Grant Taylor (actor)

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Grant Taylor (6 December 1917 – 1971), real name Ronald Grant Taylor, was an English-born actor best known as the abrasive General Henderson in the Gerry Anderson science fiction series UFO and for his lead role in Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940).

Early life[edit]

Taylor was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in England, but moved to Australia with his parents as a child. For a time he worked as a professional boxer in Melbourne under the name of Lance Matheson. According to a later newspaper report, he had 70 bouts, lost 8 and drew 11.[1]

Acting debut[edit]

Cinesound Productions were looking for someone with wrestling skills to play the part of a gorilla in Gone to the Dogs (1939), so Taylor auditioned. He did not get the part but met Alec Kellaway who persuaded him to join Cinesound's Talent School.[2]

Ken G. Hall said that one of the problems of the Australian industry of this time was they "were consistently short of trained juveniles and ingenues".[3] Cinesound in particular had a great deal of trouble finding male romantic leads. They either left to work in radio (Dick Fair), returned overseas (John Longden, Billy Rayes), left for overseas (Frank Leighton), or died (Brian Abbot). Cinesound Talent School was partly founded with an intention to rectify this.[4]

Taylor's physique, good looks and charm saw Ken G. Hall cast him as the juvenile lead in Dad Rudd, MP (1940) opposite Yvonne East. The Sydney Truth later wrote:

Taylor... scored in the scenes of the flood, where, clad in oilskins, he shouted instructions above the torrent of the waters. He was happier in the romantic finale, too, than Australian leading men are wont to be. But lighting did not flatter his appearance, nor microphone his voice, in some of the early scenes.[5]

Forty Thousand Horsemen and Stardom[edit]

Taylor was then selected by Charles Chauvel to play the lead role of 'Red' Gallagher in the war film Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940). Chauvel had cast Errol Flynn in his first lead role. His wife Elsa described Taylor as like "a big kid on the set.[6]

This movie was a massive international success and a Hollywood or English career beckoned, but Taylor elected to stay in Australia. Career-wise it proved to be a bad decision, as film production in Australia declined sharply with the advent of World War II and Taylor was unable to follow up his success immediately.

Army service[edit]

Taylor enlisted in the Australian army on 7 October 1942. During the war he served as a military policeman, in the Army Amenities Unit based in Sydney[7] and in the Australian Army Entertainment Unit alongside Smoky Dawson.[8] Part of his duties involved visiting the troops and touring the islands.

Taylor was given leave to appear in some propaganda shorts, such as While There is Still Time (1942), 100,000 Cobbers (1942), Another Threshold (1942) and South West Pacific (1943). He was allowed to appear in the feature The Rats of Tobruk (1944), which reunited him with Chauvel and Chips Rafferty.[9]

In 1945, it was announced that he would star in another Chauvel film, Green Mountain, but by the time the movie was actually made in 1949 (as Sons of Matthew), he did not appear in it.[10] His final film made during his army service was Australia Is Like This (1945). He appeared in A Soldier for Christmas at the Minerva Theatre in Kings Cross.

Taylor was discharged on 26 February 1946.[11]

Post War career[edit]

After the war Taylor was unable to consolidate his position as a film star, and saw the majority of leading man roles go instead to actors such as Charles Tingwell and Chips Rafferty. However he remained busy as a character actor, and in radio and theatre.

He was a sergeant in Eureka Stockade (1949) - Rafferty had the leading role - and played a thug in The Kangaroo Kid (1950). He took part in the 1951 re-enactment of Sir Charles Sturt's journey down the Murrimbidgee River, playing Sturt - a film of this was made, called Inland with Sturt (1951). He had a role in another short, Far West Story (1952) then returned to lead roles when he played the title part in Captain Thunderbolt (1953).

He was cast in a support role in a Hollywood film shot in Fiji, His Majesty O'Keefe (1954). The director, Byron Haskin liked Taylor's performance and used him again as a pirate in Long John Silver, and its television spin off, The Adventures of Long John Silver. His son Kit played Jim Hawkins. He was in two big stage hits, Dial M for Murder and Teahouse of the August Moon.

In the late 1950s Taylor appeared in several productions for the Elizabethan Theatre Trust, including The Slaughter of St Teresa's Day.

In 1959 Taylor appeared in a brief role in Stanley Kramer's On the Beach.[12] He played a mystery man in Smiley Gets a Gun (1958), and a policeman in The Siege of Pinchgut (1959). He toured with a production of Fire on the Wind.

He had several roles in Whiplash (1960-61). He then focused on theatre, touring the country in The Pleasure of His Company (1960), Bye Bye Birdie (1961), and Woman in a Dressing Gown (1962-63).

Taylor made his live TV debut in Funnel Web (1962) for the ABC, playing a murderer. The Sydney Morning Herald called his performance "easy-limbed, masterful".[13] He had good roles in the TV plays Jenny (1962), Flowering Cherry (1963), The Right Thing (1964), and The One That Got Away (1964).

In 1964 he appeared in the ABC-TV children's adventure serial The Stranger, Australia's first locally produced science fiction TV series,[14] which was also sold to the BBC. He was in an episode of Adventure Unlimited.

Return to the UK[edit]

Returning to the United Kingdom in early 1963, Taylor worked on the long-running medical drama Emergency Ward 10. This led to plenty of work in character roles, from Anglia TV's soap opera Weavers Green (where Taylor had a regular part[15]) and several Lew Grade-backed projects, including The Avengers, The Champions and The Troubleshooters. He also appeared in a British TV adaptation of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1964).

He appeared in a production of Twelve Angry Men on the West End and had a regular role in the TV series Weaver's Green' (1966)'[16][17] He was a Scots border chieftain in the BBC's 1968 colour costume drama The Borderers.

His most fondly-remembered role was in the Gerry Anderson science fiction series UFO, where he played sometime-ally, sometime-antagonist General Henderson. His last appearance in the series was in the penultimate episode 'Mindbender', where he also appears as himself, acting the role of Henderson in the studio.

On the movie side Taylor appeared in the big-screen adaptation of Quatermass and the Pit (1967) and opposite the kids in Calamity the Cow (with Phil Collins).

Personal life[edit]

Taylor's wife, Jean, was fatally injured in an accident at their Potts Point home after she fell over on her way back from a party on 23 April 1956. She was taken to hospital and died a few days later of bronchial pneumonia.[18]

He was kicked in the head filming a brawl while making Smiley Gets a Gun and had to take off a number of days.[19]

He died of cancer in 1971 aged 54.

Filmography[edit]

Select TV credits[edit]

  • The Adventures of Long John Silver (1955) – TV series
  • Funnel Web (1960) – TV play[20]
  • Whiplash (1961) – episodes "Barbed Wire", "Ribbons and Wheels", "Storm River"
  • Jenny (1962) – TV movie
  • Flowering Cherry (1963) – TV movie[21]
  • The Right Thing (1963) – Tv movie
  • The One That Got Away (1964) – TV play[22]
  • Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1964) – TV movie part of Thursday Theatre
  • Adventure Unlimited- Ep 6 "The Buffalo Hunters" (1963)
  • The Stranger (1964) – TV series
  • The Saint (1964) – episode "The Loving Brothers" - all Australian episode directed by Leslie Norman with Ray Barrett
  • The Villains (1964)
  • Emergency Ward 10 (1964) – episode 1.713
  • ITV Play of the Week (1964) – "Deep and Crisp and Stolen"
  • ITV Play of the Week (1965) – "Breaking Point"
  • Court Martial (1965) – episode "A Date with Celeste"
  • The Stranger (1965)
  • The Wednesday Play – "The Pistol" (1965)
  • The Wednesday Play – "A Pyre for Private James" (1966)
  • Weavers Green (1966) – regular for TV series[23]
  • BBC Play of the Month: Lee Oswald Assassin (1966)
  • ITV Play of the Week (1967) – "The Investigation"
  • The Avengers (1968) – episode "Killer"
  • Champion House (1967) – episode "The One That Got Away"
  • Trapped (1967) – episode "Journey Into Nowhere"
  • Escape (1967) – episode "Five Men for Freedom"
  • Uncle Charles (1967) – episode "Patience"
  • Sherlock Holmes (1968) – episode "Thor Bridge"
  • The Champions (1968) – episode "Happening"
  • The Troubleshooters – TV series
  • Mogul (1967) – episodes "Twenty Years is No Time at All", "Thanks for Nothing"
  • City '68 (1968) – episode "The Jonah Site
  • Armchair Theatre (1968) – episode "Home Movies"
  • The Jazz Age (1968) – episode "Winner Take All"
  • The Borderers (1968) – episode "Vengeance"
  • Detective (1969) – TV series
  • Judge Dee (1969) – episode "A Festival of Death"
  • ITV Playhouse – "The Friendly Persuaders" (1969)
  • Doomwatch (1970) – episode "Re-entry Forbidden"
  • UFO (1970–71) – TV series

Select theatre credits[edit]

Select radio credits[edit]

  • Press Gang (1946) – ABC variety show
  • Invitation to Melody (April 1946) – variety show, Taylor was compere[37]
  • The Atlantic Show (Dec 1946) – with Bob Dyer[38]
  • Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (Sept 1947) – with Muriel Steinbeck[39]
  • The First Gentleman (Sept 1947) – 2UW[40]
  • Shenandoah (Dec 1947) – the story of a Melbourne Cup winner[41]
  • Romona (March 1948)[42]
  • The Egg and I (November 1948)[43]
  • Men in White – (November 1948)[44]
  • Nurse White (December 1948)[45]
  • Fortune's Wheel (March 1949) – a serial[46]
  • Seal Island (May, 1949)[47]
  • Red Anemones (May 1949)[48]
  • The Velvet Touch (November, 1949)[49]
  • Big City
  • Body and Soul (February 1949) – with Ruth Cracknell[50]
  • The Maltese Falcon (July 1949)[51]
  • Doctor Paul (1949)
  • The Saxby Millions (1949)
  • Night Beat (1950)
  • 'The Battling Bensons (1950)
  • January's Daughter (1950)
  • Vengeance is Mine (1950)
  • The Last of Mrs Cheyney (Aug 1950)[52]
  • Homecoming (October 1950)[53]
  • The Sturt Expedition (Jan-March 1951) – nightly updates from the re-enactment of Charles Sturt's journey
  • Vengeance in Mine (Nov 1951) – with Muriel Steinbeck by Tony Scott Veitch[54]
  • Black Lightning (1952)
  • The Harp in the South (1952)
  • Spies in Melbourne (July 1952) – with Ken Wayne, Ruth Cracknell[55]
  • The Jay Martell Show (August 1952) – compare[56]
  • The Saxby Millions (Sept 1952) – a serial[57]
  • Mobilsong (Sept 1953) – a variety show[58]
  • The Battling Bensons (Oct 1953) – a serial by Tony Scott Veitch[59]
  • They Were Champions (Sept 1954) – he narrated the story of boxer Bob Fitzsimmons who was played by Rod Taylor[60]
  • Strange Stories of the Sea (Sept – December 1954)[61]
  • The Fire of Etna (1955)
  • Harry Dearth's Playhouse (1956)
  • The Hidden Truth
  • Shenandoah
  • The Wally Norman Show
  • Interpol Confidential (1961)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The LIGHTHORSE Rides Again.". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 18 July 1940. p. 3. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  2. ^ 'New Romantic Lead', Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 15 February 1940, p24
  3. ^ Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Lansdowne Press, 1977p 157
  4. ^ 'Australians Seek Fame, 200 in Starlet School' Sunday Times (Perth), Sunday 30 June 1940 p6
  5. ^ "the Diary of a Talkie Tourist". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 16 June 1940. p. 34. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Australian Films in the Making.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 11 June 1940. p. 9 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Queries answered.". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 26 May 1945. p. 8. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  8. ^ http://www.australianbiography.gov.au/subjects/dawson/intertext5.html
  9. ^ "VARIETY.". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 24 March 1946. p. 32. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  10. ^ 'Questions', The Mail (Adelaide), Saturday 28 April 1945 p8
  11. ^ War Service Record
  12. ^ Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  13. ^ "Thriller Play on Channel 2" Sydney Morning Herald 26 April 1962 accessed 15 March 2015
  14. ^ IMDb – The Stranger
  15. ^ "The Light Horseman rides again.". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 15 June 1966. p. 9. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "Australian Rod Taylor's BBC role". The Canberra Times. 40, (11,369). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 20 January 1966. p. 19. Retrieved 7 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  17. ^ "The Light Horseman rides again". The Australian Women's Weekly. 34, (3). Australia, Australia. 15 June 1966. p. 9. Retrieved 7 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  18. ^ "Wife Of Actor Dies After Fall". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 May 1956. p. 8. 
  19. ^ "Actor Kicked In Head In Film Brawl Scene". Sydney Morning Herald. 19 December 1957. p. 5. 
  20. ^ Funnel Web at National Film and Sound Archive
  21. ^ The Flowering Cherry at National Film and Sound Archive
  22. ^ The One That Got Away at National Film and Sound archive
  23. ^ "Australian Rod Taylor's BBC role.". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 20 January 1966. p. 19. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  24. ^ ""A SOLDIER FOR CHRISTMAS".". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 2 January 1945. p. 4. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  25. ^ "Theatre in Sydney.". Le Courrier Australien. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 8 August 1947. p. 7. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  26. ^ "Behind The Mike.". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 29 August 1948. p. 30. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  27. ^ "DRAMA AT MINERVA.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 9 November 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  28. ^ "Barrie At Minerva.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 28 December 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  29. ^ "Melodrama Scores At Minerva.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 21 December 1948. p. 5. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  30. ^ "Huxley Play Is Sermon With Thrills.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 8 March 1949. p. 7. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  31. ^ "AUSTRALIAN PLAY 'NEEDS OVERHAUL'.". The News. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 28 June 1949. p. 15. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  32. ^ "MUSIC AND THE THEATRE.". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 27 November 1949. p. 6 Supplement: Features. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "Mosman Pirates In Play For Children.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 28 December 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "MISS BERGNER-How She Keeps A Boyish-looking Line.". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 16 July 1950. p. 9 Supplement: Features. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Murder play is slow.". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 31 August 1953. p. 4. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Thriller Opens At Royal.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 12 October 1953. p. 5. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  37. ^ "RADIO HIGH SPOTS.". Sunday Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 7 April 1946. p. 6. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  38. ^ "BROADCASTING PROGRAMMES.". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 7 December 1946. p. 18. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  39. ^ "Behind The Mike.". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 14 September 1947. p. 51. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  40. ^ "Behind The Mike.". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 28 September 1947. p. 51. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  41. ^ "Exciting Racing Drama.". The Advertiser. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 31 December 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  42. ^ "Singing About The Weather On 2CH.". The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate. Parramatta, NSW: National Library of Australia. 3 March 1948. p. 9. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  43. ^ "RADIO NEWS.". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 13 November 1948. p. 20. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  44. ^ "Pulitzer Play On 5 AD; A.B.C.'s "Magic Flute".". The Advertiser. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 20 November 1948. p. 8. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  45. ^ "Behind The Mike.". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 12 December 1948. p. 41. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  46. ^ "RADIOPINION.". Sunday Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 13 March 1949. p. 7. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  47. ^ "Radio Programmes Orchestral Concert, 2NC.". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. National Library of Australia. 27 May 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  48. ^ "Programmes On Your Radio.". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 22 May 1949. p. 9. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  49. ^ "Radio Programmes.". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 6 November 1949. p. 11 Supplement: Features. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  50. ^ "On Your Radio To-day.". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 13 February 1949. p. 12. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  51. ^ "Radio Programmes "Letters to a Lady" On 2NA To-night.". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. National Library of Australia. 16 July 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  52. ^ "Programmes On Your Radio To-day.". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 27 August 1950. p. 11 Supplement: Sunday Herald Features. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  53. ^ "TODAY'S RADIO HIGHLIGHTS.". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 22 October 1950. p. 38. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  54. ^ "Radio Notes.". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 11 November 1951. p. 12. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  55. ^ "GUY CRITTENDEN'S 2WL RADIO ROUND-UP.". South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus. NSW: National Library of Australia. 7 July 1952. p. 2 Section: South Coast Times AND WOLLONGONG ARGUS FEATURE SECTION. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  56. ^ "TODAY'S RADIO PROGRAMMES.". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 22 August 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  57. ^ "RADIO PROGRAMMES Two new serials and a play begin today.". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 22 September 1952. p. 6. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  58. ^ "Mobilsong Radio of Famous Lives.". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 4 September 1953. p. 11. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  59. ^ "AUST SETTING IN SERIAL DRAMA.". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 29 October 1953. p. 8. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  60. ^ "TO-DAY'S RADIO PROGRAMMES IN DETAIL.". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 17 September 1954. p. 11. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  61. ^ "TO-DAY'S FULL GUIDE TO RADIO.". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 9 December 1954. p. 18. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 

External links[edit]