Monday, July 7, 2014

Meshach Taylor R.I.P.

Meshach Taylor, who may have been most famous for his role on the TV show Designing Women, died on 28 June 2014 at the age of 67. The cause was colorectal cancer.

Meschach Taylor was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 11 April 1947. His family later moved to New Orleans, where he spent much of his childhood, and then to Indianapolis, He studied drama at Wilmington College in Ohio and then at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. He left Florida A&M without graduating, although he would complete his degree there in 1993. He worked as a reporter for radio station WIFE (now WTLC AM) in Indianapolis and hosted a community affairs programme on TV station WLWI (now WTHR), also in Indianapolis.

Meschach Taylor began his acting career with a national tour of Hair and then acted as a member of both the Goodman Theatre and the Organic Theatre Company in Chicago. He made his film debut in Damien: Omen II in 1978. He made his television debut the same year in an episode of Barnaby Jones. The rest of the Seventies he guest starred on such shows as The Incredible Hulk, The White Shadow, and Lou Grant. He appeared in the film Stony Island (1970).

In 1983 Meschach Taylor played the regular role of Tony on the short lived television series Buffalo Bill. He was part of the original cast of the series Designing Women, which debuted in 1986, playing the role of Anthony Bouvier. He remained with the show for its entire run, until it went off the air in 1993. In the Eighties he guest starred on such shows as M*A*S*H, Barney Miler, Cagney & Lacey, The Golden Girls, and Hill Street Blues. He appeared in the films The Howling (1981), The Haircut (1982), The Beast Within (1982), Explorers (1985), Warning Sign (1985), One More Saturday Night (1986), Inside Out (1986), Mannequin (1987), The Allnighter (1987), and House of Games (1987).

In the Nineties Mr. Taylor was a regular on the TV show Dave's World. He guest starred on such shows as In the Heat of the Night, Burke's Law, and Women of the House (where he reprised his role as Anthony Bouvier), and Caroline in the City. He appeared in the films Mannequin: On the Move (1991), Class Act (1992), and Jacks or Better (2000). In the Naughts he was a regular on the TV show Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. From the Naughts into the Teens he guest starred on such shows as The Drew Carey Show, All of Us, The Unit, Hannah Montana, Jessie, and Criminal Minds. He appeared in such films as Friends and Family (2001), Tranced (2010), Photo Finish (2011), He Knows My Heart (2012), and Silencio (2013).

If Anthony on Deigning Women remains a memorable character, it is perhaps because Meshach Taylor was a very talented actor. He was capable of creating three dimensional characters that were both unforgettable and lovable. Anthony on Designing Women, plastic surgeon Shel Baylor on Dave's World, and Hollywood in Mannequin were easily the most memorable characters in their respective TV shows and film. And while Mr Taylor was best known for his work in comedies, he was capable of playing in dramas as well. His last role was that of former Marine sergeant Harrison Scott in two episodes of Criminal Minds. He was quite convincing in the role. Meshach Taylor was a talented actor who died much too soon.

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