Rod Taylor, star of Hitchcock thriller The Birds, dies aged 84

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Rod Taylor, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller The Birds, has died aged 84.

Taylor, who was born in Sydney but lived in Los Angeles, is reported to have died at his home after a dinner party, surrounded by his family. His daughter, Felicia Taylor, said: “My dad loved his work. Being an actor was his passion, calling it an honourable art and something he couldn’t live without.”

Taylor, who was the son of a construction worker and a writer, decided to become an actor after seeing Laurence Olivier perform in a touring production. He moved to Hollywood from Australia in 1954 in the hope of breaking into film and in 1960 landed a part in the adaptation of HG Wells’s The Time Machine, which has since become a sci-fi classic, before he was cast by Hitchcock as a lead in The Birds.

While he never made it into the ranks of the Hollywood greats, at his height Taylor co-starred alongside Doris Day, John Wayne and Richard Burton. He played opposite Jane Fonda in romantic comedy Sunday in New York and in The VIPs was part of a cast that included Elizabeth Taylor and Orson Welles. He also voiced one of the dogs in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians in 1961.

Taylor retired from acting in 1987 but Quentin Tarantino, a long-time fan, gave him a cameo as Winston Churchill in Inglourious Basterds in 2009.

Tippi Hedren also paid tribute to her co-star in The Birds and said Taylor had been “a great pal to me and a real strength”.

“He was one of the most fun people I have ever met, thoughtful and classy. There was everything good in that man,” she said.

Taylor is survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Carol, and his daughter, Felicia who is a former CNN News correspondent.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Hannah Ellis-Petersen, for The Guardian on Friday 9th January 2015 18.54 Europe/London

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