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The Birds Actor Rod Taylor Has Died at 84

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Everett Collection

Handsome leading man Rod Taylor died of natural causes Wednesday, his rep tells PEOPLE. He was 84.

The Australia-born movie star appeared in more than 50 Hollywood films throughout his career, from The Time Machine and The Train Robbers to The Catered Affair. More recently, he voiced Pongo in Disney’s family-favorite 101 Dalmatians and played Winston Churchill in Inglourious Basterds.

But his most iconic role was that of Mitch Brenner in Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1963 classic The Birds, opposite Tippi Hedren.

“There are so many incredible feelings I have for him. Rod was a great pal to me and a real strength, we were very, very good friends,” Hedren, 84, said in a statement. “He was one of the most fun people I have ever met, thoughtful and classy, there was everything good in that man.”

Taylor died at home, surrounded by his family and friends. He is survived by Carol, his wife of 35 years, and his daughter Felicia.

“My dad loved his work. Being an actor was his passion – calling it an honorable art and something he couldn t live without,” Felicia, a former CNN News correspondent, said in a statement.

“He once said, ‘I am a poor student sitting at the feet of giants, yearning for their wisdom and begging for lessons that might one day make me a complete artist,” she continued, ” ‘so that if all goes well, I may one day sit beside them.’ ”