Sources are confirming that comedian Taylor Negron has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 57. Chuck Negron, Taylor’s cousin, of the ’70s band Three Dog Night, released an online video with the sad news yesterday saying, “I want to inform you that my cousin Taylor Negron just passed away. His mother, his brother Alex and my brother Rene and his wife Julie were all there with him. May he rest in peace.”
Negron was born in Glendale, CA on August 1, 1957, the son of Lucy (née Rosario) and Conrad Negron, Sr., a former mayor of Indian Wells, CA. He studied with Lee Strasberg and even had a private comedy seminar with Lucille Ball. Negron interned for Ball when she was 68 years old and he was 19. Negron told KCET last May, “I learned from Lucy that you never get what you really want and you have to be flexible.” Further adding what he gained from her, “What I learned from her was what she learned from Buster Keaton – know your props, know what you’re doing, know where the exit is, know the entrances, know where the camera is. Get there early. Know everyone on the set. Do not pull any funny business. Be a professional.” Negron started stand-up when he was in high school, getting a spot at the Comedy Store and began cutting his teeth as an extra in movies. He made his full film acting debut in 1982’s soap satire Young Doctors in Love as a love-struck, pill-popping, dancing intern. He was also renowned for playing Mr. Pizza Guy in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Rodney Dangerfield’s son-in-law in Easy Money. Negron told KCET, “I became the alternative everyman in movies.”
He played the villain Milo in 1991’s The Last Boy Scout. Said Negron on the role in the same KCET interview, “It wasn’t a stretch, but it came as a surprise to me, because Bruce Willis, Tony Scott and Joel Silver had this idea in their head. So when they offered me the part, I thought it was a joke and they had made a mistake in the printing — that I was going to play the first goombah to the left. I realized very early on that Joel and dear, dear Tony Scott really cared about appearances, so with great detail they blonded my hair and gave me that asymmetrical ’60’s cut. It was like Hitler, only softer. I wore Dolce & Gabbana clothing and I looked so strange and otherworldly, and just by the sheer virtue of the fact that I had a gun in my hand, that did all the acting for me.”
It was hard not to spot Negron in any film as his credits were numerous in a melange of cult pics such as Punchline, One Crazy Summer, Angels in the Outfield, Nothing But Trouble, Stuart Little and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. He even reprised his role as the peeved Pizza Guy in Amy Heckerling’s 2012 film Vamps.
In TV, Negron started off with appearances as himself on 1970’s The Dating Game, and made a reputation as a hysterical guest star on 2001’s Hollywood Squares. On TV he also guest-starred frequently, playing both comedy and gravitas on a slew of hit series including Hill Street Blues, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Ben Stiller Show, Seinfeld, ER, Hope and Gloria, Party of Five, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Zoey 101 and The Wizards of Waverly Place.
Negron recurred in eight episodes of The Hughleys as Chuck Ballard. Close your eyes and think back and you’ll remember Negron as the prosaic E! spokesperson during their late 1980s interstitial when the channel first launched, exclaiming every single vowel pronunciation of “Eeee.” In 1995, he landed the role of arrogant, narcissistic TV station manager Gwillem Blatt on NBC’s sitcom Hope & Gloria. The show’s co-creator Cheri Steinkellner praised Negron to the L.A. Times saying, “He’s so hugely unique and funny, they totally broke the mold when they made him…He’s like no one on TV, unless he replicates himself–which I wouldn’t be surprised if he could.” Negron met Hope & Gloria creators Cheri and Bill Steinkellner in 1978 when they were partners in the Comedy Store Players.
For several years, Negron was a fixture in the Los Angeles comedy scene, appearing at Un-Cabaret (where he is considered one of the monologue’s shows original members), The Moth and Comedy Central Stage’s Sit-n-Spin among many other shows. He also performed in fellow comedians’ projects such as Melinda Hill’s web series Romantic Encounters. Negron won the best actor award for the series from LA webfest.
In 2008 Negron wrote The Unbearable Lightness of Being Taylor Negron – A Fusion of Story and Song directed by opera director David Schweitzer and co-starring singer/songwriter Logan Heftel, which debuted at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival. The show also played the 2009 Best of New York Solo Festival at the SoHo Playhouse and at the Barrow Street Theater.
Negron’s comedy essays have been published in the anthology Dirty Laundry (Phoenix Books) and Love West Hollywood: Reflections of Los Angeles (Alyson Books). Another one of Negron’s notable plays included Gangster Planet, a four character domestic comedy set during the 1992 L.A. riots, which was staged in 1993 and 2002. He directed theater as well.
In addition, painting was also a passion of Negron’s. He was on the board of LACMA and back in May had a solo exhibition of 17 pieces of work on display at the Laemmle Royal’s “Art in the Art House” series. Negron billed them “Snow Paintings” as he created them while he was stuck in his New York City apartment during last year’s harsh winter (the painting entitled “Snow Monica” is to the right). Negron described himself as bi-coastal, but at point during the ’90s said he split his time between L.A. and a 700-year-old house in the French countryside, where his neighbor was comedian pal Richard Belzer.
Outpouring began immediately across social media when the sad news hit. Transparent series creator Jill Soloway said on Facebook, “We lost our sweet, hilarious, kind Taylor Negron today. He is one of the most beautiful, brilliant souls I have ever encountered. His words and his art will be in my heart forever.”