. Undeniably, however, Taylor also loved acting. In his spare time he would take drama classes and participate in small-scale theatrical productions like "Julius Caesar" at the Independent Theatre in 1950 and "The Vigil" at John Alden Co. in 1951. Taylor got married around this time to a woman named Peggy Williams, though he would later remark that they were far too young at the time to create a healthy marriage. He wavered between his two crafts until he had a formative experience watching a performance of "Richard III" by none other than Sir Laurence Olivier and his touring Old Vic theatre troupe. Taylor was so inspired by the production that he made up his mind to pursue acting full time. He would continue to act on stage, but Taylor found still more success acting in radio dramas, which soon became his full time occupation. He starred in such popular radio shows as "The Dambusters," "Tarzan," "Blue Hills," Such Men are Dangerous," "No Lullaby for Lise," and many more, before he won the Rola award for his performance on "O'Sullivan's Bay" in 1954. Recently divorced from Williams, Taylor parlayed his win into a trip to Hollywood, where he set to work breaking into the mainstream film industry. He found many outlets early on, appearing on shows like "Studio 57" (DuMont, 1954-58) and in films like "World Without End" (1956) and "The Catered Affair" (1956) before his big break came in 1960, with a starring role in George Pal's adaptation of "The Time Machine" (1960). The film's success skyrocketed Taylor's fame to a new level, and he would appear in several more prominent movies from that period, including "The Birds" (1963). The iconic Hitchcock thriller would come on the heels of Taylor's second marriage to Mary Hilem, with whom he would give birth to a daughter, Felicia, in 1964. While this marriage would also end in divorce, in 1969, Taylor's career remained successful, with roles in landmark films and TV shows like "Zabriskie Point" (1970), and the series "Bearcats!" (CBS, 1971). He would be married again in 1980 to Carol Kikumura, a woman Taylor had dated back in the early '60s before she relocated to Las Vegas. After rekindling their relationship, he and Kikumura's union would last for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, Taylor found ongoing success throughout the '80s on the shows "Masquerade" (ABC, 1983-84) and "Falcon Crest" (CBS, 1981-89). The '90s found Taylor acting in movies like "Open Season" (1995) and on shows like "Walker, Texas Ranger" (CBS, 1993-2001) and "Murder, She Wrote" (CBS, 1984-1995). His last appearance on screen was as the great Winston Churchill in the explosively popular Quentin Tarantino film "Inglorious Basterds" (2009). Taylor died in Los Angeles on January 7, 2015. He was 84 years old.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made his feature film debut in "King of the Coral Sea."
US film debut, "Top Gun"
Earned his big break with a leading role in "The Time Machine."
Debut as film producer, "Chuka" (also actor)
Joined the cast of the massively popular night time soap "Falcon Crest."
Acted on TV show "Walker, Texas Ranger"
Made final screen appearance as Winston Churchill in "Inglorious Bastards"