Rod Taylor, an Australian actor who made it big in Hollywood in the early ’60s, has died two days before his 85th birthday. Taylor’s daughter has confirmed that he died at home in Los Angeles Thursday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Taylor’s first big starring role was in 1960’s The Time Machine, where he played inventor H. George Wells. This led to a series of high-profile roles, like Mitch Brenner in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) and the voice of canine patriarch Pongo in Disney’s 101 Dalmations (1961). Taylor spent much of the remaining decade in co-starring roles, playing opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in The V.I.P.s (1963); Jane Fonda in Sunday In New York (1963); his The Time Machine co-star Yvette Mimieux in Dark Of The Sun (1968); and Doris Day in Do Not Disturb (1965) and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). He also starred as Irish playwright Sean O’Casey in Young Cassidy (1965), and led the ensemble cast of Warner Bros.’ Hotel (1967).
Following a supporting role in Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (1970), Taylor returned to TV, starring in the adventure series Bearcats! (1971). He continued to appear in Hollywood films throughout the ’70s, but by the ’80s was working primarily in television. He also returned to his native Australia to star in a handful of films, including a well-regarded role in The Picture Show Man (1977). Taylor worked only sporadically after the mid-’90s; his last film role was as Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009).