Taurean Blacque, Hill Street Blues Actor, Dies at 82

Taurean Blacque, known for playing streetwise Detective Neal Washington on the critically acclaimed cop show Hill Street Blues, died on Thursday in Atlanta following a brief illness. He was 82. Blacque starred alongside Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, Charles Haid, Bruce Weitz, Barbara Bosson and Veronica Hamel on the NBC show for all seven seasons. From 1989 to 1999, he played family patriarch Henry Marshall on the NBC daytime soap opera Generations and starring alongside Vivica A. Fox, Kristoff St. John, and Richard Roundtree (Shaft).

In 1982, the actor received a supporting actor Emmy nomination for his work as Detective Washington on Hill Street but lost out to co-star Michael Conrad. The show was so popular for its top-notch acting and drama plots that Charles Haid and Bruce Weitz (won) were also Emmy nominees. Hill Street Blues ran from January 15, 1981, to May 12, 1987, and chronicled the lives of the staff of a single police station located on Hill Street in an unnamed large city. In its debut season, the series won eight and total of 26 Emmy Awards (out of 98 Emmy Award nominations) during its run, including four consecutive wins for Outstanding Drama Series.

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Taurean Blacque Was a Class Act on and Off the Screen

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Born Herbert Middleton Jr. in Newark, NY, Blacque began acting in the mid-‘70s with the New York Negro Ensemble Company, acting in plays such as Orrin and Welcome to the Black River. He made the jump to television in 1976, making his debut on an episode of What’s Happening!!, followed by appearances on Sanford and Son, The Tony Randall Show, Charlie’s Angels, The Bob Newhart Show, Good Times, Taxi and Dream On. Blacque’s film credits include House Calls (1978), Rocky II (1979) and the animated Oliver & Company (1988).

The actor once explained his stage name to Playboy magazine:

“My heritage is black — spelled Q-U-E — and I’m a Taurus. I decided I needed a name change I could relate to. It looks good on a marquee and never fails to get attention in casting offices.”

A father of two biological sons, Blacque was also a promoter for adoptions, having adopted 11 children – five from one addicted mother. President George H.W. Bush asked the actor to serve as a national spokesperson for adoption in 1989, and he also served as a spokesperson for adoption services in Los Angeles County. He was active in the Atlanta Black Theater Company and North Carolina’s Black Theater Festive. Taurean Blacque is survived by 12 children, 18 grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. Rest in peace.