Taurean Blacque, best known for his role as Det. Neal Washington on Hill Street Blues, has died at age 82.
His family announced his death in a statement, via the AP, in which they said he died from a brief illness.
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Born Herbert Middleton, Jr. in Newark, N.J. on May 10, 1940, Blacque went on to change his name as a reflection of his zodiac sign, Taurus, and his race. After training at New York's New Federal Theater, the actor guest starred on several hit '70s TV shows, including The Bob Newhart Show, Sanford and Son, Charlie's Angels, and Taxi. In 1979 he appeared as a lawyer in Rocky II.
Blacque got his breakthrough role in 1981 with the groundbreaking police drama Hill Street Blues, co-created by Steven Bochco. Notable for its large, multi-racial cast and complex and gritty storylines, Hill Street Blues would influence television for decades to come. Blacque played streetwise Det. Neal Washington for 144 episodes during the show's entire run.
In its debut season, Hill Street Blues was nominated for 21 Emmys, winning a then-record eight. The following year, Blacque was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama, a category that the procedural exclusively dominated, thus he lost to his co-star Michael Conrad.
After the acclaimed series ended in 1987, Washington continued to work sporadically on TV, often playing policemen, but mostly on stage, particularly in Atlanta. His most significant post-Hill Street TV role was probably on the interracial soap opera Generations, on which he was featured from 1989 to 91.
A staunch advocate for adoption, Blacque had two biological sons and adopted 11 children, becoming the spokesman for the county of Los Angeles Adoption Service. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush asked Blacque to be the national spokesman for adoption.
Blacque is survived by 12 children, 18 grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.