Actor Meshach Taylor, best known for his role as the ex-con deliveryman Anthony Bouvier in the CBS sitcom Designing Women, died Saturday at his home in Altadena. He was 67.
The cause of his death was colorectal cancer, said his wife, Bianca Ferguson Taylor.
Taylor had roles in several TV shows before appearing in what was supposed to be a single episode of Designing Women during its first season in 1986. But his comic scenes with cast members Delta Burke and Dixie Carter went so well, Taylor said in 2011 on The Wendy Williams Show, that the creators of the sitcom kept him on.
He stayed with the show for all seven of its seasons as the only male regular cast member. He was nominated in 1989 for an Emmy for supporting actor in a comedy series.
Taylor also played the flamboyant window dresser Hollywood Montrose in the 1987 hit Mannequin.
He was “an activist actor,” said his wife, who as Bianca Ferguson appeared for years as Claudia Johnston Phillips on the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital.
On Designing Women, he “walked that tightrope of racism and classism every week, week after week,” giving them and millions of viewers a richer, deeper view of African American men. “He showed them what trust was all about, what loyalty and friendship were all about.”
“His last really strong role,” she said, was on Criminal Minds, where he “took an alcoholic veteran from the Vietnam era and made us understand he was a courageous young man who had saved lives.”
Meshach Taylor was born April 11, 1947, in Boston, and grew up in New Orleans and Indianapolis, where he performed with community theater groups.
His first major role was in a national touring company of “Hair.” In the 1970s he appeared in plays with the Goodman Theatre company in Chicago.
Taylor had roles in numerous other movies and TV shows, including Dave’s World, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide and Dave’s World. On Broadway in 1990, he performed for six months in “Beauty and the Beast.”
In addition to Bianca, his wife of over 30 years, Taylor’s survivors include his daughters Yasmine, Tamar and Esme; his son, Tariq; a sister, Judy; and a brother, Hussein.
Terminally ill and deep in pain, he flew with his children to Indiana last week for the 100th birthday of his mother, Hertha Taylor.
When he returned to hospice care in California, his wife said: “I told him baby, you did your greatest performance at your weakest time.”
*Article originally published on We Love Soaps.