He was the lone male among an ensemble of women in the hugely successful 80’s sitcom Designing Women and now actor Meshach Taylor has passed away at the age of 67 after a reportedly long battle with cancer. Taylor died peacefully in his home in Altadena, California surrounded by family late Saturday night.
Meshach Taylor had fought terminal cancer for some time and had been under hospice care before being transported home in his final hours. According to earlier reports posted by his family via social media, the actor’s health had slowly been starting to decline and postings early Saturday suggested his death was appearing imminent.
The actor became a fixture in homes for eight seasons from 1986 through 1993 as the assistant “Anthony Bovier” in the popular CBS series Designing Women about the lives of a group of southern women in an Atlanta interior design company. Taylor would secure an Emmy nomination for his work in the show. The series took a while to find an audience and was on the verge of cancellation until an aggressive campaign by the small but loyal mostly female followers of the show convinced network executives to give the show a chance.
Designing Women would go on to sustain a respectable position in the top 30 among television ratings. Designing Women would make Taylor a beloved household name along with this co-stars in the program Delta Burke, Annie Potts, Dixie Carter, and Jean Smart. Following his turn in Designing Women, Taylor would land another series regular role as Dr. Sheldon Baylor in the CBS sitcom Dave’s World from 1993 to 1997. Throughout his career, Meshach Taylor would work consistently guest-starring in television shows like Criminal Minds, The Unit, The Drew Carey Show, and Caroline in the City among others.
A native of Boston, Meshach Taylor was considered a precocious child who would find himself being bullied and beat up by other kids. In early interviews, the actor said as the child of former college educators, neighborhood kids would tease him and call him “The Professor.” As a defense mechanism, the young Meshach Taylor would dumb himself down to avoid harassment from the other kids.
Meshach Taylor would develop his craft as an actor at Chicago’s famed Goodman Theatre where he was a member of their repertory company. After years of working in the windy city, Taylor would venture off to Hollywood to embark on a career in film and television. Along with finding fame and fortune for his work on Designing Women, Taylor would also create memorable characters including the role of the flamboyant “Hollywood Montrose” alongside Kim Cattrall and Andrew McCarthy in the 1987 romantic comedy Mannequin. Taylor would find himself going back to his theatre roots making his Broadway debut in the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast in the role of the candelabra “Lumiere.” Even with all of his many busy years on stage and screen, Meshach Taylor found the time to go back to school and complete his degree at Florida A&M University in 1993. Meshach Taylor is survived by his wife, four children, and four grandchildren.
By Hal Banfield