February 1958: American actor Montgomery Clift (1920 - 1966) is startled by a make up experts' method of keeping Australian actor Rod Taylor's hair in place on location in Indiana for the filming of the American drama Raintree County. (Photo by BIPS/Getty Images)

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Rod Taylor, got his start in Hollywood around the mid 50’s, acting in some in some of the biggest films of the mid 50’s giving him incredible exposure, and a spot light on the Australian actor. He was in Giant 1956; co starring with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean. He was also in another very big movie, that also starred Liz Taylor called Raintree County 1957, with Montgomery Clift, and Eva Marie Saint. These were big old Hollywood technicolor blockbusters, that did very well at the theaters of the day.Raintree grossing almost $6 million dollars alone. Rod Taylor was young suave, with an Australian accent. He should have shot to super stardom in the late 50’s, The next year 1958, he had a good role in the film Separate Tables 1958 again starring some very heavy weight big of the day. Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, and David Niven, also with Rita Hayworth, great company small black, and white film not the big blockbuster, but a good film lots of press.

 

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Rod Taylor was offered the Role of James Bond in 1961

Rod Taylor’s career after Separate Tables from 1958 till 1963; He bounced around from medicare live TV. The Dupont Show of The Week, Goodyear Theater,GE Theater, and episode of The Twilight Zone, and things like the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. In between all that he did get The Time Machine 1960, which was a big hit, and a starring role for Taylor, and should have catapulted his career to major heights. As did The Great Escape 1963, and The Magnificent Seven 1960 did for Steve McQueen. The year 1963 proved to be the busiest year of Rod Taylor’s his career.

The biggest mistake I would say that contributed to Taylor’s down fall. Was is rejecting the role of James Bond. He was offered the Role to play 007 by the Bond Producer Cubby Broccoli, with Taylor famously saying it was beneath him. The James Bond franchise went to a relatively unknown actor with the only well know role he had to his credit at this time, was in the big war movie the Longest Day 1962; was the Scottish actor Sean Connery. This  made Connery a mega international super star, and the rest is history. Rod Taylor in 1960; was only 30 years old. He was the same age as Sean Connery, Steve McQueen, 5 yrs, younger than Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Paul Newman, and Rod Taylor had been in some of the biggest movies of his young career, and came to a complete stand still by the early 60’s; Taylor works one finial time with Elizabeth Taylor in the film The V.I.P’s from 1963

rod taylor the v.i.p's

 

Rod Taylor was considered for the role of Taylor in Planet Of The Apes 1968

The year 1963 should have been Taylor’s, all out break out mega year. Rod Taylor either starred, or c0 starred in The V.I.P’S, The Birds, A Gathering Of Eagles, and Sunday In New York. A combo of action adventure, horror,romantic comedy films. The most memorable role of that year was Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. I can never get tired of watching that movie, all the others were largely forgettable. We can go all day with the bad movies he did in the swinging 60’s; Just to name a few duds from that decade, don’t get me wrong he tried hard to be this big action star. We had Fate Is The Hunter 1964;Chuka 1967;The Dark Sun 1968;The Hell Is For Hero 1968; now do you remember any of these films.

He did get a big Hollywood shot at Authur Hailey’s Hotel 1967; with Karl Malden, great book crappy film. Taylor should have been patient, and got in another Hailey book the movie Airport 1970;  I think his last gasp of a major serious dramatic actor, was in a big John Ford movie called Young Cassidy 1965; frankly he was miscast wrong actor good movie. A better film for Albert Finney, or an unknown newcomer in my opinion.

 

Rod Taylor played Tarzan on Children’s radio in Australia

Some actors have it, like Steve McQueen in the 60’s, or Paul Newman, but  Taylor, and other actors who got a real good head start just bottomed out fast. Like I mentioned in the Tony Curtis article. The 1960’s was hard on every actor, or actress. The times were changing very rapidly. The old Hollywood studio system was dead, and it took a lot of actors, and actresses down with it, and by surprise. The real great ones with real deep talent made it, and managed to flourish.

 

 

I’m a big fan of Rod Taylor still to this day. He had some very good memorable roles. I remember his daughter the news anchor with WNBC channel 4 in New York for years. Taylor is one of those actors I would have like to have met personally. He I’m sure had lots of great old Hollywood stories to tell. He worked with the greatest male, and female leads, and directors of his day. He worked with John Wayne,Montgomery Clift,Elizabeth Taylor,Eva Marie Saint,Rock Hudson,James Dean,Deborah Kerr, Richard Burton, Richard Harris,Doris Day, Burt Lancaster,David Niven, and Some of the best directors such as, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford,Edward Dmytryk, and George Stevens.

Rod Taylor co starred with Montgomery Clift, James Dean and John Wayne

Rod Taylor his career fizzled for no real reason, that I can really put a finger on, which is odd. I don’t think he had a drug, or alcohol issue. Which is a certain career derailer. Maybe as I can see his mid 60’s string of just really bad movies, and just was not offered anymore meaty roles, and the studio’s had enough. It’s amazing by the mid 70’s Rod Taylor was the same age as Clint Eastwood, and Clint was as big a star as they get, and Rod Taylor got a mega jump start. A lot of actors, and actresses make very bad film choices that almost kill, or totally kill there acting careers. Kirk Douglas a Russian Jew playing an Italian in The Brotherhood 1968; or John Wayne playing an Asian in The Conqueror 1956; One of the worst films ever made by the way. How can we for get the major debacle of Heaven’s Gate 1980 the completely destroyed the career of it’s director Michael Cimino.  Then we have Marlon Brando’s entire decade of the 60’s; acting is tough no doubt even when your at the top of your game.

time machine

 

Rod Taylor died January 7, 2014 four days before his 85th birthday

Lucky for us we got to see Rod Taylor one last time thanks to Quentin Tarantino pulling him out of retirement, because of his uncanny resemblance to Sir Winston Churchill in the film Inglorious Bastard 2009; I’m a big movie fan, not so much the big blockbuster movies, but all movies. Rod Taylor was one of those all movie guys, and you would say oh yes. I liked him in this, he was great in that.

 

will smith oscar bound

 

Will Smith will not win an Oscar, probably never. He fits into the category of Tom Cruise. He has to decide on making big movies all the time, and occasional small Oscar worthy film, or what. In Hollywood you really can’t have it both ways. Ask Tom Cruise, or you could have asked Paul Newman up until he finally won in 1987 at aged 61 for The Color Of Money.

I’m not taking anything away from Mr. Smith, he is the most money earning black actor on the planet, and did the right thing in picking his projects. Frankly if it was me, show me the money too. Now its crunch time, and actors in his same spot want that Oscar, to show there fans. I can really act, and I’m not just an action adventure guy. What really helps when they play real people, on top of that with an accent. These things help, but don’t guarantee Oscar gold.

Will Smith has played real people in the past, and was passed up by that elusive gold statue. He was nominated for best actor for Ali 2002, and The Pursuit Of Happyness in 2007; and passed up for both. I didn’t think both performances were Oscar worth in the first place. I think Will over acted in both of these movies, Happyness being really the best performance. They were very good, but not good enough. I think an unknown actor should have played Ali, and would have won, since Ali himself was a larger than life person that was still living, and everyone knows who he is plus hes still very relevant.  Like Al Pacino in the Godfather, even though, Michael Corleone was a fictional character, but the gamble paid off, by Coppola betting on an unknown actor against Paramount honchos wishes.

I like Will Smith, he is a good actor, he’s what the doctor ordered for African American Cinema. We need a dozen Will Smith’s out there making big Hollywood money that are black, male or female we need them desperately. If he never wins an Oscar, we still have a very good actor, with great memorable performances. He should not fill to bad if he never wins, maybe he dose not care either way who knows. I will tell you he’s in a great company of male stars. Who have never won an acting Oscar, but are still legends, and with a list of great iconic performances.

We have Kirk Douglas, Van Johnson, Tony Curtis, John Garfield, Montgomery Clift, Steve McQueen,Dana Andrews, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, now that’s unbelievable hes been nominated 8 times. Albert Finney nominated 5 times no wins. These two not for acting Clint Eastwood, or Robert Redford. They both won for directing. Some have more than one. Dustin Hoffman, Spencer Tracy, Melvin Douglas,Fredric March, Jack Lemmon  Robert DeNiro, Sean Penn, Marlon Brando,and then Daniel Day-Lewis, with an amazing 3 Best Actor Oscars. The Academy award is like winning the Super Bowl. All you really need is one.

 

Will Smith got his star in show business as a rapper.