Rod Taylor News and Site Updates
June 22, 2017
How about a little sunbathing to kick off the summer?
Many thanks to Howard Spellman for sending along this photo from 1957.
"My father remodeled Rod Taylor's beach house and brought me out there
to show me what he does for a job," Howard wrote in an email. "I'm the
little 5-year-old kid showing off my muscles, and this year I'm eligible
for Social Security!"
Also in the photo is actor Jeff Richards, who was separated from his
wife and stayed with Rod in the Malibu house for a while.
Coincidentally, Jeff's real name was Taylor -- Richard Taylor -- but it
was changed when he signed with MGM in the late 1940s.
Here are a couple of other photos of the "Two Taylors": Rod and Jeff
Richards in the MGM commissary and on a fishing pier.
June 2, 2017
Tennis anyone? Rod Taylor was a terrific tennis player and showed off
his talents in at least three productions that are among the missing.
Anyone have a recording of any of these shows stashed away?
Please let me know!
1. Bus Stop (1961)
The episodes in this star-studded one-season-wonder were acclaimed
either for quality, controversy, talent or sheer terror. Several
episodes have surfaced across the internet, but I've yet to find Rod's
episode, "Portrait of a Hero." My reasons are quite shallow, as the show
features Rod "stripped to the waist, in bed, wearing short shorts and
tight muscle-revealing shirts on the tennis courts, or having revealing
rub-downs in the massage rooms." Is that so wrong?
2. CBS Sports Spectacular
In a segment called "Professional Tennis at Dean Martin's," Rod teamed with
tennis champ Pancho Segura to play Dean Martin and pro Pancho Gonzalez.
There's a clip online of the actresses who played during the episode,
but I'm still on the hunt for the men's match.
3. John Newcombe's
Australian Stars in the States (1980)
This special features a bit of tennis,
billiards and beer-drinking while Aussie tennis pro John Newcombe
interviews Rod at his home.
4. US Against the
I don't know if it's tennis or another
sport, but Rod competed in this "Battle of the Network
Stars"-like show. There were three teams: one made up of stars
from the U.S., one for Britain, and one for "the rest of the world."
Aussie Rod was part of the latter group. Someone *must* have a dusty
tape of this in the back of their closet, right?
May 29, 2017
TCM has a lot of Rod Taylor on its schedule for the next couple of
months. But there's no bigger news than
Friday, Aug. 18 being Rod Taylor Day on TCM's annual Summer Under
the Stars lineup.
Here's the schedule (U.S. Eastern Time) for the big day:
6:00 a.m. - 36 Hours
8:00 a.m. - The Liquidator
10:00 a.m. - The Glass
12:00 p.m. - The Time
2:00 p.m. - Seven Seas
3:45 p.m. - Hotel
6:00 p.m. - Sunday in
8:00 p.m. - The Birds
10:15 p.m. - Dark of the
12:15 a.m. - The Man Who
Had Power Over Women
2:00 a.m. - Young Cassidy
4:00 a.m. - The Deadly
Other TCM Rod Taylor viewing opportunities:
June 1 - 12 a.m. -
June 7 - 10:15 p.m. - Giant
June 25 - 2 a.m. -
July 27 - 3 a.m. - The Birds
July 30 - 6 p.m. -
Sunday in New York
Aug. 12 - 4 p.m. - The
Aug. 31 - 6 p.m. - The VIPS
Sept. 1 - 12 a.m. -
May 27, 2017
As part of its Memorial Day weekend observation,
TCM will be airing "36 Hours" on Sunday morning. For the occasion, I
added a few items to the page for "36
Hours," a movie that deserves a wider viewing for its strong
performances and unusual premise.
Here's what's new:
(1) On Memorial Day weekend in 1964, Rod Taylor fan club president and
MGM staffer Liz Ploger visited the set of "36 Hours" on location at
Yosemite Park. Here's her report:
(2) Another report from the set, this time at MGM studios, from a fan
who reports on
A Dream Come True (PDF).
(3) A fun interview with Rod from June 1964:
Rod Taylor Plays a
Villain Now (PDF).
(4) New images in the gallery.
(5) A highly positive review about the Blu-ray release. So there's hope
of more people discovering this gem of a movie. View the link to this
review and more at the "36
May 24, 2017
Actress Dina Merrill shared the screen with Rod Taylor in sparkling
performances that spanned the decades. Merrill died May 22, 2017, at age
93. She was the daughter of Wall Street broker E. F. Hutton and cereal
heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Despite this great fortune, she was
very much a working actress, appearing in scores of movies and TV shows
over more than a half a century.
Here are her appearances with Rod Taylor:
(1) Hong Kong, 1961:
Dina plays Glenn Evans' love interest of the week in the "Lady Godiva"
episode, and their chemistry is just about the best of the entire
series. A long-ago romance tries to rekindle, but danger, intrigue and
lively banter come first. You can read more about the episode on the "Hong
Kong" page and
view it on
(2) Family Flight, 1972:
Rod and Dina have a rockier time of it in their next outing. In this TV
movie, Rod plays a self-reliant pilot and Dina plays his longsuffering
wife. When disaster strikes, Dina displays an emotional arc from
brittle, helpless alcoholic to a woman determined to help her family
survive. She and Rod don't share many scenes together, but they are a
convincing couple, struggling to find their way. Read more at the
"Family Flight" page.
(3) The Point of Betrayal, 1995:
This independent movie features Rod and Dina as newlywed 60-somethings,
very much in love and full of life. Rod is a delight -- playful, fierce
and loving. The two enjoyed working together again, and they liked
working in South Florida. Rod seemed ready to move, and Dina had spent
much of her childhood there. See more at the "The
Point of Betrayal" page, and be sure to read the
the Set article (PDF) for interviews and a behind-the-scenes feel
for the film.
(4) Open Season, 1996:
Rod and Dina don't share any scenes in this independent film, but the
movie is worth noting. Although Dina's appearance is brief, Rod's role
is full of bluster and great humor. More at the
"Open Season" page.
May 17, 2017
TCM is showing the swashbuckling "Seven
Seas to Calais" on Thursday afternoon, May 18 (check
listings). I used this as a good excuse to update the "Seven Seas"
movie page, with an emphasis on the epic off-screen romance that sparked
between Anita Ekberg and Rod Taylor.
Read on >>
May 14, 2017
In observation of Mother's Day, I scanned and assembled some treasures
from my archives that feature Rod's mother, Mona Taylor.
Born in 1902 in the region around Hull and Grimsby in Lincolnshire,
England, Mona was a proper English lady. She immigrated to Australia
and, in 1928, she married Bill Taylor, a knockabout Aussie bloke. Their
personalities clashed, but they were married for 55 years. Bill died in
1983, and then Mona moved to California to live near Rod. She died in
Mona Taylor (née Thompson and also known as Mona Stewart Taylor) was a
writer of short stories, novels and poems. Here's one special item that
she penned: "A
Letter from Australia" (PDF) in the Rod-Lore fan newsletter of April
For more photos and information about Rod's mother and father, visit the
This Is Your Life
And read The Book: Rod Taylor: An
Aussie in Hollywood!
May 10, 2017
The page for "Dateline: San Francisco"
has been updated, after I was able to view the show via the Film and
Television Archives at UCLA. It was a high-quality TV pilot and would
have been a strong successor to "Hong Kong." But the fact that it wasn't
picked up as a series meant that Rod had a much bigger Big Screen
May 5, 2017
I've added a new page to the website -- "The
Golden Age of Television" -- with material courtesy of Ken Lynch, a
fan in Australia who has an awesome collection of old TV recordings. Ken
sent along a clip of the nostalgia show that featured an episode of
"Hong Kong." The host, David Lyle, colors his commentary with both
fondness and irony.
For those who may have missed it, Ken previously shared an audio
recording of a "Willesee" TV show from
1975. Thanks for the great gems!
May 2, 2017
Walk the red carpet with the filmmakers and friends at the Beverly Hills
Film Festival! A photo album of activities surrounding the screening
"Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches" is available at my
Facebook page. Feel free to Friend me while you're there!
May 1, 2017
The Rod Taylor documentary "Pulling
No Punches" was a winner at the Beverly Hills Film Festival!
The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the festival, which
ran April 26-30, 2017.
The Rod documentary screened on Thursday evening, April 27 at the TCL
Chinese 6 Theaters on Hollywood Boulevard. Yes, that's the famous
Grauman's Chinese movie palace!
Among the luminaries in attendance for the screening were:
Stephan Wellink, producer, whose steadfast
appreciation for Rod Taylor had its roots in childhood and
culminated in this splendid film.
Robert de Young, producer/director. Robert had
previously done films on Australian actors Errol Flynn and Peter
Finch, making his partnership with Stephan Wellink a perfect fit.
Simon Wellink, camera operator, sound engineer and
son of Stephan Wellink.
Stephen Vagg, the author of "Rod
Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood." He was a consultant on the film
and appears on screen, bringing perspective to aspects of Rod's
Nicholas Eddy, Rod's friend and attorney in
Australia, who also appears in the documentary.
Liz Ploger, a former MGM worker who was Rod's
publicist and fan club president in the 1960s as well as a longtime
Taylor family friend.
Diane Tomasik, yours truly, the creator and
keeper of this website. I received a "special thanks" credit in the
film and was thrilled to have been included in the festivities
surrounding the screening.
March 28, 2017
news! The documentary about Rod Taylor -- "Pulling
No Punches" -- has been selected to screen at the Beverly Hills Film
The 80-minute film will be part of a block of two documentaries during a
session that runs from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. on April 27, 2017. It's
likely that "Pulling No Punches" will be the second film, starting at
approximately 6:15 p.m.
Ticket info can be
found at this link, for Block 2 at Theater 2 of the TCL Chinese 6
Theaters, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA.
The Australian-made documentary celebrates Rod's Hollywood stardom and
shows how his rugged on-screen and off-screen persona created a brand of
Australian masculinity. "Pulling No Punches" includes clips from Rod's
films and showcases his artwork. Rod is interviewed, as are co-stars,
producers and directors who reflect on his colorful life and career.
Many thanks to Stephan Wellink, co-producer of the documentary, for
bringing this passion project to life and for keeping this site
up-to-date about the film's progress!
March 27, 2017
The pilot episode of "Dateline: San
Francisco" aired on this date 55 years ago -- March 27, 1962. It was
to be a continuation of Rod's "Hong Kong"
series, transplanting newspaperman Glenn Evans from Hong Kong to San
The pilot was not picked up, and Rod took on big movie roles instead.
When asked about it in the Rod Lore fan magazine dated October 1963, Rod
said, "If 'Hong Kong' had gone on for five years, things like 'The
Birds,' 'A Gathering of Eagles,' 'The VIPs,' 'Sunday in New York,' etc.,
would never have been possible."
The page for "Dateline: San Francisco"
has been updated with a new picture and an article about the show and
Rod's adventures with Anita Ekberg.
I'm hoping to be able to provide more updates in about a month after an
opportunity to view the show thanks to the good folks at the UCLA Film
and Television Archive!
March 11, 2017
In honor of St. Patrick's Day on March 17, let's make it a week o' the
Irish for the Rod Taylor Site!
His role as Irish playwright Sean O'Casey in "Young
Cassidy" may be one of the highlights of Rod's career, but it isn't
his only Irish connection.
TCM is showing "Young Cassidy" on Friday (4:15 U.S. Eastern Time). In
the meantime, here are some other Irish highlights, all viewable online:
"Murder, She Wrote":
In 1995, Rod was cast in two stories set in Ireland. Angela Lansbury
recalled Rod's performance in "Young Cassidy," and reached out to
cast him in "Another Killing in Cork." On the strength of that
performance, Rod and his Irish brogue returned the following season
in "Nan's Ghost," a two-parter hailed by fans among the best
installments in the long-running series.
"Cry of the
Innocent": Rod plays an American in this 1980 movie that was
made in Ireland for Irish TV. One of his co-stars is Irish
actor Cyril Cusack, and their performance together led to Rod's next
"Tales of the
Unexpected:" Cyril Cusack and Rod reunited for "The
Hitch-Hiker," an installment in this anthology series based on the
stories of Roald Dahl. Cusack plays a "fingersmith" who hitches a
ride with Rod. His supernatural pick-pocketing skills bedevil Rod into one bit of trouble after another.
One last note: In a segment taped for "This
is Your Life" in 1975, Irish actor Richard Harris praised Rod's work
in "Young Cassidy," saying, "It probably was one of the best
performances he's ever given and a brilliant insight into the Irish
playwright. ... This Irishman is very appreciative."
March 10, 2017
I made some updates to the page for "Pulling
No Punches," the documentary about Rod Taylor that premiered a
little over a year ago on Australian TV.
I hope to be able to announce some big news soon. in the meantime. let
me just say that upon viewing the documentary, I was charmed, amused, energized and
mightily entertained. Throughout my research for this site, I've seen
and read a lot about Rod, but I'm impressed by all the fresh
information, photos and insights provided by the film.
I also want to thank producer Stephan Wellink for his thanks in the
March 4, 2017
Here's a roundup of recent updates to this website regarding Rod
Taylor's appearances on awards shows:
Oscars: In 1962, Rod was a presenter,
along with Angie Dickinson, handing out the Oscar for best film editing.
Check out the Academy Awards page,
with updated information, pictures and a link to Rod's segment.
Golden Globes: In 1961, Rod's TV show "Hong Kong"
scored a Golden Globe for Television Achievement "for outstanding merit
in the adventure field." And in 1963, he was a presenter. For more info,
see the Golden Globes page.
Logies: Rod was a special guest during the annual TV Week Logie
Awards in 1982. For more info about these Australian awards, see the
Logie Awards page.
March 1, 2017
Three of Rod's films recently were featured on the
website Trailers from Hell. Click the links below to view each
installment, during which film industry professionals offer commentary
as the movie trailers roll:
Dark of the Sun //
Time Machine //
June 24, 2016
Rod Taylor fans who love "Welcome to
Woop Woop" are in for a real treat.
Author Michael Winkler has brought us an essential guide to this
misunderstood movie in his recently published book, "Fahfangoolah!: The
Despised and Indispensable Welcome to Woop Woop."
Little-seen and widely criticized when it was released in 1998, "Welcome
To Woop Woop" has been gaining friends and a cult status. Indeed,
Winkler writes that Woop Woop has "everything a cult classic needs:
top-notch casting, quotable dialogue, memorable music, crazy costumes,
black humour and ... batshit crazy cameos."
Rod Taylor, of course, heads the "top-notch casting" part. The chapter
titled "Rod Taylor and Johnathon Schaech" opens with this statement:
"The great roaring engine that propels Welcome to Woop Woop is Daddy-O."
Rod also provides quotable dialogue: "As Daddy-O, [Taylor's] accent is
not just broad Australian but wonderfully, broad 1950s Australia. The
voice is right, the face is fantastic, and he even contributed his own
catchphrase -- 'Fahfangoolah!'"
Winkler does a great job of capturing why "Woop Woop" is so
misunderstood but yet so essential in depicting a disappearing slice of
Australian life. The book also maps out the triumphs and challenges of
the production, and the forces that shaped the final product.
In regard to Rod, the book contains praise for his performance and
offers details about key scenes -- especially his electrifying tap-dance
on the bar.
It also describes some scenes that didn't make the final cut, including:
A pivotal scene that would have explained why the
residents of Woop Woop wear such a weird assortment of clothing. It
was inspired by director Stephan Elliott's recollection of the all
the "inappropriate crap" that he saw piled up following a call to
aid the residents of a flooded town -- wedding dresses, designer
gowns, platform shoes, etc. The deleted scene has Daddy-O
driving up in a big truck and screaming, "The rain's come down in
Marble Bar," and then he empties a bunch of castoff clothing from
A sub-plot that gives Daddy-O further ammunition, so
to speak, for shooting Midget as he tries to escape Woop Woop.
The book offers a glimmer of hope that such scenes -- and Elliott's
original vision -- may surface one day. Elliott says he'd love to raise
the money and put all the footage back together. In the meantime, read
all about it!
Michael Winkler's website
Book review on Urban Cinefile
Jan. 26, 2016
Save the date! Exciting news! The world premiere of the Rod Taylor
No Punches," will be 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11, on Foxtel Arts in
Australia, according to
Read more about the documentary and see trailers at the "Pulling
No Punches" page.
Feb. 1, 2015
Want to hear an hour-long discussion about Rod Taylor's life and career
from experts on the topic? Then have a listen to the second half of a
recent broadcast of an Australian Radio show,
Film Buff's Forecast, from Jan. 31, 2015.
Start at the 56:00 mark for the segment, which features a conversation
with Steven Vagg, the author
of "Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood"
and Mark Hartley, an Australian filmmaker and director who interviewed
Rod for the "Pulling No Punches"
I want to thank Stephen for telling the listeners about the "awesome"
and "lovely" webmaster of this site at the end of the broadcast! I
appreciate the sentiments and the shout-out.
Jan. 13, 2015
Here's a little brightness amid the sad news: A documentary about Rod
that has been in development for a few years is getting closer to being
released. An article from the SBS in Australia states that the
documentary will be released this year! For more info, read the "Pulling
No Punches" page and the
article at SBS.
Jan. 11, 2015
Today would have been Rod's 85th birthday. The world has been
celebrating his life and career this week upon the news of his passing.
Rod died at home on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, surrounded by his family
I want to thank all the fans who have left such lovely messages in the
guestbook, and I encourage everyone to continue posting comments:
I also will be posting "highlights" of online
obits and tributes to Rod
from major media outlets. It is so heartening to see the outpouring of
love and appreciation for his talents, versatility and all-around
My favorite tribute so far is
Rod Taylor: An Appreciation of the Under-Appreciated by
Bartlett at the Hollywood Reporter site. Here are some excerpts,
with some good news:
Draw a circle around Taylor's career from 1955-65, and you
justifiably can rate that period with the heydays of any Australian
actor, before or since. His work during this time spanned almost every
genre: sci-fi ... horror ... animation ... drama ... breezy romantic
comedies ... and biopics.
Two months ago, I submitted his name to the Australian Academy of
Cinema and Television Arts — which celebrates our country's greatest
achievements in film and television — for its lifetime achievement
award. Because Rod Taylor was rarely mentioned in Australia when we
spoke of success stories. Because he was the son of a steelworker who
forged his way to Hollywood. Because he started his career near the
sprockets of a movie frame, then ended up front and center.
Click here for more obits
and tributes. I will continue to add images and links to this page.
Jan. 8, 2015
The saddest of
news to report: Rod Taylor has died.
Liz Ploger, an
assistant to Rod in the 1960s, wrote to me today that Rod fell down about two
weeks ago and was hospitalized. He was able to return home, and he
subsequently had a heart
attack and died in his own bed.
Rod died at home on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, surrounded by his family
His daughter, Felicia said in a statement: "My dad loved his work. Being
an actor was his passion – calling it an honorable art and something he
couldn’t live without."
Sunday, Jan. 11, would have been Rod's 85th birthday. This site
usually encourages birthday greetings in the guestbook. This year, I
encourage everyone to share special memories to celebrate the life of
this wonderful actor and lovely man.
Sign/read the guestbook
TCM has scheduled a five-film tribute to Rod Taylor on Jan. 29, starting
at 8 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time. The featured films will be
The Time Machine,
The Birds, Sunday in New York,
Young Cassidy and
The Glass Bottom Boat.
Nov. 23, 2014
I was lucky enough catch a night-long salute to Rod Taylor on TCM on
Friday, Nov. 20. It featured The Birds, The Time Machine, Dark of the
Sun, Sunday in New York and Hotel all in a row!
Also on the TCM site is a blog item titled
Things You Might Not Know about Rod Taylor, by Kimberly Lindbergs,
citing things she'd learned by reading Stephen
Vagg's biography of Rod. In his commentary between movies on Friday,
TCM host Ben Mankiewicz called Rod "rugged and underappreciated." So,
it's good to see some appreciation!
Feb. 3, 2014
Rod Taylor participated in a rare autograph signing session on Jan. 31,
The OC Dugout, also known as Orange County Sportscards, held a private
autograph signing session with Rod, and the results are
posted at the ocsportscard store on eBay. The items are pricey but
beautiful! Below is one of the photos they took of Rod during his
Nov. 6, 2013
A rare treasure has surfaced Down Under: A
13-minute interview with Rod Taylor from 1975, just after his appearance
on "This is Your Life."
Click here to read
about -- and more importantly -- listen to Rod's interview with Mike
This gem came to light recently when Australian fan
Ken Lynch found a box of reel-to-reel audio tapes of recordings he had
made off TV during the 1970s. He is converting the tapes to mp3 files,
and in the process, he discovered this Rod Taylor interview and sent it
along for sharing. Thank you, Ken!
Sept. 1, 2013
I was Googling for some news about the Rod Taylor
documentary in development, "Pulling No
Punches," and found a trailer for it! The video will have you
grinning from start to finish:
trailer at Vimeo video site
I happened to be over on
Veronica Cartwright's Web page,
checking links, and lo and behold -- on the front was a
photo of her, Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor taken this year at
The caption says "Tippi
Hedren, Veronica and Rod Tayler do an interview for a documentary on
Rod Taylor's life -- 'Pulling No Punches: Rod Taylor' -- scheduled for
release next year."
documentary is being made by Lowland Media Pty Ltd, with Robert De
Young, Stephan Wellink producers and Mark Hartley, director. A synopsis
says, "Pulling No Punches profiles the career and legacy of rugged
Australian actor Rod Taylor."
Is it next year yet?!?
Dec. 8, 2012
The Dec. 14 issue of Entertainment Weekly arrived yesterday, bearing a
surprise: A DVD "Cult Classic" review of
Dark of the Sun, giving it an
"A" and raving about the "rollicking red-meat adventure." The item
has special praise for "terrific Rod Taylor" who "oozes sweaty,
100-proof charisma." What a joy to see this praise in a major,
A scan of the review is below for your reading enjoyment:
Oct. 12, 2012
Mark Hartley, the Australian writer/director of "Not
Quite Hollywood," was in Los Angeles in September to start work on
new documentary. The topic this time... Rod Taylor!
Deadline Hollywood reports that the documentary is tentatively
titled "Pulling No Punches," and is being produced by Robert de Young,
who wrote and produced films about Peter Finch and Errol Flynn.
In further good news, a book on the making of "The
Birds" will be published in 2013 to celebrate the film's 50th
anniversary. The author is Tony Lee Moral, who also wrote a book about
the making of "Marnie."
More info >>
March 28, 2012
Here's a link to a blog post from an Australian radio station in which
the author, Jim Schembri, praises his
top six Rod Taylor flicks. I highly recommend this snappy,
deliciously descriptive commentary.