Taurean Blacque, the actor best known for his Emmy-nominated performance as a detective on the critically acclaimed NBC drama series “Hill Street Blues,” died on Thursday in Atlanta. He was 82.
His family announced the death in an announcement. It didn’t specify a cause, saying only that he died after a transient illness.
Mr. Blacque, who began his profession as a stage actor in Latest York, had several television appearances under his belt when, in 1981, he landed his breakthrough role: the street-smart Detective Neal Washington on “Hill Street Blues,” which drew praise for its realistic portrayal of the day-to-day reality of police work and was nominated for 98 Emmy Awards in its seven seasons, winning 26.
The a part of Washington, Mr. Blacque later recalled, was sketchily written, and it was his alternative to play the character as quiet and reflective. “I believe the unique concept was that hip, jive Black man, you understand,” he told TV Guide. “But I desired to turn it around a bit of, give him some depth, not get into that stereotype.”
Mr. Blacque was nominated for a 1982 Primetime Emmy for best supporting actor in a drama series, but he lost to his fellow solid member Michael Conrad. (All of the nominees within the category that yr — the others were Charles Haid, Michael Warren and Bruce Weitz — were members of the “Hill Street Blues” solid.)
“Hill Street Blues” ended its run in 1987, and two years later Mr. Blacque starred with Vivica A. Fox and others on the NBC soap opera “Generations.” Probably probably the most racially diverse daytime drama of its era, “Generations” handled the connection through the years between two Chicago families, one white and one Black. Mr. Blacque played the owner of a series of ice cream parlors.
He later moved to Atlanta, where he was lively on the local theater scene, appearing in productions of August Wilson’s “Jitney,” James Baldwin’s “The Amen Corner” and other plays. He was also involved within the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Taurean Blacque was born Herbert Middleton Jr. on May 10, 1940, in Newark. His father was a dry cleaner, his mother a nurse.
He graduated from Arts High School in Newark but didn’t determine to pursue an acting profession until he was almost 30 and dealing as a mail carrier. He enrolled on the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Latest York in 1969 and, he told USA Today, “Once I discovered that acting was my area of interest, I poured all my energies into it.”
He said he selected the stage name Taurean Blacque (Taurus was his astrological sign) partly as a approach to get casting directors’ attention. Eventually, after several years of paying dues, he did.
Work in community theater in Latest York led to roles with the Negro Ensemble Company and eventually to Hollywood, where he landed guest roles on “Sanford and Son,” “Taxi,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Bob Newhart Show” and other TV series before being solid on “Hill Street Blues.”
Along with being an actor, Mr. Blacque, who had two biological sons and adopted 11 other children, was an adoption advocate. He was the spokesman for the Los Angeles County adoption service. In 1989, President George Bush appointed him the national spokesman for adoption.
Mr. Blacque’s survivors include 12 children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.