×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rod Taylor, ‘The Birds’ and ‘The Time Machine’ Star, Dies at 84

Rod Taylor, the Australian-born actor who starred in George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” and in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” then decades later made a memorable swan-song appearance as Winston Churchill in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” died Wednesday of a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was 84.

His daughter Felicia, a former CNN correspondent, confirmed the news Thursday.

Taylor made his feature starring debut in 1960 sci-fier “The Time Machine,” portraying a fictionalized Wells, who invents a time machine in Victorian England and travels to the distant future. He also starred in a brief ABC adventure series, “Hong Kong.”

The next year he voiced the lead canine, Pongo, in Disney’s “101 Dalmatians.” Even after an impressive performance in Hitchcock’s well-received 1963 “The Birds” (in photo above), the actor never quite made it into the first rank of Hollywood actors.

He was part of the starry ensemble of Liz Taylor-Richard Burton starrer “The V.I.P.s” and was second lead in “A Gathering of Eagles,” “Fate Is the Hunter” and “36 Hours.”

In 1965 he starred in “Young Cassidy,” about the early life of the Irish playwright Sean O’Casey, leading a cast that included Julie Christie, Maggie Smith, Michael Redgrave and Edith Evans.

Taylor starred in a couple of late-career vehicles for Doris Day, “Do Not Disturb” and “The Glass Bottom Boat,” then led the ensemble in “Hotel.” The actor starred opposite his “Time Machine” co-star Yvette Mimieux in the well-regarded actioner “Dark of the Sun” and had a supporting role in Antonioni’s 1970 drama “Zabriskie Point.”

He had another go at TV with the short-lived CBS series “Bearcats” in 1971 and NBC Western “The Oregon Trail” in 1976. But Taylor’s film career sputtered by the 1970s. He was second lead to John Wayne in “The Train Robbers”; starred in 1977 Australian effort “The Picture Show Man,” about the early film business in the country; and starred alongside Rex Harrison in bland Mario Puzo adaptation “A Time to Die” in 1982.

By the 1980s he was primarily a TV actor. Taylor played star Jaclyn Smith’s father in ABC telepic “Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy” and appeared in “Charles and Diana: A Royal Love Story.” The actor starred in a pair of short-lived series, ABC’s “Masquerade” in 1983 and CBS’ “Outlaws” in 1986-87, and recurred on “Falcon Crest” as Frank Agretti.

Taylor was born in Sydney and went to art school, East Sydney Technical and Fine Arts College. He did commercial illustration for newspapers and a bit of boxing; he was interested in acting, but seeing Laurence Olivier in a touring production of “Richard III” sparked him to pursue a career in it.

During the 1950s he appeared in supporting roles in a number of prominent films, including George Stevens’ “Giant,” Civil War pic “Raintree County” and Delbert Mann’s “Separate Tables,” sometimes credited as Rodney Taylor.

Taylor worked only occasionally after the mid-1990s, appearing in a prominent role in Australian director Stephan Elliott’s “Welcome to Woop Woop” and recurring on TV series “Walker, Texas Ranger.” After an absence of seven years, he returned in 2007 for the Sci Fi Channel film “Kaw,” essentially an update of “The Birds,” but more prominently, he cameo’d as Winston Churchill in a key scene in Tarantino’s 2009 film “Inglourious Basterds.”

In 2010 the cast of “Inglourious Basterds,” including Taylor, won the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.

In addition to daughter Felicia Taylor, from his second marriage, the actor is survived by third wife Carol Kikumura, to whom he was married since 1980.

More TV

  • Kenan Thompson

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilots 'Saving Kenan' and 'Like Magic'

    NBC has ordered comedies “Saving Kenan” and “Like Magic” to pilot. “Saving Kenan” is a single-camera comedy starring “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kenan Thompson as a “newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives.” Jackie Clarke will serve as writer and [...]

  • The First -- "The Choice" -

    'The First' Canceled at Hulu After One Season

    Hulu has grounded the space exploration drama “The First” after one season, Variety has confirmed. The series hailed from Beau Willimon and starred Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone in Penn’s first regular television role. “The First” was set in the near future and followed the first human mission to Mars. Hulu gave the show a straight-to-series order in [...]

  • Nicole Maines Supergirl Trans Hollywood Portrait

    TV Roundup: 'Supergirl' Drops First Look at Nicole Maines as TV's First Trans Superhero

    In today’s TV News Roundup, The CW releases a first look at Nicole Maines on “Supergirl” and Variety unveils an exclusive look at Gabriel Iglesias’ new comedy special.  FIRST LOOKS truTV has released the first trailer for season 2 of Emmy-nominated series “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” The variety sketch comedy returns Tuesday, Feb. 19 at [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • annapurna logo

    Annapurna TV Taps Amazon's Patrick Chu as Senior VP, Promotes Ali Krug

    Annapurna TV has brought on Patrick Chu as the division’s new senior VP. Prior to that, he had served as an executive for Amazon in drama, production, and development, where he oversaw small-screen adaptations of “Hanna” and “The Hunt.” He will develop and produce new TV projects, focusing on drama, at his new role at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content