Australian film and television actor Rodney Sturt “Rod” Taylor has passed away just four days shy of his 85th birthday.
Taylor suffered a heart attack and died on 7 January 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Taylor appeared in more than 50 films, building his career in the United States from a supporting cast member to leading roles in popular movies including The Time Machine, Seven Seas to Calais, Sunday in New York, Young Cassidy, The Train Robbers, The Catered Affair and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic thriller, The Birds.
He voiced Pongo in the much-loved Disney film 101 Dalmatians and more recently portrayed former British PM Winston Churchill in Quentin Tarantino’s blockbuster Inglourious Basterds.
Taylor was born on 11 January 1930 in the Sydney suburb of Lidcombe. He was an only child to William Taylor, a steel construction contractor and commercial artist, and Mona Thompson, a children’s books and short stories author.
Taylor went to Parramatta High School and later studied at the East Sydney Technical and Fine Arts College. He initially entered the workforce as a commercial artist, but decided to tackle acting after being enthralled by Laurence Olivier’s performance in an Old Vic touring production in Australia.
In a media statement, former The Birds co-star Tippi Hedren said Rod was a “great pal”.
“There are so many incredible feelings I have for him. Rod was a great pal to me and a real strength, we were very, very good friends,” Hedren said.
“He was one of the most fun people I have ever met, thoughtful and classy, there was everything good in that man.”
Taylor died at home, surrounded by family and friends. He is survived by his wife Carol and daughter Felicia.