Birthday: April 11, 1947
Died At Age: 67
Sun Sign: Aries
Born Country: United States
Born in: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Famous as: Actor
Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Bianca Ferguson (m. 1983–2014), Sandra Taylor (m. 1969–1980)
father: Joseph T. Taylor
mother: Hertha Mae Ward
siblings: Hussain, Judith
children: Esme Taylor, Tamar Taylor, Tariq Taylor, Yasmine Taylor
Died on: June 28, 2014
place of death: Altadena, California, United States
Cause of Death: Cancer
U.S. State: Massachusetts, African-American From Massachusetts
Who was Meshach Taylor?
Meshach Taylor was an American actor best known for his Emmy-nominated television role as jailbird-turned-assistant Anthony Bouvier in the CBS sitcom 'Designing Women' and his notable film role as Hollywood Montrose in the two films 'Mannequin' and 'Mannequin 2: On the Move'. Starting out as a State House political correspondent at an Indianapolis radio station, he honed his acting skills at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and the Organic Theater Company. A prolific theatre actor, he received an 'Emmy Award' for portraying Jim in 'Huckleberry Finn', which was produced by Organic Theatre in collaboration with Goodman Theatre and was recorded for a WTTW-TV special. He made his Broadway debut as Lumiere in the 1988 production of 'Beauty and the Beast'. He was a regular cast of television series like 'Buffalo Bill', 'Dave's World' and 'Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide', and also had guest roles on several TV shows including 'Lou Grant', 'M*A*S*H', 'Hill Street Blues', 'What's Happening Now!', 'Burke's Law', 'Women of the House', 'The Drew Carey Show', 'Hannah Montana', 'Jessie' and 'Criminal Minds'. His last theatre role was that of Vietnam veteran JC Bridges in 'Year of the Rabbit' at Ensemble Studio Theater in September 2012.
Childhood & Early Life
Meshach Taylor was born on April 11, 1947 in Boston, Massachusetts to Hertha Mae (née Ward) and Joseph T. Taylor. His father, a former dean of students at Dillard University in New Orleans, was named the first dean of School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis in 1972.
He grew up in New Orleans with brother Hussain and sister Judith, until his family moved to Indianapolis, where he attended Crispus Attucks High School. By the time he graduated in 1964, he had become interested in acting, and took up the dramatic arts programs at Wilmington College in Ohio and later at the Florida A&M University.
He left Florida A&M University shortly before completing his graduation to work as a radio reporter in Indianapolis. However, he returned 20 years later to finish his bachelor's degree in theatre arts in May 1993.
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Leaving college early, Meshach Taylor began working in Indianapolis as a State House reporter for AM radio station WIFE (now WTLC) using the on-air name Bruce Thomas. He also hosted a community-affairs program on television station WLWI (now WTHR) as Bruce Taylor.
His first professional acting job was in a national tour of the rock musical 'Hair', following which he became a member of Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. He appeared in David Rabe's 'Streamers', 'Native Son', 'The Island' and Athol Fugard’s 'Sizwe Banzi Is Dead', the last of which earned him the 1977 'Joseph Jefferson Award'.
He also worked at the Organic Theater Company alongside Joe Mantegna, André DeShields, Dennis Franz, Keith Szarabajka, Jack Wallace, and director Stuart Gordon.
In 1977, he moved to Los Angles and appeared in minor roles in popular horror films like 'Damien: Omen II' (1978), 'The Howling' (1981) and 'The Beast Within' (1982).
His early television appearances were in series such as 'Barnaby Jones', 'Lou Grant', 'M*A*S*H', 'Barney Miller' and 'Hill Street Blues'. He appeared in the regular role of Tony on the promising, but short-lived series 'Buffalo Bill' in 1983-84.
In 1986, he bagged the breakthrough role of the lovable ex-con turned law student, Anthony Bouvier, on the CBS sitcom 'Designing Women', for which he received a 'Primetime Emmy Award' nomination in 1989.
He also found success on the big screen in the role of flamboyant window dresser Hollywood Montrose on the cult classic romantic comedy 'Mannequin' (1987), and its 1991 sequel 'Mannequin 2: On the Move'.
After 'Designing Women' ended in 1993, he became a series regular on 'Dave's World' (1993-97) as plastic surgeon Sheldon Baylor. His most prominent television role in recent times was as Alastair Wright on 'Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide' from 2004 to 2007.
While Meshach Taylor's best television role was that of Anthony Bouvier on 'Designing Women', he also earned praise for his roles on 'Buffalo Bill' and 'Dave's World'. On films, he is undoubtedly best known for portraying Hollywood Montrose in the two 'Mannequin' films.
Family & Personal Life
Meshach Taylor began dating his first wife Sandra one year before their marriage in 1969. They were together for 11 years before divorcing in 1980.
He married actress Bianca Ferguson in 1983. The two had three children, while he also had a child from his first marriage.
On June 28, 2014, he succumbed to colorectal cancer while in hospice care at his home in Altadena, California. He was survived by his 100-year-old mother, two siblings, wife and four children – daughters Tamar, Esme, and Yasmine, and son Tariq.
To celebrate Meshach Taylor's life and achievements, a memorial service was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, on July 6, 2014.