September 20, 1917|
Buckingham County, Virginia, U.S.
May 30, 2011 (aged 93)|
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
|Occupation||Stage, television, film actress|
Born in Buckingham County, Virginia but raised in Harlem, New York, Taylor was best known for her recurring role on television on The Cosby Show as Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable's (Bill Cosby) mother, Anna Huxtable. She was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1986 for the role. She was also a regular on Nurse, played Harriet on Sesame Street, and appeared as Grady's cousin Emma on Sanford and Son.
Taylor started working in the theatre—with the American Negro Theatre—at a time when there were few opportunities for African-American actors and comedians. To support herself she followed in the footsteps of her father, Leon B. Taylor, Sr., and went to work for the U.S. Post Office. In the 1960s she got her big break that enabled her to act full-time. Taylor was one of the founding members of the Negro Ensemble Company, headquartered in New York's East Village on St. Mark's Place.
While working with the NEC she got her first offer of a movie role in Change of Mind (1969). Her next film role was as Minnie in Otto Preminger's Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970). In 1971 she played Birdie in Clint Eastwood's Play Misty For Me, and appeared as Mrs McKay in Such Good Friends the same year. In 1973, she brought a role she had pioneered off-Broadway to film, playing Gladys Brooks in Five on the Blackhand Side. Her later films included Nothing Lasts Forever (1984), Sommersby (1993), and Smoke (1995).
Taylor appeared in The Wiz as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North, Purlie the Broadway play as Idella Landy. Her most recent performance was in a touring production of her one-woman show, Moms, for which she won an Obie Award in 1987 for best performance by an actress. Her most recent film appearance was a small role in Wayne Wang's film Smoke.
- Change of Mind (1969) - Rose Landis
- Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970) - Minnie
- Play Misty For Me (1971) - Birdie
- Such Good Friends (1971) - Mrs. McKay
- Five on the Black Hand Side (1973) - Mrs. Brooks
- The Torture of Mothers (1980)
- Nothing Lasts Forever (1984) - Lu
- Sommersby (1993) - Esther
- Smoke (1995) - Grandma Ethel
- "Clarice Taylor of 'The Cosby Show' dies at 93". Boston.com. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
- "Cosby Show Actress Clarice Taylor Dies". People.com. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
- Hevesi, Dennis (June 2, 2011). "Clarice Taylor Dies at 93; TV's Cosby Called her Mom". The New York Times.