Taurean Blacque, 'Hill Street Blues' Emmy-Winning Actor, Dead at 82

Taurean Blacque, the Emmy-winning actor who starred in NBC's Hill Street Blues and Generations, has died. Blacque passed away Thursday, July 21 at 2:52 a.m., according to a Facebook post shared by his son Rodney. The beloved actor passed away in Atlanta following a brief illness, his family confirmed to Deadline. He was 82.

Born Herbert Middleton Jr. in Newark, New Jersey in 1940, Blacque got his start in acting at New York's Negro Ensemble Company, where he began as a stage actor in plays such as Orrin, Welcome to Black River. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he also performed Off-Broadway in So Nice, They Named it Twice. He went on to make his onscreen debut in a 1976 episode of What's Happening!!, soon landing guest roles on such TV series including Sanford and Son, Good Times, The Bob Newhart Show, and Taxi. He also starred as Detective Michael Wheeler on WB's drama Savannah, which was only on air for two seasons in 1996 and 1997. His film credits include Rocky II, House Calls, and the animated Oliver & Company.

Blacque, however, is best known for his portrayal of the streetwise, no-nonsense, respected veteran Detective Neal Washington on Hill Street Blues, the hit NBC series the actor starred in all seven seasons of. He first joined the cast in 1981, Blacque earning an Emmy nomination the following year for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series. The series, created by Steven Bochco-Michael Kozoll, concluded in 1987 and also starred Michael Warren, Daniel J. Travanti, Charles Haid, Michael Conrad, and Bruce Weitz. Following his time on Hill Street Blues, Blacque went on to star opposite Vivica A. Fox on the NBC daytime soap opera Generations. The series marked the first show to include a Black family in the main storyline from its inception.

News of Blacque's passing was met with an outpouring of tributes online from both fans and other entertainers. In a tweet, Judd Apatow called Blacque "one of my all time favorites." One fan wrote, "Oh man, JUST going through Hill Street Blues now; his Dt. Neal Washington's near-series length support of s-bird partner JD LaRue (the late Kiel Martin) a major stabilizing force on the Hill. In real life, was a major advocate and spokesman for adoption."

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In addition to his involvement in the Atlanta Black Theater Company and North Carolina's Black Theater Festival, in 1989, Blacque was asked by President George H.W. Bush to serve as a national spokesperson for adoption. He was also a spokesperson for adoption services in Los Angeles County. Blacque is survived by 12 children, 18 grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.