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'Jim Fitzpatrick breaks new ground. His rigorous research and close readings of period accounts offer the reader a vivid portrayal of Taylor the man, and the notorious factors that led to Taylor quitting the sport at the top of his talents'. Peter Nye, author of Hearts of Lions
'A great read … a very nice job of historical setting while keeping the narrative moving at a fast pace'. Ronald A. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Exercise and Sport Science at the Pennsylvania State University
‘I found it gripping and insightful and marvellously sad ... a superb piece of work.’ Michael McKernan, University of New South Wales
See IMDB for more details.
Principal photography began in May, 1991 in Adelaide, Australia. It premiered as a telemovie on the Disney Channel (U.S.) in February, 1992; the full miniseries on ABC television (U.S.) in June and in Australia in July, then other countries. It won the 1993 Australian Logie award as Most Popular Telemovie or Mini-series.
Major Taylor and Don Walker, Australian Champion, Sydney Cricket Ground, January, 1903
Jim talks about Major Taylor's career. Video by John S. Allen
The Sydney Cricket Ground, January 1903. Grandstands are lit by electric lights, and gas lights are suspended above the one-third mile concrete cycle track that encircles the Cricket oval
Marshall W. 'Major' Taylor (1878-1932) broke the American racial barrier in professional bicycle racing in 1896. He was crowned cycling's World Sprint Champion three years later.
Cameron Daddo and Phil Morris filming a racing scene
The fifth-mile, lit, Melbourne cycle track at the Exhibition Ground, circa 1900
However, in 1904 Floyd MacFarland (lower left), a vindictive racist, went to Australia to confront him. He brought with him Iver Lawson, another racist, who would win the World Championship six months later in London.
Taylor, Lawson and MacFarland produced the single most amazing and controversial series of cycle races in the history of Australia. In 1904 the three fought out racially charged battles before capacity crowds.
During that summer Taylor suffered the most severe injury of his career; had a nervous breakdown at the end of it; did not race again for three years, though at the peak of his career; and effectively never again raced in America.
Jim with Jan Brown, Major Taylor's great-granddaughter, Worcester, Massachusetts, June 2011
Because of his race as well as his talent, Major Taylor consistently attracted larger crowds than any other cyclist in the world. Taylor was big business in his own right, and was the highest paid and most famous athlete in the world's most popular sport at the time.
The world's richest bicycle race was created in Australia to get him Down Under in 1903. Free of the racial problems in America, it was the most enjoyable tour of his career.
Cam won the 1993 Australian Logie Award for Most Popular Actor
Phil Morris, Richard Roxburgh and Jim, when mobile phones barely were
A lot of time is spent waiting on a movie set.
The producer, Damien Parer, Jr., and Skip Watkins, the stills photographer, briefed me on how to play my part as an immobile spectator, in my screen debut.
With Lynne Tolman, of the Major Taylor Association, at the Taylor Sculpture, Worcester Massachusetts, June 2011