Nathaniel Taylor, the actor best known for playing smooth-talking sidekick Rollo Lawson on 1970s sitcom Sanford and Son, died Feb. 27 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after suffering a heart attack. He was 80.
His death was announced on social media by his friend, the music promoter Alonzo Williams. According to Williams, the actor was hospitalized on Feb. 23 after suffering a heart attack.
Although Taylor had a few small guest roles on television in the early ’70s – credited as Jita Hadi on The Bold Ones and The Bill Cosby Show – it was his recurring role on the 1972-77 Sanford and Son that brought lasting fame among the show’s still-considerable fan base. His Rollo, a streetwise character typically dressed in the snazziest of hip clothes, was the best friend of Demond Wilson’s Lamont Sanford and forever the target of often-justified scorn and mistrust of Redd Foxx’s Fred Sanford.
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A typical exchange between Lamont and Rollo had Lamont asking why Rollo hadn’t picked up their booze as planned. “The store’s still open,” replied Rollo.
Taylor briefly reprised the role in the spinoffs Grady and Sanford.
Other TV credits in the ’70s and ’80s include appearances What’s Happening!!, 227, The Redd Foxx Show, Adam-12 and Police Story. Film credits include Willie Dynamite (1974) and 1972’s Black Girl, directed by Ossie Davis.
Survivors include wife Loretta, four daughters and two sons. Services are pending.
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