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Meshach Taylor, who played the lovable assistant Anthony Bouvier, who worked at the Sugarbaker interior design firm in the CBS hit sitcom Designing Women, has died, his agent Dede Binder confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 67.
Taylor, who immediately segued to another CBS comedy, Dave’s World, when Designing Women was canceled, died Saturday night at his family’s home in Altadena, where he was receiving hospice care. He “passed away after bravely fighting a terminal illness. His loving family was by his side,” Binder stated.
Earlier, his family posted a note on his Facebook page, saying, “It is with love and gratitude that we sorrowfully announce that our darling, amazingly brilliant and dynamic Meshach, the incredible father, husband, son and friend, has begun his grand transition.”
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Taylor also played flamboyant window dresser Hollywood Montrose in the 1987 box office hit Mannequin and its 1991 sequel.
Designing Women, created by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, aired on CBS for seven seasons from September 1986 until May 1993. It starred Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts, Jean Smart and Taylor, whose characters work at the design firm in Atlanta.
The series usually aired on Monday nights and, paired with Murphy Brown, another female-centric sitcom, gave CBS an hour of solid ratings.
Taylor’s Anthony, before he arrived at Sugarbaker Designs, was falsely convicted of a robbery. Toward the end of the series, he became a partner in the firm and earned a law degree. Taylor received an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy in 1989.
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“I miss that character,” he said in a 2001 interview. “I miss the situations he got himself into. I miss his vulnerability. That’s what’s so nice about playing that character — he really did care for these people so much he was very vulnerable because of his feelings, especially Suzanne (Burke) and the situations she would always involve him in.”
After Designing Women wrapped, Taylor quickly landed a gig on Dave’s World, a sitcom based on the life of the entertaining Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry. Taylor played plastic surgeon Sheldon Baylor, the neighbor and high school best friend of Barry (Harry Anderson), in the show that lasted four seasons.
Earlier, Taylor was a regular on the 1983-84 NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill, which starred Dabney Coleman as an egotistical daytime TV talk show host in Buffalo, N.Y. And later, he played Principal Alistar Wright on the Nickelodeon series Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.
He most recently appeared in a pair of episodes this year of CBS’ Criminal Minds.
The genial Taylor also hosted his own series on HGTV, The Urban Gardener; co-hosted a show on Retirement Living TV with Florence Henderson; and was a regular celebrity panelist on a reboot of the game show To Tell the Truth.
Taylor’s TV résumé also includes Lou Grant, M*A*S*H, Cagney & Lacey, The Golden Girls, Hill Street Blues, The Drew Carey Show and The Unit, and he reprised the role of Anthony in a 1995 episode of Bloodworth-Thomason’s Women of the House sitcom, also starring Burke.
Taylor also appeared in such other films as Damien: Omen II (1978), The Howling (1981) and Tranced (2010).
Taylor was born in Boston, raised in New Orleans and attended Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Fla. He joined the Organic Theatre group in Chicago, where he worked with Joe Mantegna and Dennis Franz, and also became a player with Chicago’s famed Goodman Theatre.
Smart, Burke, Gerald McRaney, Mantegna, Franz, Shadoe Stevens and Ernie Hudson were among those who gathered to celebrate Taylor’s 67th birthday at a party in April.
He married actress Bianca Ferguson (General Hospital) in 1983. Other survivors include children Tariq, Yasmine, Tamar and Esme.
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