Taurean Blacque, Detective Neal Washington on ‘Hill Street Blues,’ Dies at 82

Taurean Blacque, beloved for his role of Detective Neal Washington on “Hill Street Blues,” has died. He was 82 years old.

Blacque died Thursday according to his son Rodney’s Facebook post. He died in Atlanta following a brief illness, according to reports.

For all seven seasons of the popular NBC cop show, Blacque starred alongside Michael Warren, Daniel J. Travanti, Charles Haid, Michael Conrad and Bruce Weitz in “Hill Street Blues.” The show ran from 1981-1987 and garnered Blacque an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series in 1982. In fact, the category that year was owned by “Hill Street Blues,” which saw all five nominees coming from the show created by Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll. The other four nominees were Warren, Haid, Conrad and Weitz.

Blacque’s character of Detective Neal Washington was a respected yet stern veteran cop known from his trademark toothpick and cap. Blacque was one of 10 of the show’s regulars who remained on the series for its entire run.

The actor was born Herbert Middleton Jr. in Newark, New Jersey, on May 10, 1940. He got his start in the mid-1970s at the New York-based Negro Ensemble Company, where he gained ground as a stage actor. Soon, Blacque landed guest roles on TV series such as “Sanford and Son,” “Good Times,” “What’s Happening,” “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Taxi.” He also played another cop in 1996 for two seasons of “Savannah.”

Blacque, who changed his name from his birth name due to his astrological sign (Taurus) and his race, continued his acting in television, including a stint from 1989-90 as Henry Marshall on the NBC soap opera “Generations.” Later becoming a long-time resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Blacque performed in several productions at the Alliance Theatre of Atlanta. Among his notable performances have been in the James Baldwin play “The Amen Corner” opposite Carol Mitchell-Leon, Elizabeth Omilami and Crystal Fox.

Blacque is survived by 12 children, many of whom he adopted, 18 grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.