Nathaniel Taylor (actor)

Nathaniel Taylor (March 31, 1938 – February 27, 2019) was an American television and film actor best known for portraying Rollo Lawson on the 1970s sitcoms Sanford and Son, Grady and the 1980s sitcom Sanford.

Nathaniel Taylor
Born(1938-03-31)March 31, 1938
DiedFebruary 27, 2019(2019-02-27) (aged 80)
Resting placeRiverside National Cemetery
Years active1969–1986; 2016
Known forRollo Lawson (Sanford and Son, Grady, Sanford)
Spouse(s)Loretta Taylor (m. 2000–2019, his death)and his first wife, Bernice Gordon-Taylor

He was born in Missouri in 1938. He acted in several movies and TV shows and later created a performing arts studio. Some of the major shows where he acted are The Redd Foxx Show, Police Story and What's Happening!! . Taylor was in the films Trouble Man (1972) and Willie Dynamite (1974). He died in 2019 in Los Angeles.

Early lifeEdit

Taylor was born on March 31, 1938, in St. Louis, Missouri.[1][2] Growing up, he had two brothers (Richard and Eugene) and three sisters (Betty, Mary, and Rose).[3][4][5]


Before becoming an actor, Taylor was working as an electrician at the Performing Arts Society of Los Angeles (PASLA). His mentor, Larry Clark, suggested he try out for a part. Clark had him read a few lines to him and then sent him down to Redd Foxx's room. They had talked about their hometown, St. Louis. Foxx told Taylor that he had the role which would become Rollo Lawson.[6]

Taylor was best known for his recurring role as Rollo Lawson in the 1970s sitcom Sanford and Son, a role he later reprised on its short-lived 1980–1981 spin-off Sanford. He later played the first version of Jim-Jam with Redd Foxx on the 1986 series The Redd Foxx Show.[7] In the late 1970s, he played Rerun's (Fred Berry) brother–in–law, Ike, in the sitcom What's Happening!!.[3] Taylor also reprised the role of Rollo Lawson in the short–lived Grady. He was also guest starred in episodes of The Bill Cosby Show, Adam 12, and Police Story.[8]

Taylor also was featured in Trouble Man starring Robert Hooks as one of Mr. Big's henchmen.[9] The film featured a soundtrack by Marvin Gaye.[3] In 1973, he was in Clark's As Above, So Below. Taylor later became the Executive Director of Performing Arts Society of Los Angeles (PASLA).[10] He was in the blaxploitation film Willie Dynamite.[11] Taylor also starred in The Hunter.[9] In 2016, he was in the short film Auditioning for Nathaniel directed by Kevin Jerome Everson as himself.[12]

BlueLine Classics, LLC bought the iconic and original 1951 Ford F1 used in Sanford and Son. The owners, Jeff Canter and Tim Franko, loved the idea of restoring the Ford. After it was restored, in October 2015, they decided to reunite a cast member with the truck they preserved. Canter searched for Taylor on Facebook and could not find him. He did, however, find him the old-fashioned way and contacted him. Taylor called Canter and agreed to sign autographs with the restored Ford truck in October 2015.[13] In June 2016, Taylor was asked to sign autographs at the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park with the iconic 1951 Ford F1 'Sanford and Son Salvage' truck. He remembers in the season 4 episode, "Fred's Treasure Garden", where his character had marijuana referring to the "wild parsley" scene, which a lot of fans reminisce about.[6]

Personal life and deathEdit

Taylor was friends with fellow actor Rocco Karega and Hip-Hop promoter Alonzo Williams.[9][14] He was married to Loretta until his death. Together, Taylor and Loretta had two children. Taylor had five children from a previous marriage to Bernice Gordon-Taylor [3] After Taylor stopped acting, he opened a performing arts studio for young actors.[7][11] In April 1986, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested and booked Taylor on burglary charges along with his brother, James, and Pang Shing.[4][15] About $200,000.00 in computers and typewriters were seized. The arrest came within hours of the Sports Connection athletic club in West Los Angeles reported the theft of 10 IBM typewriters and a computer, police Lt. Howard Hughie said.[15][16]

On February 23, 2019, Taylor was rushed to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after suffering from a heart attack.[8] He died there from the complications of it on February 27, 2019.[5][17] Taylor is survived by his wife, seven children, six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, his brother (Eugene), and two sisters (Mary and Betty).[3][5]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1972 Trouble Man Leroy
Black Girl Supporting Players
1973 As Above, So Below Jita Hadi Drama film directed by Larry Clark [19][20]
1974 Willie Dynamite Sugar Blaxploitation film directed by Gilbert Moses [7]
1977 Passing Through Eddie Warmack Drama film directed by Larry Clark & co-written by Clark and Ted Lange [20]
1980 The Hunter Trotter Thriller film directd by Buzz Kulik [3]
2016 Auditioning for Nathaniel Himself Short film directed by Kevin Jerome Everson [12]


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1969 Listen to the Man Starring role
1971 The Bold Ones: The Senator Job Trainee Machinist
The Bill Cosby Show Bob Steffen
1972–77 Sanford and Son Rollo Lawson Recurring role (32 episodes) [7]
1973 Adam-12 Joe Episode: "Keeping Tabs" (S 5:Ep 23) [3]
1974 Harry O Bartender
  • Episode: "Eyewitness" (S 1:Ep 6)
  • Credited as Nathaniel 'Jitahadi' Taylor
1975 Police Story Thurman
  • Episode: "The Execution" (S 2:Ep 18)
  • Credited as Nathaniel 'Jitahadi' Taylor
Grady Rollo Lawson Episode: "Grady's Night In" (S 1:Ep 4) [22]
1977–1979 What's Happening!! Ike Episodes:
1980 Sanford Rollo Lawson Main Cast (season 1 only) [7]
1985 227 Man #3 Episode: "Football Widow" (S 1:Ep 10) [22]
1986 The Redd Foxx Show Jim-Jam Episodes:


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2011 Spirits of Rebellion: Black Film at UCLA Eddie Warmack
2016 American Masters Himself Episode: "Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You" [24]



  1. ^ Van de Riet, Emily (March 1, 2019). "Nathaniel Taylor, 'Rollo' of 'Sanford and Son,' dies at 80". KMOV. St. Louis: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  2. ^ Gifford, Storm (March 2, 2019). "Actor Nathaniel Taylor, who played Rollo Lawson on 'Sanford and Son,' dead at 80". New York Daily News. New York City: Tribune Publishing. Associated Press. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nyren, Erin (March 1, 2019). "Nathaniel Taylor, Rollo Lawson, on 'Sandford and Son' Dies at 80". Variety. Los Angeles: Variety Media, LLC. (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Jet Magazine Staff (May 12, 1986). "'Sandforf and Son' Co-Star Is Arrested On Burglary Charges". Jet. Chicago: Ebony Media Operations. p. 52. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Associated Press (March 2, 2019). "Nathaniel Taylor, Who Played Rollo on 'Sanford and Son' Dies". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Petkovic, John (June 16, 2019). "'Sanford and Son' truck and Rollo to reunite at Hard Rock Rocksino (photos)". Cleveland: Advance Publications. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Reed, Anika (March 2, 2019). "Nathaniel Taylor, best known as Rollo on 'Sanford and Son,' dies at 80". USA Today. McLean, Virginia: Gannett Corporation. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Evans, Greg (March 1, 2019). "Nathaniel Taylor Dies: 'Sandford and Son' sidekick Rollo was 80". Deadline Hollywood. United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Brooks, Hayden (March 1, 2019). "Nathaniel Taylor of 'Sandford and Son' Dead at 80". WKKR. Auburn, Alabama: iHeartMedia, Inc. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  10. ^ Isoardi 2006, p. 156.
  11. ^ a b Associated Press. "Nathaniel Taylor, Actor on 'Sanford and Son,' Dies at 80". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles: Billboard-Hollywood Media Group (Valence Media). Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Cronk, Jordan (April 6, 2017). "Kevin Jerome Everson". Bomb. New York City: New Arts Publications, Inc. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Anton, Jamie (October 15, 2015). "Salvaging a bit of TV history". The Post Newspapers. North Royalton, Ohio: Trogdon Publishing, Inc. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  14. ^ Karega 2010, p. 105.
  15. ^ a b Associated Press Staff (April 16, 1986). "Names In The News". Associated Press. New York City: Associated Press, inc. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  16. ^ Panama City News Herald Staff (April 17, 1986). "'Sandford and Son' Actor Arrested On Burglary Charges". Panama City News Herald. Panama City, Florida: GateHouse Media. Newspaperarchive. p. 83. Retrieved March 4, 2019.(Subscription required.)
  17. ^ Extra Staff (February 28, 2019). "Nathaniel Taylor of 'Sanford and Son' Dead at 80". Extra. Universal City, California: Telepictures. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  18. ^ Franklin, J.E. (1971). Black Girl: A Play in Two Acts. New York City: Dramatists Play Service, Inc. ISBN 978-0822201250.
  19. ^ Sergio (June 2, 2013). "L.A. Rebellion Chicago Screening Of 'As Above, So Below' w/ Filmmaker Larry Clark, Thursday 6/6". IndieWire. United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  20. ^ a b "Nathaniel Taylor". UCLA Film & Television Archive. Westwood, Los Angeles: UCLA. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  21. ^ Library of Congress 2018, p. 167.
  22. ^ a b c Evans, Greg (March 1, 2019). "Nathaniel Taylor Dies: 'Sanford And Son' Sidekick Rollo Was 80". Yahoo! News. Sunnyvale, California: Yahoo!. Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  23. ^ "Spirits of Rebellion: Black Film at UCLA (2011) | DREAM13 Media". Media Dream13. United States. Peace & Harmony Solutions, Inc. October 8, 2011. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  24. ^ "Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You". WNET. Arlington County, Virginia: PBS. July 6, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2019.


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