Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Reports of ‘Designing Women’ star Meshach Taylor’s Death are Premature

Meshach Taylor at his 67th birthday party in Toluca Lake, CA on April 12, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Meshach Taylor at his 67th birthday party in Toluca Lake, CA on April 12, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Actor Meshach Taylor is currently battling a 2 year bout with cancer, and on Friday, June 27, 2014, Taylor’s family posted this message on his Facebook page.

It is with love and gratitude that we sorrowfully announce that our darling, amazingly brilliant and dynamic, Meshach, the incredible father, husband, son and friend has begun his grand transition. Our friends who know and love us, please offer your prayers for his peace and blazing light as he ascends to the heavens. Those who need to call the family please do. Those who desire to post memories, we are open and graciously accepting all gestures of peace.

Love,
the Taylor Family
Tariq Taylor, Yasmine Taylor, Tamar Lashae Taylor, Esme Taylor

Due to this Facebook post, it was erroneously interpreted by fans and several news sites that he had passed.

As a close friend of the family, I just got off the phone with his daughter, Esme Taylor, and she confirmed that while he is terminally ill, the reports of his death are premature.

Meshach Taylor is best known for his Emmy-nominated turn as ex-con turned law student Anthony Bouvier on the CBS hit sitcom “Designing Women” (1986-1993), and for his portrayal of Hollywood Montrose, a flamboyant window dresser in the 1987 box office hit and cult classic romantic comedy film Mannequin. He played plastic surgeon Sheldon Baylor on the CBS sitcom “Dave’s World” (1993-1997), and appeared as Tony on the short-lived NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill opposite Dabney Coleman. From 2004-2007, Taylor played Alastair Wright, the history teacher turned school principal, on Nickelodeon’s sitcom, “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.”

Meshach Taylor was born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 11, 1947, but was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Indianapolis, Indiana. His parents, Hertha Ward Taylor and Joseph T. Taylor were college professors. In 1967, Taylor’s father became the first black dean of Indiana University’s downtown campus, and after the merger that created Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in 1969, he became the first dean of the new institution’s school of liberal arts. Taylor is the eldest of three, his siblings are Judith Taylor and Hussain Taylor. He has four children, his oldest daughter, Tamar Lashae Taylor  from his first marriage. He married Bianca Ferguson in 1983. They have three children, Yasmine Taylor, Esme Taylor, and son Tariq Taylor, and four grandchildren.

Taylor caught the acting bug in high school, then studied drama at Ohio’s Wilmington College, before transferring to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. A few credits short of completing his studies, Taylor returned to Indianapolis to work at a local radio station as a State House political correspondent. Taylor would return 20 years later to Florida A&M to complete his remaining requirements, and graduated on May 1, 1993.

Meshach Taylor, Jose Martinez, Dennis Franz and Joe Mantegna in Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1973). Photo courtesy of Joe Mantegna

Meshach Taylor, Jose Martinez, Dennis Franz and Joe Mantegna in Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1973). Photo courtesy of Joe Mantegna

Taylor’s first professional gig was in a National tour of the musical Hair. The last stop of the two year tour was Chicago. When the run concluded, Taylor stayed and honed his craft in repertory theater for eight years as a member of Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, and the Organic Theater Company alongside Mantegna, André De Shields, Dennis Franz, John Heard, Keith Szarabajka, Jack Wallace, and director Stuart Gordon. While in Chicago, he appeared in Streamers, Native Son (1979 Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination for Actor in a Principal Role in a Play), The Island, and Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, for which he garnered the 1977 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actor in a Principal Role in a Play. He received a Chicago Emmy Award for his role as Jim in the WTTV production of “Huckleberry Finn,” and hosted a Chicago television show “Black Life,” on the local NBC affiliate.

An Organic Theater Reunion at Meshach Taylor's 67th birthday in Toluca Lake, CA on April 12, 2014. From left to right: Joe Mantegna, Ina Jaffe, Arlene Mantegna, Jack Wallace, Meshach Taylor, Carolyn Gordon, John Heard, Lenny Kleinfeld, Keith Szarabajka, Josephine Paoletti, Vinny Guastaferro, Stuart Gordon, Dennis Franz, Roberta Custer. Photo by Lia Chang

An Organic Theater Reunion at Meshach Taylor’s 67th birthday in Toluca Lake, CA on April 12, 2014. From left to right: Joe Mantegna, Ina Jaffe, Arlene Mantegna, Jack Wallace, Meshach Taylor, Carolyn Gordon, John Heard, Lenny Kleinfeld, Keith Szarabajka, Josephine Paoletti, Vinny Guastaferro, Stuart Gordon, Dennis Franz, Roberta Custer. Photo by Lia Chang

Promotional portrait of the cast of the television series, 'Designing Women,' c. 1987. Clockwise from bottom left: Jean Smart, Alice Ghostley, Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts and Meshach Taylor. (Photo by Fotos International/Courtesy Getty Images)

Promotional portrait of the cast of the television series, ‘Designing Women,’ c. 1987. Clockwise from bottom left: Jean Smart, Alice Ghostley, Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts and Meshach Taylor. (Photo by Fotos International/Courtesy Getty Images)

In 1977, Taylor moved to Los Angeles, where he crafted a gallery of memorable characters in film and on television. In May 1981, the ninth season of “M*A*SH,” Taylor was seen as a corpsman in the final episode, “The Life You Save,” and appeared as Tony in the short-lived NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill opposite Dabney Coleman. From 1986 – 1993, Taylor played lovable ex-con turned law student Anthony Bouvier, the assistant at the fictitious Sugarbaker interior design firm in Atlanta, Georgia, on the CBS sitcom “Designing Women” starring Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts, and Jean Smart. In 1989, he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

From 1993 – 1997, he portrayed plastic surgeon Sheldon Baylor on the CBS sitcom “Dave’s World”. From 2004-2007, Taylor played Alastair Wright, the history teacher turned school principal, and appeared on Nickelodeon’s “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide”.

He appeared on “The Unit” (CBS), “Jessie” (Disney Channel),”“Hannah Montana” (Disney Channel), “The Drew Carey Show” (ABC), “Static Shock” (Kids WB!), “Caroline in the City” (NBC), “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” (Nickelodeon), “Women of the House” (CBS), “In the Heat of the Night” (NBC), “Punky Brewster” (NBC), “What’s Happening Now!”, “Hill Street Blues” (NBC), “ALF” (NBC), “Melba” (CBS), “The Golden Girls” (NBC), “Cagney & Lacey” (CBS), “Barney Miller” (ABC), “M*A*S*H” (CBS), “Lou Grant” (CBS), “The White Shadow” (CBS), “The Incredible Hulk” (CBS), and “Barnaby Jones”(CBS). His made-for-TV movies include The Right Connections with MC Hammer, Sidney Sheldon’s Nothing Lasts Forever with Brooke Shields, Virtual Seduction, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Double, Double, Toil and Trouble with the Olsen Twins.

Meshach Taylor and Toni Braxton in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast at the Palace Theatre in New York (1998). Photo courtesy of Playbill.com vault

Meshach Taylor and Toni Braxton in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast at the Palace Theatre in New York (1998). Photo courtesy of Playbill.com vault

In 1998, Taylor made his Broadway debut as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, starring alongside Toni Braxton and James Barbour.

In 1996, Taylor hosted his own series on HGTV,”The Urban Gardener with Meshach Taylor,” and in 1998, he hosted “Meshach Taylor’s Hidden Caribbean” on the Travel Channel. He was a regular panelist on the 2000 revival of the television game show ”To Tell the Truth”. He co-hosted “Living Live! with Florence Henderson” on Retirement Living TV; in 2008, the program was revamped as “The Florence Henderson Show”.

Hello dolly ... Andrew McCarthy and Meshach Taylor in Mannequin Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox/Sportsphoto

Hello dolly … Andrew McCarthy and Meshach Taylor in Mannequin Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox/Sportsphoto


Taylor has appeared in the feature films Mannequin and Mannequin Two: On the MoveDamien: Omen II, The Howling, Jacks or Better, Kid ‘N Play’s Class Act, How to Murder a Millionaire, David Mamet’s House of Games, The Allnighter, The Last Innocent Man with Ed Harris, Explorers, Friends and Family, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, One More Saturday Night, Warning Sign,Wigger, and Inside Out with Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason.

Keliher Walsh and Meshach Taylor in Year of the Rabbit. Photo by Betsy Newman

Keliher Walsh and Meshach Taylor in Year of the Rabbit. Photo by Betsy Newman

Taylor last appeared onstage at Ensemble Studio Theater-LA in Keliher Walsh’s Year of the Rabbit in 2012, playing Vietnam vet JC Bridges, who upon returning from his first tour in Vietnam in 1967, experienced hatred and racism in the turbulent States. The play examines wartime experiences from Vietnam and Afghanistan. Click here to read more about the play.

In November 2012, Taylor guest-starred on “Criminal Minds” (CBS) opposite Joe Mantegna (Rossi) as Harrison Scott, Rossi’s former Marine sergeant with whom he served in Vietnam on the episode, “The Fallen”. He reprised this role in the episode “The Road Home, ” helmed by Mantegna, which aired in January, 2014.


Click below to see some clips of Meshach on CRIMINAL MINDS, “The Road Home”.

Meshach Taylor turned 67 this year and was feted at the home of Arlene and Joe Mantegna in Toluca Lake, CA on April 12, 2014. My sister Tami and I were fortunate enough to join in on the family celebration with his wife Bianca Ferguson, daughters Tamar Taylor, Esme Taylor, Yasmine Taylor, and son Tariq Taylor.


Also in attendance: Taylor’s”Designing Women” co-stars Delta Burke and her husband Gerald McRaney, Jean Smart and her husband Richard Gilliland, his “Dave’s World” co-star Shadoe Stevens and his wife Beverly Cunningham, The Hudson Family- Ernie Hudson, his wife Linda and their sons Ross and Andrew.

 


Other articles on Meshach Taylor:
Photos: Meshach Taylor Celebrates 67th Birthday with Arlene and Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, Jean Smart, Dennis Franz, Ernie Hudson, John Heard, Keith Szarabajka, Stuart Gordon, Shadoe Stevens and More
indystar: Longtime IPS Teacher Celebrates 100th Birthday
Jan. 22: Emmy Award-Nominated Actor Meshach Taylor (“Designing Women”) Guest Stars on Criminal Minds as Rossi’s Former Marine Sergeant, Harrison Scott
Criminal Minds: The Road Home
hollywoodreporter.com: ‘Criminal Minds’: Joe Mantegna on Rossi’s Military Past, Teases Season Mystery
brittany-frederick.com: Interview with Joe Mantegna
Happy Birthday Meshach Taylor
tvline.com: Joe Mantegna: Criminal Minds’ Tribute to War Veterans Packs an Emmy-Caliber Performance
hollywoodreporter.com: ‘Criminal Minds’: Joe Mantegna on Rossi’s Military Past, Teases Season Mystery
xfinity.comcast.net: Joe Mantegna Thrilled About His ‘Criminal Minds’ Marine Storyline
Emmy Award-Nominated Actor Meshach Taylor (“Designing Women”) Guest Stars on Criminal Minds as Rossi’s Former Marine Sergeant, Harrison Scott on November 14, 2012
Meshach Taylor talks Wigger on Wendy Williams Show

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLXaDgr-ASc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wln9O9bjD9U
Playbill.com: Beauty’s Meshach Taylor and Nine’s Myra Lucretia Taylor Take Flight in L.A.By Ernio Hernandez (Jan. 22, 2005)
Playbill.com: Braxton-Taylor-Barbour Beast Begins Sept. 9 By Robert Simonson and Robert Viagas (Aug. 21, 1998)
Los Angeles Times: And Then There Was Anthony … : ‘DESIGNING WOMEN’S’ MESHACH TAYLOR ENDS THE SERIES AS HE BEGAN–WITH DIGNITY (May 23, 1993)
People: Designing Women’s Man (May 18, 1992)

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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