Australian Stars in the States
Rod Taylor was one of the stars featured on this TV special
hosted by Australian tennis champion John Newcombe.
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
One of the frequent tennis guests at the home is Rod
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
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
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
"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
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.