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Rod Taylor (1930-2015)


  1. Paul Newman, Somebody Up There Likes Me,  1956.    First serious test for Australia's top radio actor and quite a master of accents. He was teddibly English in his Raintree County debut. "But me as  Rocky  Graziano! Well,  I sure looked the part: a fire plug with funny hands and a broken nose!" Instead, his “impressive” n\test won him  The Catered Affair- opposite Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine. Helluva way to start!
  2. Jack Kelly, Maverick, TV, 1957-1962.     Taylor and Stuart Whitman were seen for  Bart Maverick. Kelly was the only one of the four Maverick boys to star in all five seasons - 83 episodes.  (James Garner was Bret in 60 shows,  Roger  Moore became Beau(regard) for 16, and Robert Colbert was Brent for the  final three). Kelly  ran for mayor of California’s Huntington Beach, California, with the campaign promise: "Let Maverick Solve Your Problems."  And he won. 
  3. Ricky Nelson, Rio Bravo, 1958.
  4. John Gavin, Psycho, 1959.    Alfred Hitchcock took his time finding Sam Loomis, lover of the shock shower-murder victim, Janet Leigh the low budget, “TV-style” Paramount movie #9401.   He saw Taylor, Brian Keith, Robert Loggia, Leslie Nielsen, Cliff Robertson, Tom Tryon. Hitch’s favourite was Stuart Whitman but loaning Universal contract actor John Gavin suited the cheaper budget - but not the role. Hitch called him… The Stiff. Hardly news as Gavin had made two Alfred Hitchcock Hourepisodes: Run For Doom, 1963, and Off Season, 1965.Oh and he kept Rod Taylor for his next one: The Birds. "As always," laughed Rod, "I thought: What the fuck am I doing here?”                                                                                                                       
  5. Tony Randall, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, 1963.      Anyone but Peter Sellers, came the MGMissive. Producer-director George Pal surprisingly thought of Taylor, his 1959 Time Machine star, or Laurence Harvey (Wilhem in Pal’s Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, 1961). For reasons unknown to this day, he decided upon Randall, a lightweight comic actor. It was as if Pal was teaching Hollywood a lesson: yes, anyone can be made-up to look like seven different people but) it takes genius to inhabit them. Minus the unique Sellers magic, Pal’s final film sank. Without a trace. Well, Michael Jackson planned a re-hash in 1993.
  6. Rod Steiger, Dr. Zhivago, 1965.     MGM trying to keep costs down by using pactees, however inappropriate they might be.
  7. Sean Connery, Dr No, 1962.
  8. John Smith, Circus World, 1963 . Soon after arriving on the Spanish locations, Taylor left - peaceably - on finding his Steve McCabe rôle had become more of a supporting sidekick than he had ever imagined possible.
  9. Kirk Douglas, The War Wagon, 1966.   Rod was in the running until Douglas liked the script… And he owed Universal a movie. Taylor finally joined John Wayne in The Train Robbers, 1972. Or he did when Duke told Burt Kennedy to write him in and make them drinking buddies. Taylor had been agreeably surprised in Spain (when quitting Dukde’s Circus World) “at how he liked me and showed it. We immediately liked each other.”
  10. Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes, 1967.

  11. George Hamilton,  The Power, 1968.     He passed on the telekinectic hero. "I've been in America since 1954 pretending to be an American movie star and half making it.  I don't know what the fuck I am now."
  12. Gene Hackman, Marooned, 1969.     Another day, another NASAstronaut. Trapped in space this time - in a prophetic forerunner of Apollo 13. 
  13. Mick Jagger,  Ned Kelly, 1970.     All set for the $7m project of Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis when UK director Tony Richardson beat them to  the off. "Mick as Ned?  That's like getting him to play Jesse James," Rod complained to me in London. "I'm not saying an Australian should play it. Let's face it, there were no Australians back  then - I wasn't going to use my Australian accent,  more like  something  from Cornwall.  I just cringed a little because Ned Kelly was a tough sonuvabitch  and I don't know if Mick is."  He wasn't.
  14. Gene Hackman, The French Connection, 1971.     He thought it perfect for him. "Rough, tough, the usual Rod Taylor bullshit." The budget was as low as the expectations. Suggestions for the NYPD cop ‘Popeye’ Doyle (from director William Friedkin and Fox chief Richard Zanuck) also included writer Jimmy Breslin, Charles Bronson, Jackie Geason, Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, Paul Newman… and, cheapest of all, the Fox Batman, Adam West. Holy moley!!!!













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