After an impressive start on the Broadway stage in the 1960s and 1970s, actress Holland Taylor made a mark for herself in film and on television as memorable spitfires who were often authoritative professionals possessing a brazen attitude and bawdy wit. Her big breakout came with just such a characterization on the historic TV favorite, "Bosom Buddies" (ABC, 1980-82). With her patrician air, dry quips and impeccable comic timing, Taylor brought a delightful old Hollywood sensibility to her best-known roles as a tabloid editor on "The Naked Truth" (ABC, 1995-96; NBC, 1996-98), an unpredictable judge on "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004), and an entertainingly awful mother in "Two and Half Men" (CBS, 2003-2015). The Emmy-winning actress only gathered more force with age, becoming a favorite choice for big and small screen projects that called for a "woman to be reckoned with."
Born on Jan. 14, 1943, in Philadelphia, PA, Holland grew up in a well-heeled and artistic family headed by her painter mother, Virginia, and her attorney father, C. Tracy. She attended private Quaker schools and went on to earn a bachelor's in drama from Bennington College in Vermont. Taylor was immersed in theater during college - by the time she graduated in 1964 and moved to New York with dreams of making it on Broadway, she had already compiled numerous regional productions on her resume. With her flair for both drama and comedy, as well as her striking red-haired looks, Taylor reached the Great White Way in a matter of months, debuting alongside Anne Bancroft in an adaptation of Aldous Huxley's "The Devils" (1965).
Taylor found further roles in off-Broadway plays like "The Poker Session" (1967), then began a long-running collaborative relationship with playwright A.R. Gurney with "The David Show" in 1968. On Broadway, she played the estranged wife of Alan Bates' "Butley," before landing television appearances as a tough cop on the daytime serial "Somerset" (NBC, 1970-76), then as an aristocratic Boston Brahmin in the short-lived drama "Beacon Hill" (CBS, 1975-76). The following year, she costarred alongside Nancy Marchand and Swoosie Kurtz in Gurney's OBIE-winning play "Children" (1976). The thirtysomething actress remained dedicated to exploring her craft, working with famed acting coach Stella Adler and studying dance with the Joffrey ballet. In 1978, she landed a recurring role on the soap opera "The Edge of Night" (CBS, 1956-1975; ABC, 1975-1984), but earned scant attention as compared to her follow-up television project.
On the sitcom "Bosom Buddies," Taylor made a splash as the colorful, brassy ad agency boss of young creative team, Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, who lead dual lives dressed in drag in order to stay in a dirt cheap women-only hotel. The show, which was ahead of its time both socially and comically, helped turn the hilariously charismatic Taylor into a recognizable face with memorable dry wit and an erudite flair. When the show was prematurely cancelled, Taylor made several appearances in television movies before her film career began gathering steam with memorable portrayals as Kathleen Turner's book publisher friend in "Romancing the Stone" (1984) and its sequel "The Jewel of the Nile" (1985). After a considerable absence from the stage, Taylor was tapped by Gurney for his well received plays "The Perfect Party," "The Cocktail Hour" - for which she won a Drama Desk Award - and the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "Love Letters." Taylor turned up in small supporting roles on the big screen in John Hughes' "She's Having a Baby" (1988) and Woody Allen's "Alice" (1990).
For Taylor's next television run, she was hilarious as the imperious and ambitious political wife of John Forsythe in Norman Lear's "The Powers That Be" (NBC, 1992-93). Her particular talent was less well used in a recurring stint as Dean Susan McCann on the Saturday morning sitcom, "Saved By the Bell: The New Class" (NBC, 1993-95). She was back in top form playing an overbearing, boisterous tabloid editor and reporter on the star-studded sitcom, "The Naked Truth" (ABC, 1995-96; NBC, 1996-98), which also starred the wonderfully daffy Tea Leoni. She returned to the big screen with flashy supporting roles in several big films, playing the mother of a murderously ambitious newscaster (Nicole Kidman) in "To Die For" (1995), as well as a bohemian adoptive mother in "Steal Big, Steal Little" (1995), and an actress in Henry Jaglom's ensemble "Last Summer in the Hamptons" (1995).
Taylor left her indelible imprint as memorable moms in "George of the Jungle" (1997) and "The Truman Show" (1997), while her filmmaker nephew, Brad Anderson, appropriately cast her as an urbane, matchmaking mother in the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, "Next Stop, Wonderland" (1998). Her solid run on the big screen was followed up with one of Taylor's biggest television successes, playing the unabashedly sexy, middle-aged judge Roberta Kittelson on David E. Kelley's legal drama, "The Practice." Originally tagged for a one-shot guest appearance, Taylor was so impressive that she was signed on for a recurring role. Her best, most multifaceted role to date allowed the actress to explore many sides of a strong woman in a position of authority, while also revealing her very real, human foibles. For her efforts, Taylor netted a Best Supporting Actress Emmy in 1999. She earned another Emmy nomination that same year for the period cable series "The Lot" (AMC, 1999-2001), in which she played Letitia DeVine, the often tipsy, Hedda Hopper-esque Old Hollywood gossip queen who set the stage for each episode.
In 2000, Taylor sparkled in another run of supporting film roles, first playing Marisa Tomei's unpredictable shrink in the Sundance-screened "Happy Accidents" (2000), before costarring opposite Ben Stiller as an elegant temple member who wants the young rabbi to date her daughter in "Keeping the Faith" (2002). Playing another of her signature career women, Taylor was seen as the skeptical Harvard professor of an aspiring and perky ditz (Reese Witherspoon) in the hit comedy "Legally Blonde" (2000). Taylor was then cast as the grandmother of a pair of pre-teen her s in Robert Rodriguez' family-adventure "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams" (2002), she reprised her role in the sequel "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" (2003). Taylor's recurring role on "The Practice" had ended the previous year, but she returned to the fall lineup in 2003 with a pitch-perfect role on the sitcom "Two and a Half Men" (CBS, 2003-15), playing Evelyn Harper, the critical, shallow, self-obsessed, Botox-loving mother of two brothers (Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer). The show was an instant hit with both audiences and critics, while Taylor took home her second Emmy in 2005 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Having perfected the blithely disapproving matriarch, Taylor nabbed another such role in the romantic comedy "The Wedding Date" (2005), starring Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney. Also that year, she augmented her continuous appearances on "Two and a Half Men" with a recurring role as a self-important billionaire on Showtime's "The L Word" (Showtime, 2004-09), as well as a pair of guest spots on "Monk" (USA, 2001-09). She continued to receive Emmy nods for "Two and a Half Men" in 2007 and 2008, when she also enjoyed a supporting role in the popular comedy "Baby Mama" (2008). After being left off the list in 2009, Taylor was again nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for "Two and a Half Men." Following an appearance in the Rob Schneider comedy "The Chosen One" (2010), Taylor began work on a one-woman play based on the life of former Texas Governor Ann Richards; the Off-Broadway play moved to Broadway in 2013.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made Broadway debut in "The Devils" opposite Anne Bancroft
Appeared in the Off-Broadway production of "The Poker Sessions"
Landed first collaboration with playwright A R Gurney, "The David Show"
Played wife to Alan Bates' "Butley" on Broadway
Made TV debut on the NBC daytime soap "Somerset"
Made prime-time TV series debut as regular on the short-lived CBS drama series "Beacon Hill"
Acted in Gurney's award-winning play "Children"
Made feature film debut, "The Next Man"
Returned to daytime drama as the villainous Denise Cavanaugh on "The Edge of Night" (ABC)
Played Ruth Dunbar, the flamboyant boss of Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, on the ABC sitcom "Bosom Buddies"
Starred as half of a radio talk show team in the stage comedy "Breakfast with Les and Bess"
Survived the Broadway bomb "Moose Murders"; replaced Eve Arden in the legendary flop one week before opening
Appeared as Kathleen Turner's publisher friend Gloria in "Romancing the Stone"; reprised role in 1985 sequel "The Jewel of the Nile"
Co-starred on the short-lived sitcom "Me and Mom" (ABC)
Returned to the stage in Gurney's "The Perfect Party"
Played Nurse Duckett on the ABC sitcom "Harry"
Co-starred as the daughter in a WASP family headed by Nancy Marchand in Gurney's play "The Cocktail Hour"
Appeared opposite Gurney in the first public performances of his "Love Letters"
Cast as series regular Dawn St. Clare, a lusty TV producer, in the comedy "Going Places" (ABC)
Played the tart-tongued wife of a US Senator (John Forsythe) in the NBC political sitcom "The Powers That Be"
Had recurring role of Susan McCann on the Saturday morning sitcom "Saved by the Bell: The College Years" (NBC)
Cast in small role in the feature "How to Make an American Quilt"
Cast as tabloid editor Camilla Dane on the sitcom "The Naked Truth" (ABC 1995-96; NBC 1996-98)
Appeared in the live-action comedy "George of the Jungle"
Acted in "Next Stop, Wonderland"; directed by nephew Brad Anderson
Played a recurring role of a judge on the ABC drama "The Practice"
Portrayed Truman's (Jim Carrey) Mother in "The Truman Show"
Cast as a gossip columnist on the AMC original series "The Lot"
Cast as Marisa Tomei's unpredictable shrink in Brad Anderson's "Happy Accidents"
Portrayed an elegant temple member in Edward Norton's feature directing debut, "Keeping the Faith"
Portrayed US First Lady Nancy Reagan in "The Day Reagan Was Shot" (Showtime)
Appeared as a tough Harvard law professor, opposite Reese Witherspoon, in the comedy "Legally Blonde"
Cast as Grandma in "Spy Kids 2: The Island Of Lost Dreams"
Again starred as Grandma in "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over"
Cast as the snobbish, overbearing mother of Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer in the CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men"
Had a recurring role as billionaire Peggy Peabody on Showtime's "The L Word"
Cast in the romantic comedy "The Wedding Date" starring Debra Messing
Featured in the comedy "Baby Mama" starring Tina Fey
Appeared in the Rob Schneider comedy "The Chosen One"
Starred as Texas governor Ann Richards in the Off-Broadway turned Broadway one-woman show "Ann"
Appeared as Abby in off-Broadway comedy "Ripcord"
Appeared as Mrs. Grant in the 2016 Broadway revival of "The Front Page"