Friday, March 8, 2019

Rollo, Rated-X Raid, and Ripple: Remembering Actor Nathaniel Taylor of Sanford & Son Fame


I must note with the passing of Nathaniel Taylor, who played one of the characters of the 1970s show Sanford & Son (link embedded): Nathaniel Taylor, 'Sanford and Son' Actor, Is Dead at 80.

Taylor died about 10 days ago on Feb 27, 2019. I'm not going to repost the obituary, so just click on the link and read the AP story, as carried by the New York Times.


Taylor played Lamont's friend and sidekick-with-unspecified-rap sheet Rollo Lawson and was in what I consider to be some of the funniest Sanford & Son episodes.

Among these was one called "Rated X" in which he, Lamont, and Fred are arrested for participating in what they didn't realize was going to be a pornographic movie -- and one that is implied contains homosexuality. (Keep in mind this was in 1973.)



Above is the full episode on YouTube (unless it gets removed). The really funny part starts at 11:15 … The police raid is at 12:30 … The prison scene begins at 13:04 … And Aunt Ester shows up at 18:51.

I featured a video of the best part of this episode in this entry from Oct 2016.

Note: Just scroll past the part about Hurricane Matthew striking Florida and please ignore the part about how Hillary Clinton was in improving shape vis-à-vis Trump to the relevant part.


It's when Aunt Ester comes to the jail after Fred, Lamont, and Rollo have been arrested for (unknowingly) taking part in a (possibly gay) pornographic film -- the place is raided by the police moments after they discover the true nature of the film and are about to storm out.


Rollo was a great character on the show. Other hilarious episodes featuring him were "Lamont Goes African" and "The Party Crasher" (I wrote about the latter in this entry from May 2012) …



In "The Party Crasher" episode (featured directly above), Rollo and Lamont host a double-date at Rollo's tiny apartment. The two young, wild women are named Della and Angel.


The whole scene is a hilarious parody of early 1970s "blaxploitation" … and it reaches its climax when the girls are given some Beaujolais that they find disgusting and, well …


Della: THIS STUFF COULD GAG A MAGGOT! WHAT IS THIS?? FURNITURE POLISH?!?


When told what it was …

Angel: I'd rather have Ripple …

Della: YEAH! BRING ON DA RIPPLE!!

Rollo: "RIPPLE?? Hey, we ain't got no Ripple … "

Angel to Della: "HE AIN'T GOT NO RIPPLE!"

Della to Angel: "AIN'T THAT NOTHING!"

Angel: "AIIIINNN'T NO PAAAAHHHDEE WIT' NO RIPPLE!!"

At one point, Della declares, "YOU GOTS TO BE JIVIN'!!"

Of note, Angel was played by -- Angela Elayne Gibbs, now a director, producer, and teacher, not to mention the daughter of actress Marla Gibbs (best known as Florence on The Jeffersons).


It's called "The Party Crasher" because, of course, Fred shows up with onion soup and a bottle of Ripple and leaves Lamont and Rollo hanging as the girls take to him bigtime.


Taylor once explained in an interview that he had been working as an electrician when he was introduced to Redd Foxx, who in turn got him the part that would become Rollo. However, Taylor and Demond Wilson (Lamont) did not particularly get along -- and so he was only in 32 of the 136 episodes (plus the two short-lived spinoffs).

The obit notes:

Mr. Taylor was born on March 31, 1938, in St. Louis. In addition to his son Kaedi, he is survived by his wife, Loretta; four daughters; two sons; a brother; two sisters; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

OK, that's all for now. My next planned entries will be tomorrow (Saturday) night.

--Regulus

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