Meshach Taylor

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Meshach Taylor
Taylor in 2011
Born(1947-04-11)April 11, 1947
DiedJune 28, 2014(2014-06-28) (aged 67)
Years active1978–2014
(m. 1983)

Meshach Taylor (/ˈmʃæk/; April 11, 1947 – June 28, 2014) was an American actor,[1] widely known for his role as Anthony Bouvier on the CBS sitcom Designing Women (1986–93),[1] for which he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He was also known for his portrayal of Hollywood Montrose, a flamboyant window dresser in the 1987 film Mannequin and its 1991 sequel.[1] He played Sheldon Baylor on the CBS sitcom Dave's World (1993–97), appeared as Tony on the NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill opposite Dabney Coleman, and appeared as the recurring character Alastair Wright, the social studies teacher (and later school principal) on the Nickelodeon sitcom Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.

Early life[edit]

Taylor was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Hertha Mae (née Ward) and Joseph T. Taylor, former dean of students at Dillard University in New Orleans, who was also the first dean of arts and sciences at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.

After the family moved from New Orleans to Indianapolis, Taylor graduated from Crispus Attucks High School in 1964, where he took an interest in acting, and went on to study in the dramatic arts programs at Wilmington College (Ohio) and Florida A&M University. Leaving Florida A&M a few credits shy of graduation, he worked in Indianapolis 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.[2][3][4] In May 1993, he received his bachelor's degree in theatre arts from Florida A&M.[5]


Theater and teleplays[edit]

Taylor's first professional acting gig was in a national tour of Hair. He honed his craft in repertory theater as a member of Chicago's Goodman Theatre, and the Organic Theater Company alongside Joe Mantegna, André DeShields, Dennis Franz, Keith Szarabajka, Jack Wallace, and director Stuart Gordon. While in Chicago, he appeared in David Rabe's Streamers, Native Son (1979 Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination for Actor in a Principal Role in a Play), The Island and Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, for which he garnered the 1977 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actor in a Principal Role in a Play. He received an Emmy Award for his role as Jim in the WTTW production of Huckleberry Finn and hosted the Chicago television show Black Life. In 1998, Taylor made his Broadway debut as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, where he starred alongside Toni Braxton.[6] In September 2012, he appeared in Year of the Rabbit at Ensemble Studio Theater-LA as Vietnam veteran JC Bridges.[7]

Television and film[edit]

Taylor at the 1989 Emmy Awards

In 1977, Taylor moved to Los Angeles, where he crafted a gallery of memorable characters in film and on television, including his Emmy-nominated turn in the CBS sitcom Designing Women. Taylor played Anthony Bouvier, the deliveryman at the Sugarbaker interior design firm in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1989, he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.[1] In May 1981, the ninth season of M*A*S*H, he was seen as a corpsman in the final episode, "The Life You Save".[8]

From 1993 to 1997, he was a series regular as plastic surgeon Sheldon Baylor on Dave's World (CBS), and had a recurring role as Alastair Wright, the history teacher turned school principal, on Nickelodeon's sitcom, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide (2004–07) and Buffalo Bill on NBC with Dabney Coleman.[9]

Other appearances include: The Unit, Jessie, Hannah Montana as a fashion designer, All of Us as Neesee's father, The Drew Carey Show, Static Shock, Caroline in the City, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Women of the House, In the Heat of the Night, Punky Brewster, What's Happening Now!!, Hill Street Blues, ALF, Melba, The Golden Girls, Cagney & Lacey, Barney Miller, Lou Grant, The White Shadow, The Incredible Hulk, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, and Barnaby Jones.[9]

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 until the program was revamped as The Florence Henderson Show.[9]

Taylor had been friends with actor Joe Mantegna since they appeared together in 1969 in the musical Hair.[citation needed] Taylor guest-starred in 2012 on Criminal Minds' eighth season in the episode "The Fallen", opposite Mantegna as Harrison Scott, Rossi's former Marine sergeant with whom he served in Vietnam.[10] In January 2014, he reprised this role in "The Road Home" which aired January 22, 2014, just five months before his death.[11] Mantegna led a Criminal Minds tenth season episode "Anonymous", to honor Taylor on January 21, 2015.

Taylor appeared in such feature films as Mannequin, Mannequin Two: On the Move, and Damien: Omen II.[9]

Personal life and death[edit]

Taylor married actress Bianca Ferguson in 1983. He had four children, three with Bianca and one from a previous marriage. His children are daughters Tamar, Esme and Yasmine and son Tariq; he had four grandchildren.[2]

Taylor died of colorectal cancer on June 28, 2014, at his home in Altadena, California.[12][13][14] He is survived by his wife, his four children, his mother Hertha Ward Taylor,[15] two siblings, and four grandchildren.[12] A memorial service to celebrate his life was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) on July 6, 2014.[16]


Film and television roles
Year Title Role Notes
1978 Damien - Omen II Dr. J. Kayne
1978 Stony Island Aldeman's Yes-Man
1981 The Howling Shantz
1982 The Beast Within Deputy Herbert
1982 The Haircut Sam
1985 Explorers Gordon Miller
1985 Warning Sign Video Technician #2
1985 What's Happening Now!! Buddy Carlton Recurring role (season 1–2); 2 episodes
1985 The Golden Girls Police Officer
1986 One More Saturday Night Bill Neal
1986 Inside Out Freddy
1986–1993 Designing Women Anthony Bouvier Recurring role (season 1–2), main role (season 3–7); 152 episodes

Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1989)

1987 Mannequin Hollywood Montrose
1987 The Allnighter Hotel Detective Philip
1987 House of Games Mr. Dean
1988 Kid Safe: The Video Marty Short film
1990 Ultra Warrior Elijah
1991 Mannequin Two: On the Move Hollywood Montrose / Doorman
1992 Class Act Duncan's Dad
1992 In The Heat Of The Night Tyler Corbin
1993 Double, Double, Toil and Trouble Mr. N
1993–1997 Dave's World Shel Baylor Main role (97 episodes)
1997 The Right Connections Lionel Clark
1998 The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue Cecil Voice, direct-to-video
2000 Jacks or Better Ron
2000 Static Shock Doctor Harris Voice, episode: "Aftershock"
2001 Friends & Family Bruno
2004–2007 Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide Mr. Wright Recurring role (23 episodes)
2010 Wigger Charles Pruitt
2010 Tranced Cabbie
2011 Hyenas Crazy Briggs
2012 Jessie Grimm Haloran Episode: "The Whining"
2012–2014 Criminal Minds Harrison Scott 2 episodes; final role


  1. ^ a b c d "Meshach Taylor". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04.
  2. ^ a b Lindquist, David (June 30, 2014). "TV star and Attucks grad Meshach Taylor dies at 67". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  3. ^ "Meshach Taylor biography at". Designing Women Online. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  4. ^ Moore, Frazier (June 29, 2014). "'Designing Women' star Meshach Taylor dies at 67". Associated Press. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  5. ^ Scott, Carolyn Patricia (May 23, 1993). "Designing Women's Meshach Taylor Ends The Series As He Began -- With Dignity". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  6. ^ Internet Broadway Database
  7. ^ Perlmutter, Sharon (September 2012). "Year of the Rabbit".
  8. ^ Biodata,; accessed June 29, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d Meshach Taylor at IMDb
  10. ^ "The Fallen (Season 8, Episode 7)". November 14, 2012.
  11. ^ "The Road Home (Season 9, Episode 13)". January 22, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Colker, David (2014-06-29). "Meshach Taylor dies at 67; actor known for 'Designing Women' role". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-07-02.
  13. ^ Parker, Ryan (2014-06-29). "Meshach Taylor, screen and TV star, dies at 67". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  14. ^ Barnes, Mike (2014-06-28). "'Designing Women' Star Meshach Taylor Dies at 67". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  15. ^ Ryckaert, Vic (2014-06-15). "Hertha Ward Taylor - Longtime IPS teacher celebrates 100th birthday". The Indianapolis Star.
  16. ^ "Meshach Taylor Memorial". July 6, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2018.

External links[edit]