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Rod Taylor: The Artist

Self-portrait, from "Pulling No Punches"

Rod Taylor's roots are in the fine arts, and even as he found stardom in Hollywood, he maintained an artistic outlet in painting and furniture-making.

I was ... not a hippie, not a beatnik -- what are they called -- a bohemian. I went to East Sydney Tech [home of Australia's National Art School] and that's how I got into the business, doing illustrative stuff and ceramic pottery.

I'd listen to these soap operas on the radio, and I said, "I can do that." So I went and did an audition and became the biggest radio actor in Sydney, and that's how it all started.

There's a book ... called "Actors as Artists." You may see some of my work in that.

-- Urban Cinefile, 1997

The photo of Rod amid his artwork, above, is included in the book he mentioned, "Actors as Artists," by Jim McMullan and Dick Gautier. The book also contains two samples of Rod's work, including the still life below and "Girl with Jar" in the right-hand column.

Taylor also described his feelings about his artwork:

To put what you see on paper is the same as funneling what you feel through yourself as a performer. When I am working like hell as an actor, I paint. Acting doesn't suffice. Art doesn't feed me or fill the void when I am not working. If I haven't worked for six months, I can't paint.

Light intrigues me. I experiment all the time. You can't look at one of my paintings and say, "That's a Rod Taylor."

I wouldn't dream of selling my work. I give them to friends, to charities.

-- Actors as Artists, 1992

The charity angle came out after his "Outlaws" TV series ended, when Taylor noted:

I still paint and draw, which was for therapy until recently. I didn't know there was any money in it until Barbara [Mrs. Frank] Sinatra sold one of my pen-and-wash sketches of a tennis player for $2,500 at a charity auction. I thought, "Forget that silly CBS gig. Tennis, anyone?"

-- Toronto Star, April 4, 1987

Rod also dabbled in pottery and furniture-making. "I've got a workshop with a lot of dangerous toys, and I like to make tables and chairs," he said in an 1997 interview.

Rod made a lot of the furniture in his home, including this kitchen table above (Hello! magazine, 1998). Around the edge on top of the table, he engraved: "Chicken, mash, tatties and pease and goode wines our tummies to please!"

See more in the gallery >>





Gallery of Rod's artwork

When Rod posted nude (PDF)

Ceramics business, 1949 (PDF)

Many of Rod's paintings and pottery items can be seen in the documentary "Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches."

Rod Taylor was so intrigued by the stained glass crests in the House of Lords that he painted his own versions on the window of his billiard room.

"Girl with Jar"

Antiquing furniture

Tennis, anyone?

Pottery and painting