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Designing Women star Meshach Taylor dies at 67

Meshach Taylor, who played a lovable ex-convict surrounded by boisterous Southern belles on the sitcom "Designing Women" and appeared in numerous other TV and film roles, died of cancer at age 67, his agent said Sunday.

Taylor died Saturday at his home near Los Angeles, according to agent Dede Binder.

Taylor got an Emmy nod for his portrayal of Anthony Bouvier on "Designing Women" from 1986 to 1993. Then he costarred for four seasons on another successful comedy, "Dave's World," as the best friend of a newspaper humor columnist played by the series' star, Harry Anderson.

Other series included the cult favorite "Buffalo Bill" and the popular Nickelodeon comedy "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide."

Taylor's movie roles included a flamboyant window dresser in the 1987 comedy-romance "Mannequin" as well as "Damien: Omen II."

He guested on many series including "Hannah Montana," ''The Unit," ''Hill Street Blues," ''Barney Miller," ''Lou Grant," ''The Drew Carey Show," and, in an episode that aired in January, "Criminal Minds," which stars Joe Mantegna, with whom Taylor performed early in his career as a fellow member of Chicago's Organic Theater Company. Taylor also had been a member of that city's Goodman Theatre.

The Boston-born Taylor started acting in community shows in New Orleans, where his father was dean of students at Dillard University. He continued doing roles in Indianapolis after his father moved to Indiana University as dean of the college of arts and sciences.

After college, Taylor got a job at an Indianapolis radio station, where he rose from a "flunky job" to Statehouse reporter, he recalled in an interview with The Associated Press in 1989.

"It was interesting for a while," he said. "But once you get involved in Indiana politics you see what a yawn it is."

Resuming his acting pursuit, he set up a black arts theater to keep kids off the street, then joined the national touring company of "Hair." His acting career was launched.

After "Hair," he became a part of the burgeoning theater world in Chicago, where he stayed until 1979 before heading for Los Angeles.

Taylor played the assistant director in "Buffalo Bill," the short-lived NBC sitcom about an arrogant and self-centered talk show host played by Dabney Coleman. It lasted just one season, 1983-84, disappointing its small but fervent following.

Seemingly his gig on "Designing Women" could have been even more short-lived. It was initially a one-shot.

"It was for the Thanksgiving show, about halfway through the first season," Taylor said. But producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason told him if the character clicked with audiences he could stay.

It did. He spun comic gold with co-stars Jean Smart, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts and Delta Burke, and never left.

Meanwhile, his real life worked its way into one episode.

"We were doing some promotional work in Lubbock, Texas, and somehow Delta Burke and I got booked into the same hotel suite," he said. They alerted their respective significant others to the mix-up, then muddled through with the shared accommodations.

"When we got back I told Linda, and she put it into a show: We got stranded at a motel during a blizzard and ended up in the same bed!"

Taylor is survived by his four children and his wife, Bianca Ferguson.

Join the discussion

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eaglephoenix2 June 30 2014 at 9:43 AM

A very likeable character. Too bad we didn't see more of him, but the quality of being remembered fondly with the not so large body of work shows he had some pretty good charisma going there. RIP

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bbh907 June 30 2014 at 7:40 AM

RIP Meschach.I absolutely loved Anthony and any reference to his "unfortunate incarceration"! Condolences to his family.

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brennemanbelkin June 30 2014 at 9:39 AM

Really enjoyed this mans work.
RIP Mr. Taylor.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
johnm421 June 30 2014 at 8:11 AM

I'm so very sorry for this sad loss. RIP...he was excellent in "Designing Women" and the "Hand that Rocks the Cradle". I had just watched him in a repeat episode of "Criminal Minds". Condolences to his family.

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1 reply
Jeri-Anne johnm421 June 30 2014 at 10:15 AM

Great and funny guy, but Ernie Hudson was the handyman in Hand that Rocks the Cradle.

RIP, Meshach, cancer sucks.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
LYNN FIORELLI June 30 2014 at 8:22 AM

I loved Meshach in Designing Women. He was so funny, but tender and a wonderful actor. I imagine he was the perfect husband, father and friend. R.I.P

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Dianne & Ken June 30 2014 at 8:30 AM

I'll always remember him as "Hollywood" loved him in that part.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 June 30 2014 at 9:50 AM

I am so sorry Brother, yes, I kinds like this fellow, and hope and pray for you and your family. RIP

Flag Reply +4 rate up
VMP3080 June 30 2014 at 7:53 AM

OMG... Young!! R.I.P., so loved ;`-(

Flag Reply +3 rate up
mjones6302 June 30 2014 at 10:21 AM

Mr. Taylor was a wonderful and versatile actor. Loved him in Designing Women. RIP.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
kittenblu June 30 2014 at 10:12 AM

Aw..I really liked this guy...so sad to hear of his passing.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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