Holland Virginia Taylor (born January 14, 1943) is an American actress of film, stage, and television, and playwright. Her notable television roles include Ruth Dunbar in Bosom Buddies, senator's wife Margaret Powers on Norman Lear's The Powers That Be, Judge Roberta Kittleson on The Practice and Evelyn Harper in Two and a Half Men. She is also the author of the solo play Ann, based on the life and work of Ann Richards.
Taylor was born in 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Virginia (Davis), a painter, and C. Tracy Taylor, an attorney. She is the youngest of three girls in the family; her sisters are Patricia and Pamela, and through Patricia, she is the aunt of director Brad Anderson. Taylor attended high school at Westtown School, a Quaker boarding school in West Chester, Pennsylvania. She then majored in drama at Bennington College graduating in 1964, before moving to New York City to become an actress.
Taylor's long career began in the theatre. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s she appeared in numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, including starring roles in Simon Gray's Butley and A. R. Gurney's The Cocktail Hour; for the latter she was nominated for a Drama Desk award. Taylor also has the dubious distinction of having starred in Broadway's most infamous flop, Moose Murders, where she filled in, with less than a week's rehearsal, for veteran character actress Eve Arden who had jumped from the sinking ship.
In 1983 Taylor had one of her greatest theatrical moments in Breakfast with Les and Bess, which prompted the New York magazine theatre critic John Simon to sing, "...Miss Taylor is one of the few utterly graceful, attractive, elegant and technically accomplished actresses in our theatre...seeing her may turn you, like me, into a Taylor freak..."
Concentrating on theatre, television took a backseat but she did take on the role of Denise Cavanaugh on the long running soap opera, The Edge of Night, who was so evil, she killed herself just to frame her husband. Then encouraged by her acting coach, the legendary Stella Adler, Taylor took a role that would make her well known: Tom Hanks' sexy, demanding boss in the 1980s sitcom Bosom Buddies.
The actress' rising fame, built slowly over many years, led her to roles that made her a well known name in the industry. She proved herself to be equally adept both at comedy and at drama. In 1985, she co-starred with Lisa Eilbacher in the ABC detective series Me and Mom. Two years later, she played opposite Alan Arkin in the short-lived ABC sitcom Harry, in which she received "starring" billing. Then, in 1990, Taylor reunited with former Bosom Buddies executive producers Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett for a role on their ABC sitcom Going Places, playing grand dame television producer Dawn St. Claire for the show's first thirteen episodes. From 1992 to 1993, she starred in Norman Lear's The Powers That Be with John Forsythe and David Hyde Pierce, playing the wife of Forsythe's character, a U.S. senator. In early 1994, she joined the cast of Saved by the Bell: The College Years as Dean Susan McMann, just episodes before its cancellation. Following this was her role as high-powered newspaper editor Camilla Dane on the ABC/NBC sitcom The Naked Truth; Taylor was one of the few cast members to last all the way through the show's run, from 1995 to 1998.
She played the part of rapacious Judge Roberta Kittleson on The Practice. Originally intended to be a one-time appearance, the role lasted from 1998 to 2003. She won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in 1999; in her acceptance speech, she brought the house down when she lifted the Emmy over her head and said, "Overnight!" Taylor thanked David E. Kelley, The Practice's producer/writer and creator, for "giving me a chariot to ride up here on: A woman who puts a flag on the moon for women over 40â"who can think, who can work, who are successes, who can cook, and who can COOK!".
Taylor was also nominated for an Emmy for her recurring role on AMC's The Lot, and has been nominated four times since 2003, for Best Supporting Actress for her role on the TV series Two and a Half Men, playing Evelyn Harper, the snobbish, overbearing mother of Charlie Sheen's and Jon Cryer's characters. Taylor's television movie and series guest roles have been extensive and include appearances on ER, Veronica's Closet, and recurring roles on Ally McBeal; Monk and as billionaire Peggy Peabody on The L Word.
Taylor's movie roles have included Reese Witherspoon's character's tough Harvard law professor in the 2001 comedy Legally Blonde; Tina Fey's character's mother in Baby Mama; The Truman Show; Happy Accidents; Next Stop Wonderland; George of the Jungle; The Wedding Date; How to Make an American Quilt; Romancing the Stone; D.E.B.S.; Cop and a Half; and One Fine Day;
Taylor's animated roles include that of Prudence, the castle's majordomo and love interest of the Grand Duke, in Disney's Cinderella II and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. She also played a role in the animated show American Dad! as Francine's biological mother.
Taylor's first love remains the theatre and she began researching, writing and producing a one-woman play about the late Texas Governor Ann Richards in 2009. The two-act play, originally titled Money, Marbles, and Chalk, starring Taylor as Richards, was first workshopped in May 2010 at The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, Texas. It was later retitled Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards and opened in Chicago November 16, 2011 and was billed as a "pre-Broadway" engagement. It is scheduled to play at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. December 17, 2011 through January 15, 2012. Ann next opened on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on March 7th, 2013 and is scheduled to run until September 1st, 2013. For this role, Taylor was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play.
Taylor has been a long-time, major supporter of Aid For AIDS in Los Angeles, serving on their Honorary Board and as an ongoing participant in their largest annual fundraiser, Best In Drag Show, among other fundraising efforts.
Emmy Award nominations
Tony Award nominations
- The Devils, 1965/66
- Butley, 1972/73
- We Interrupt This Program..., 1975
- Murder Among Friends, 1975/76
- Something Old, Something New, 1977
- Moose Murders, 1983
- Ann, 2013
- The Poker Session, 1967
- The David Show, 1968
- Tonight in Living Color, 1969
- Colette, 1970
- Fashion, 1974
- Children, 1976
- Drinks Before Dinner, 1979
- Breakfast with Les and Bess, 1982/83
- The Perfect Party, 1986
- The Cocktail Hour, 1988/89
- Love Letters, 1989
- The Vagina Monologues, 1999
- Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards, 2011
- The Philanthropist, 1971
- Passion Play, 1988
- Kindertransport, 1996
- A Delicate Balance
- Black Comedy
- The Unexpected Man in The Geffen Playhouse, 2001
- Kindertransport in The Tiffany Theatre
- Narrator â" LA Philharmonic "Persephone, Stravinsky, Essa-Pekka Salonen, Conductor"
- Narrator â" LA Philharmonic "Ahknaten, Philip Glass, John Adams, Conductor"
- Holland Taylor at the Internet Movie Database
- Holland Taylor at the Internet Broadway Database
- Holland Taylor at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Holland Taylor on Twitter
- Holland Taylor Bio at CBS - Two and a Half Men