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

Taurean Blacque, who portrayed the streetwise Det. Neal Washington on all seven seasons of the acclaimed NBC cop show Hill Street Blues, died Thursday in Atlanta following a brief illness, his family announced. He was 82.

From 1989-90, Blacque played Henry Marshall opposite Viveca A. Fox and others as an original castmember on the NBC daytime soap opera Generations, the first serial to include — from the start — a Black family as part of the main storyline. His character owned ice cream parlors in Chicago.

In 1982, Blacque received a supporting actor Emmy nomination for his work as the toothpick-dependent Washington on Hill Street but lost out to co-star Michael Conrad. Amazingly, the other three nominees — Charles Haid, Michael Warren and Bruce Weitz — also came from the 1981-87 series, created by Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll.

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He played another cop, Det. Michael Wheeler, for two seasons on the 1996-97 WB drama Savannah.

Taurean Blacque as De. Neal Washington on ‘Hill Street Blues’

NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

Born Herbert Middleton Jr. in Newark, New Jersey, on May 10, 1940, Blacque got his start in the mid-1970s at New York’s Negro Ensemble Company, acting in such plays as Orrin and Welcome to Black River. In 1976, he appeared for Joseph Papp in So Nice, They Named it Twice.

Also in 1976, he made his onscreen debut on an episode of What’s Happening!!, followed by guest shots on Sanford and Son, The Tony Randall Show, Charlie’s Angels, The Bob Newhart Show, Good Times, Taxi and Dream On.

His big-screen résumé included House Calls (1978), Rocky II (1979) and the animated Oliver & Company (1988).

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Regarding his stage name, he told Playboy magazine: “My heritage is black — spelled Q-U-E — and I’m a Taurus. I decided I needed a name change I could relate to. It looks good on a marquee and never fails to get attention in casting offices.”

Blacque, who had two biological sons and 11 other adopted children — five from one addicted mother — was asked by President George H.W. Bush to serve as a national spokesperson for adoption in 1989. He also was a spokesperson for adoption services in Los Angeles County.

He was active in the Atlanta Black Theater Company and North Carolina’s Black Theater Festival.

Survivors include 12 children, 18 grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

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