Rod Taylor, the Australian-born actor who starred in The Time Machine and The Birds, died this week in Los Angeles at age 84. He was home with family and loved ones, according to a statement released by his daughter, Felicia Taylor.
“My dad loved his work. Being an actor was his passion — calling it an honorable art and something he couldn’t live without,” she said.
Taylor, whose last role was a cameo as Sir Winston Churchill in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, made his mark in the genre with The Time Machine, the classic H.G. Wells story about inventor George Wells. The film, directed by George Pal, won an Oscar for special effects, and lands Taylor’s character in the year 802,701. There he encounters and helps defeat the underground-dwelling Morlocks before returning to his own time.
Three years later, he was helping Tippi Hedren fend off aviary psychos in The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Hedren shared her thoughts about Taylor on Friday: “Rod was a great pal to me … we were very, very good friends,” she told CNN. “He was one of the most fun people I have ever met, thoughtful and classy, there was everything good in that man.”
Interestingly, Taylor had also been considered for the role of astronaut George Taylor in the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes, but 20th Century Fox selected Charlton Heston instead, considering Heston to be the bigger box office name between the two.
No cause of death was given.