Friday, January 09, 2015
Tribute: Rod Taylor (1930 - 2015)
The press is now reporting the passing of actor Rod Taylor, a familiar (and beloved) presence in the world of genre film and television.
Mr. Taylor may be known best for two prominent movie roles. He starred in The Time Machine (1960), as H.G. Well's voyager through time, and as Mitch Brenner in Alfred Hitchcock's horror film, The Birds (1963). He recently had a supporting role in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds (2009).
Beyond those roles, Mr. Taylor was a fixture of genre television. He was a series in lead in both Masquerade (1983 - 1984), a short-lived espionage series about regular citizens recruited as spies in foreign lands, and Outlaws (1986 - 1987), a series about cowboys from the Old West transported to the present. In the latter program, Taylor was Sheriff Grail.
Outside the genre, Mr Taylor appeared in such films as Zabriskie Point (1970) and Jamaican Gold (1979), and contributed his voice to the popular Disney film 101 Dalmations (1961). On TV, he had recurring and regular roles in such prominent productions as Walker, Texas Ranger (1996 - 2000), Murder She Wrote (1984 - 1996), and Falcon Crest (1988 - 1990).
An actor of steely-glare and tough demeanor, Rod Taylor also starred in an episode of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone (1959- 1964), in the early installment "And the Sky Was Opened." The episode concerned astronauts who had returned from a doomed space expedition only to find that they were being wiped from existence, one individual at a time.
With Taylor's memorable performances across the years still available widely for review and enjoyment, that is a fate the actor himself will never face.
Today, I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends for the loss of this talent, yet offer the reminder that film (and TV) are "time machines" that allow us to experience, again and again, the gift of Rod Taylor's talent. He will be missed...and remembered.