Rod Taylor, the Australian-born film and television actor who appeared in Inglourious Basterds and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds, died of natural causes Wednesday, several sources confirmed. He was 84.
Taylor appeared in more than 50 films and dozens of TV shows over the course a decades-long career. In the ’50s, he appeared in such television shows as Studio 57 and western Cheyenne, and guest-starred in an episode of The Twilight Zone (“And When The Sky Was Opened”) in 1959.
His first leading role in a feature film was in 1960’s Time Machine, George Pal’s adaptation of the science-fiction classic by H. G. Wells. Taylor played a time traveller who, thousands of years in the future, falls for a woman played by Yvette Mimieux. In an unsung 1965 gem, he played the title role in Young Cassidy, based on the Irish playwright Sean O’Casey’s memoir. The cast included Julie Christie, Maggie Smith, Michael Redgrave, Edith Evans, Jack MacGowran and Sian Phillips.
Taylor segued back and forth between film and television roles in the 1960s, landing a starring role in Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds as Mitch Brenner, whose home and town came under a menacing attack by birds.
He took on more tough-guy roles toward of the end of ’60s in films such as Chuka, Dark Of The Sun, Nobody Runs Forever and Darker Than Amber.
Taylor turned again to television in the ’70s, appearing in Bearcats! (1971) on CBS and in The Oregon Trail (1976) on NBC. He also had a regular role in the short-lived spy drama series Masquerade. His later TV credits included Falcon Crest, Murder She Wrote and Walker, Texas Ranger. His most recent film appearance was in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds in 2009, playing Winston Churchill in a cameo.
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