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Rod Taylor: The Artist

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

"Actors as Artists," by Jim McMullan and Dick Gautier, contains samples of Taylor's work, including the picture above and the abstract painting and still life art at right (second and third from top). Taylor also describes 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

Taylor also dabbles 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.