I met Taylor Negron in 2012, after being a fan for many years. "Who?" you may ask. Well, I'll tell you.
He's that guy. You know, that guy. He's been in everything. He was the pizza delivery guy who brought a pie to Sean Penn's classroom, much to the chagrin of irate teacher Ray Walston in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He played Rodney Dangerfield's slimy son-in-law in Easy Money. He appeared as "David Montagne," the uptight, prissy guardian of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the Disney remake of Angels in the Outfield. He took a turn as the villain Milo in the action flick The Last Boy Scout. On television, he had roles in ER, Friends, Seinfeld (as Elaine's hairdresser), and a bunch of other shows you never heard of. Taylor was a regular in the short-lived series Detective School and the post-Full House Olsen Twins series So Little Time. (Yeah, me neither.)
Taylor was a playwright and a painter, as well as a stand-up comedian. That's where I first took notice of his talent. I used to regularly patronize a comedy club in Philadelphia, where I saw numerous up-and-coming comics. Some went on to "bigger and better" (Eddie Murphy, Richard Jeni, Jackie Martling) and some never got further than that little Philadelphia stage. One evening, I happened to be at a restaurant on the same street as the comedy club, although I did not attend that evening's show. I was leaving dinner as the comedy show was also letting out and I recognized Taylor Negron crossing the street. I hollered, "Hey! Taylor!" He looked up at me and waved, then continued on his way. I really didn't expect him to do much more than that.
Years later, I attended another in a long line of collector shows that I have been known to frequent. Although this show had a monster/horror theme, Taylor Negron was making an appearance, despite the lack of horror-related films on his long resume. I entered the big conference room and scanned the different tables and displays for a sign of Taylor. He was in a far corner between William Forsythe (another actor with a character resume as long as your arm) and one of the guys who played the adult "Jason Voorhees" in a double-digit Friday the 13th sequel (sitting behind a table covered with glossy photos of someone in a hockey mask; for all anyone knew, they could've been pictures of Bernie Parent). Unlike the other "celebrities," Taylor was not sequestered behind a table, cordoned off from the public. He was out in front, mingling, joking and laughing with the conventioneers. I waited patiently for his autograph, getting in line behind a guy with whom Taylor was enjoying a lively banter. Because of my close proximity, I couldn't help but overhear their conversation. I heard Taylor make a reference to actor Steve McQueen, to which I rudely interjected, "I don't know how to break this to you, but Steve McQueen is dead." Taylor looked right at me, a solemn, mournful expression on his face.
"I know." he said, "He died in my arms." He paused. Then, he grinned. Then, he burst out laughing.
When my turn came to speak one-on-one with Taylor, I related the story of calling to him across the street all those years ago. He laughed and said he remembered (he didn't) and explained that he had told me "go fuck yourself," but I guess I didn't hear him. He laughed again and threw a friendly arm around my shoulders. He graciously posed for a photo with me and signed an 8 x 10 from Easy Money, inscribing the shot "Can I call you Dad?," a reference to his character in the film.
I spent less than ten minutes with Taylor Negron. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Based on his body of work, he seemed like a reliable guy and dedicated to his career. And really funny.
Taylor passed away January 10 at the all-too-young age of 57. I'm glad I got to meet him.