Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Memorial Service to Celebrate ‘Designing Women’ Star Meshach Taylor at Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills

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

Friends, family and fans of actor Meshach Taylor, who lost his battle with cancer last month at the age of 67, will honor his life and legacy at a memorial service in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 6, 2014 at Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles, CA 90068. The memorial service will be held in the Old North Church at noon, and is open to the public.  If you are not able to attend, you can watch the live streamed webcast of the service by clicking here at noon.

Taylor, whose career spanned over four decades on television, in films and on the Broadway and regional stage, became a household name with his Emmy-nominated turn as lovable ex-con turned law student Anthony Bouvier during seven seasons from 1986 – 1993, on the CBS sitcom “Designing Women,” and for his portrayal of Hollywood Montrose, a flamboyant window dresser in the 1987 box office hit and cult classic romantic comedy film Mannequin and the 1991 sequel Mannequin 2: On the Move.

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

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

The beloved actor, devoted husband and father, was surrounded by his wife Bianca Ferguson Taylor, his 100-year-old mother Hertha Ward Taylor, his daughters, Tamar Lashae Taylor, Yasmine Taylor, Esme Taylor, and his son Tariq Taylor, when he passed away peacefully in hospice care at home in Altadena, CA. on June 28, 2014.

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.

Meshach Taylor at his 67th birthday party in Toluca Lake, CA on April 12, with his daughters Esme Taylor, Yasmine Taylor, Tamar Lashae Taylor, and his son Tariq Taylor. Photo by Lia Chang

Meshach Taylor at his 67th birthday party in Toluca Lake, CA on April 12, with his daughters Esme Taylor, Yasmine Taylor, Tamar Lashae Taylor, and his son Tariq Taylor. Photo by Lia Chang

Meshach Taylor was born in Boston, MA, on April 11, 1947, but was raised in New Orleans, LA, and Indianapolis, IN. 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. indystar: Longtime IPS Teacher Celebrates 100th Birthday

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

Meshach Taylor in the Goodman Theatre's production of Huck Finn (c. 1976). Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre Archives

Meshach Taylor in the Goodman Theatre’s production of Huck Finn (c. 1976). Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre Archives

Meshach Taylor in the Goodman Theatre's 1978 production of Native Son. Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre Archive

Meshach Taylor in the Goodman Theatre’s 1978 production of Native Son. Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre Archive

Lionel Smith and Meshach Taylor in the Goodman Theatre's production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead. Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre Archives

Lionel Smith and Meshach Taylor in the Goodman Theatre’s production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead. Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre Archives

Taylor caught the acting bug while attending Crispus Attucks High School. He graduated in 1964, then studied drama at Ohio’s Wilmington College, before transferring to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL. A few credits short of completing his studies, Taylor returned to Indianapolis to work at a local radio station as a State House reporter for AM radio station WIFE (now WTLC), where he used the on-air name Bruce Thomas, and as the host of a community-affairs program on television station WLWI (now WTHR), as Bruce Taylor.

Taylor would return 20 years later to Florida A&M to complete his remaining requirements, and graduated on May 1, 1993. In 2011, Taylor was enshrined into the College of Arts and Sciences’ Thomas DeSaille Tucker Hall’s Gallery of Distinction at FAMU. It is one of the highest honors the university bestows upon one of its graduates, and specifically honors the contributions alumni have made to their disciplines, organizations, and communities at the local, national, or international level.

Taylor’s first professional gig was touring for two years in the musical Hair. The final stop was Chicago, and 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 Joe Mantegna, André De Shields, Dennis Franz, John Heard, Keith Szarabajka, Jack Wallace, and director Stuart Gordon who remained life long friends, many of whom came together to celebrate Taylor’s 67th birthday in April.

While in Chicago, Taylor appeared in Streamers, Native Son (1979 Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination for Actor in a Principal Role in a Play), The Island, and Athol Fugard’s politically charged 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. goodmantheatre.com: Goodman Theatre Remembers Meshach Taylor (July 1, 2014)

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

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

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 over the next 36 years he  worked steadily, crafting 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 Anthony Bouvier, 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” with Harry Anderson and Shadoe Stevens. From 2004-2007, Taylor played Alastair Wright, the history teacher turned school principal, and appeared on Nickelodeon’s “Ned’s Declassified School Guide”.

Taylor’s other TV guest starring appearances included roles  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).

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 also appeared in the feature films Damien: 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.

Meshach Taylor © Lia Chang

Meshach Taylor © Lia Chang

Taylor had the opportunity to indulge two of his passions – gardening and travel – hosting his own series on HGTV, “The Urban Gardener with Meshach Taylor” in 1996, and on the Travel Channel, “Meshach Taylor’s Hidden Caribbean” in 1998. 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”.

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

James Barbour, Toni Braxton and James Babour in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. Photo courtesy of Playbill.com

James Barbour, Toni Braxton and James Babour in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. Photo courtesy of Playbill.com

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

Taylor’s last TV guest-starring appearances included two episodes of “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,” which aired in November, 2012. He reprised this role in the episode “The Road Home,” in  series star Joe Mantegna’s directorial debut, which aired in January, 2014.

Taylor is survived by his wife, Bianca Ferguson Taylor, his daughters Tamar Lashae Taylor, Yasmine Taylor, Esme Taylor, his son Tariq Taylor, his mother Hertha Ward Taylor, his sister Judith Taylor, his brother Hussain Taylor, and his four grandchildren.

Click on the link below to see the beautiful memorial tribute for Meshach commissioned by Wigger filmmaker Omowale Akintunde and produced by Victoria White.

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Other Articles about Meshach Taylor:
Joe Mantegna to Helm ‘Criminal Minds’ Season 10 Episode to Honor the late Meshach Taylor
gainesville.com: ‘Designing Women’ actor Meshach Taylor dies (July 2, 2014)
newnownext.com: LOGO Honors Meshach Taylor With Special “Designing Women” MarathonNewNowNext (July 2, 2014)
goodmantheatre.com: Goodman Theatre Remembers Meshach Taylor (July 1, 2014)
The New York Times: Meshach Taylor, an Actor on TV’s ‘Designing Women,’ Dies at 67 (June 30, 2014)
The Globe and Mail: Meshach Taylor’s career spanned Broadway to Buffalo Bill (June 30, 2014)
Boston.com: Remembering ‘Designing Women’ Star Meshach Taylor (June 30, 2014)
madamenoire.com: ANOTHER UNFORTUNATE LOSS: ACTOR MESHACH TAYLOR PASSES AWAY AT AGE AT 67
hngn.com: Meshach Taylor Dead at 67: ‘Mannequin’ Actor Dies in L.A. Home from Cancer (June 30, 2014)
The Washington Post: ‘Designing Women’ star Meshach Taylor dies (June 30, 2014)
theindychannel.com: ‘Designing Women,’ ‘Mannequin’ actor Meshach Taylor dies at 67 (June 30, 2014)
CNN.com: Meshach Taylor of ‘Designing Women’ dead at 67 (June 29, 2014)
wsoc.tv: Actor Meshach Taylor Dies at 67 (June 29, 2014)
Playbill.com: Emmy Winner and Broadway Actor Meshach Taylor Dies June 28 (June 29, 2014)
thewrap.com: Meshach Taylor Death: 5 Funny Moments From a Classic Scene Stealer (June 29, 2014)
theweek.com: Designing Women actor Meshach Taylor dies at 67 (June 29, 2014)
USAtoday.com: ‘Designing Women’ co-star Meshach Taylor dies (June 29, 2014) guardianlv.com: Actor Meshach Taylor Passes Away at Age 67 From Cancer
Rumorfix: Meshach Taylor Dies, 100-Year-Old Mom At Bedside (June 29, 2014)
NPR: ‘Designing Women’ Star Meshach Taylor Dies At 67 (June 29, 2014)
Huffingtonpost.com: Meshach Taylor Dead At 67, ‘Designing Women’ Star Dies After Battle With Cancer (June 29, 2014)
deadline.com: R.I.P. Meshach Taylor (June 29, 2014)
VARIETY: ‘Designing Women’ Star Meshach Taylor Dead at 67 (June 29, 2014)
FOX411: Meshach Taylor from ‘Designing Women’ dies at 67 (June 29, 2014)
latimes.com: Meshach Taylor dies at 67; actor known for ‘Designing Women’ role
Reports of Designing Women star Meshach Taylor’s Death are Premature
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
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
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)

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Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

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

3 comments on “Memorial Service to Celebrate ‘Designing Women’ Star Meshach Taylor at Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills

  1. itsashort
    July 4, 2014

    RIP and all the best to the family of this great artist. Lia, this is an amazing tribute, thank you!

  2. Ted Lange
    July 4, 2014

    A talented actor . A wonderful strong personality and driving theatrical force.

  3. Betty Fenner Davis
    July 15, 2014

    A beautiful tribute to a gracious loving man, whom I share their loss as a good friend of many years. Talented and funny, always with a smile was a blessing to know him. My prayers are with the family.

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