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Rod Taylor, "Body Beautiful"

An undeniable aspect of Rod Taylor's popularity rides on his broad shoulders. Square-jawed, muscle-bound and hairy-chested, Rod certainly has had his share of pinup-worthy scenes.

This appeal was noticed early. A reviewer of the 1956 time-travel flick, "World Without End," noted that it contains the "best bit of beefcake in the entire genre." The images below come from a scene, during which a co-star remarks: "Body Beautiful here could run for president without his shirt and get elected."

So where did all those muscles come from? A variety of physical rigors, it seems, including lifeguarding, push-ups, weights and hard labor. Not to mention tennis, fishing and archery (click on images below for larger view):

Click below for two pages from
"The Sporting Life," a pictorial in Teen Circle magazine, June 1966:
Rod plays tennis, boxes, fences, etc.
Rod wrapped in a towel

As a teenager, Taylor was an amateur middleweight boxer and captain of a surf club. He once described himself as a withdrawn, spindly child who was picked on by other kids. "I got into amateur boxing in high school and it was strictly a defensive measure," Taylor said. "I used to get beat up pretty good."

By the time he was 16, in the photo at right, it seems he had outgrown the spindly stage. Click for full view of the Lidcombe Congregational Gymnasium Club in 1946, with Rod in the back row.

In 1960, the pressbook for "The Time Machine" described Rod as a 5-foot-11, 175-pounder who had spent three years as a lifeguard on Australian beaches. Indeed, in a 1967 interview, Taylor said he had joined the Mona Vale Surf Lifesaving Club when he was 16 and was made captain of a surfboat crew at 17.

In 1968, the pressbook for "The Hell With Heroes" noted that Rod did 500 push-ups a day, in bursts of 100 at a time. The results? Click the images below to see for yourself:

Marco Lopez, Rod's personal assistant, stand-in and friend during the 1960s described further physical fitness activities while they were in France for the making of "The Liquidator":

To keep ourselves trim, we would without fail, each evening after work, go to the hotel and jump into our tracksuits and have a workout with a pair of dumbbells and a barbell and then a medicine ball. Every now and then we'd take a five-mile run.

-- Rod-Lore fan club newsletter, October 1965


Rod had hip-replacement surgery in 1997. An article in the Globe tabloid said Rod's hip had been bothering him for some time, but the pain became unbearable after he was in Australia working on "Welcome to Woop Woop."

"I finally busted out my hip after years of stupidity and punishment, but now I've got a new one," Rod was quoted as saying. After he got back on his feet, Rod went to work on an episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger." 




Malibu photo shoot, 1957

Photoplay magazine, March 1957:
Read article (PDF)
View gallery from beach photo shoot


Click photo to see larger image