Childhood & Early Life
Holland Taylor was born on January 14, 1943, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Virginia and C Tracy Taylor. Her father was an attorney, and her mother was an acclaimed professional painter. She grew up with her two older sisters, Patricia and Pamela.
She studied at the ‘Westtown School,’ a boarding school in her home state. The desire to excel in performing arts had her aiming for a future in the entertainment industry. Soon after graduating high school, she enrolled at ‘Bennington College,’ from where she graduated in drama.
She was aware of the hardships that she would face if she moved to Los Angeles. She decided to venture into ‘Broadway’ first, which was at its prime in New York in the 1960s. She soon moved to New York and began appearing in ‘Broadway’ and ‘Off-Broadway’ projects. Her performances earned her accolades and a number of TV offers.
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Some of her earliest ‘Broadway’ roles were in the plays of acclaimed playwrights Simon Gray and AR Gurney. She was appreciated for her solid performances in ‘Broadway’ plays such as ‘The Cocktail Hour’ and ‘Butley.’ Her performance in ‘The Cocktail Hour’ earned her a ‘Drama Desk’ award nomination. Throughout the 1960s, the 1970s, and the 1980s, she appeared in both ‘Broadway’ and ‘Off-Broadway’ projects and managed them along with her successful film and TV career.
In 1969, Holland bagged her debut TV role in the series ‘J.T.’ It was a short-lived role that went unnoticed, and the series itself could not lift itself up and was canceled after a while. She then appeared in small roles in the series ‘Love Is a Many Splendored Thing,’ ‘Somerset,’ and ‘Beacon Hill.’
She made her film debut in the year 1976, when she played the role of a TV interviewer in the film ‘The Next Man.’ Although she starred in many small roles in the next few years, she could not manage to gain remarkable success in her acting career until the 1980s. In the 1980s, and she finally started getting noticed by a wider audience.
In the late 1970s, her soap opera ‘The Edge of Night’ brought her widespread fame. The show featured her as ‘Denise Cavanaugh,’ who was shown killing herself only to take revenge on her husband by framing him for the murder. Her performance in the soap opera earned her an offer from the producers of the sitcom ‘Bosom Buddies’ in 1980.
She earned a major role in the sitcom ‘Bosom Buddies,’ which starred Tom Hanks in the lead role. She played the role of his sexy and seductive boss. Over the next few years, as she started appearing in better roles, she proved that she was equally good in dramatic and comic roles. In the mid-1980s, her career received a boost with key roles in the series ‘Me and Mom’ and ‘Harry.’
In 1990, she teamed up yet again with the production team of ‘Bosom Buddies’ to star in the sitcom ‘Going Places.’ She appeared as a TV producer in the first 13 episodes of the sitcom. In 1992, she earned the role of the wife of a US senator in the series ‘The Powers that Be.’
The mid-90s brought Holland mixed success. That year, she was featured in the series ‘Saved by the Bell: The College Years.’ She appeared in the last few episodes of the series before it got canceled. In 1995, she earned a major career breakthrough with her starring role in the sitcom ‘The Naked Truth.’ She played the role of a newspaper editor in the series. Her character was one of the few characters that lasted till the series ended in 1998.
In 1998, she played the role of Jim Carrey’s mother in the science-fiction film ‘The Truman Show.’ The film was a huge box-office and critical success and eventually turned into a cult film. She then appeared in films such as ‘Legally Blonde,’ ‘Home Room,’ and two ‘Spy Kids’ films.
In 1998, she earned another major role of her career, in the series ‘The Practice.’ The legal drama had her playing a judge, one of the key recurring characters. Her role lasted on the show from its premiere in 1998 to its end in 2003. In 1999, she won the ‘Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress - Drama Series’ for her role in ‘The Practice.’
She had another critically acclaimed stint in the ‘AMC’ comedy–drama series ‘The Lot.’ She played a recurring character in the series, and it paved her way to the most memorable role of her career. In 2003, she was offered the role of the mother of the lead characters in the sitcom ‘Two and a Half Men.’ Her role was appreciated, and she earned four ‘Emmy Award’ nominations for her performance in the series.
She also starred in series such as ‘Veronica’s Closet,’ ‘ER,’ and ‘The L Word.’
In 2009, she turned to theater again. She wrote a one-woman play about Texas governor Ann Richards. The two-act play was titled ‘Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards’ and made its debut in Chicago, where it was appreciated by critics. Holland took the play to several other venues and ended up earning a ‘Tony Award’ nomination for the ‘Best Lead Actress in a Play.’
Holland Taylor has never married and has mostly remained silent about her sexuality. She confirmed in 2015 that she was lesbian. However, she has always kept the identities of her lovers hidden. In a recent interview, she revealed her relationship with Sarah Paulson. Sarah is 31 years younger to her. Holland once clarified in an interview that the age gap did not matter to her.
Around the early 2000s, she became interested in spirituality and attained her master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the ‘University of Santa Monica.’