Rod Taylor Site banner


John Newcombe's
Australian Stars in the States

November 1980

Rod Taylor was one of the stars featured on this TV special hosted by Australian tennis champion John Newcombe.

Newcombe was winding down his stellar playing career and was freshly under contract to Sydney's Channel 10, which produced and broadcast this program.

A reviewer in the Melbourne newspaper The Age called it an "undemanding hour-long programme" that looks at famous expatriate Australians living in Hollywood.

The show led off with a segment on Rod Taylor. Other stars featured on the show were singers Andy Gibb, Helen Reddy and Lana Cantrell; actress Trisha Noble; screenwriter Colin Higgins; songwriter/entertainer Peter Allen; and songwriter John Farrer and his wife, singer Pat Carroll.

The segment leads off at the estate once owned by Ginger Rogers. At the time of the show, it was owned by the son of tennis champion Fred Perry.

One of the frequent tennis guests at the home is Rod Taylor.

Newcombe and Rod volley and joke for a while on the tennis court, with Rod looking nimble and hitting some impressive shots. Then the interview starts, poolside at Ginger's, overlooking Hollywood.

They talk about how Rod had played on the court in years past, when it was a clay court. "This was THE old Hollywood," Rod said, further explaining that "the technicians at the studio build the court, and built the pool..."

Newcombe prompts Rod about the various celebrity homes they can see from their perch. He points out the homes of Bette Midler and Tina Sinatra, then Rod takes over with Rock Hudson, "the girls from Charlie's Angels" Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, and Charlton Heston.

Then the Aussie blokes head over to Rod's house for brews and billiards.

Rod wins their friendly wager at the pool table, then the two sit at Rod's bar to continue the interview.

Newcombe observes the many photos adorning the walls that show Rod with various castmates. He focuses on one from "The Train Robbers" and asks Rod about his friendship with John Wayne.

"He was a rampaging Nazi to some people, but he was the gentlest most all-American daddy you could possibly meet," Rod said. "He adopted me and then hated the fact that he adopted me. He really liked me but didn't want to tell me."

Newcombe gives an irreverent account of his encounter with Rod in his book, "Newk: Life on and off the Court."

One of my most memorable guests was the Australian actor, Rod Taylor... [who was] quite a character.

We started the day's filming at 10 a.m. on the tennis court of some actor buddy of Rod. I'd been there five minutes when Rod asked, "Hey, Newk, want a beer?"

"Well, Rod," I replied, a bit taken aback, "I don't need a beer at 10 in the morning... but okay."

We hit some tennis balls and chatted while the cameras rolled and Rod sunk beers. About midday he suggested we break for lunch. At the restaurant we drank more beer and then we went back to his place to play billiards ... and drink beer.

Somehow, the filming continued into the evening. Then at 6 p.m. or so, the crew left and Rod asked me to hang around to have, you guessed it, a few more beers. We were still drinking at 10 p.m., 12 hours after we'd started.




Review from Nov. 6, 1980

Review from Nov. 7, 1980

John Newcombe on Wikipedia



Preview clip on YouTube

Australian Television Archive