Taylor Negron Came to One of My Shows

Yes, it’s true! Actor, writer and comedian Taylor Negron (Brad Stephen Negron, 1957-2015) came to one my shows. It was Dick Zigun’s Dead End Dummy at Coney Island, USA, in October, 2014. He attended at the invitation of cast member Bree Benton, who knew him as a family friend. We didn’t know it at the time, though he probably had a pretty good idea, but he only had a couple of months left to live. (He’d had liver cancer since 2008). He came up and talked to us after the show. He wasn’t just polite and generous but deeply interested in the venue itself (the sideshow), and after all, who wouldn’t be? At any rate, I was so shocked when he died right after seeing our show. I was like, “Did we kill him???”

Though his name was not a household word, Negron’s was SUCH recognizable face — seeing him in person, your eyes zeroed in on him like headlights on high beam. His look was completely unique yet he was also very castable. He had the good looks of a male model, and tended to wear slightly foppish, fashionable haircuts. He was kind of like a parody of a male model. In repose his face looked slightly pouty. Yet it was all just slightly “off” enough to suit him for comedy, and that was his main bailiwick.

Negron was the younger cousin of the lead singer of Three Dog Night. His father was the Mayor of Indian Wells, CA (near Palm Springs), although he grew up mostly in La Cañada, on the outskirts of Greater Los Angeles. Both of his parents were Puerto Rican. Negron started out performing stand-up as a teenager at the Comedy Store. As a young person he studied with Lee Strasberg and Lucille Ball. He began getting film and TV work in 1979.

Throughout his career, Negron’s roles ranged from extra work, to bit parts (usually memorable ones) to good-sized supporting parts. One of his first roles was a regular part on the ABC TV series Detective School, third-billed behind James Gregory (of Barney Miller) and Randolph Mantooth (of Emergency) and just ahead of LaWanda Page (of Sanford and Son) and Pat Proft. His films included The Gong Show Movie (1980), Young Doctors in Love (1982), Fast Times at Ridgement High (1982), Easy Money (1983, with Rodney Dangerfield), Johnny Dangerously (1984), Better Off Dead…(1985), River’s Edge (1986), Punchline (1988), Dan Aykroyd’s Nothing But Trouble (1991), The Last Boy Scout (1991), Angels in the Outfield (1994), Pauly Shore’s Bio-Dome (1995), Leslie Nielsen’s Spy Hard (1996), Ed Wood’s I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998), Carrot Top’s Chairman of the Board (1998), Stuart Little (1999), The Flinstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), Pauly Shore is Dead (2003), The Aristocrats (2005), and Amy Heckerling’s Vamps (2012). He was also a regular on the TV series Hope and Gloria (1995-96), The Hughleys (1998-2000), and So Little Time (2001-02) and guested on such shows as Hill Street Blues, The Ben Stiller Show, Seinfeld, Grace Under Fire, ER, and That’s So Raven. Negron also published several humor pieces, and performed solo shows in places like Edinburgh Fringe and Soho Playhouse (the same place where I co-presented Angie Pontani’s Burlesque-a-pades in 2012.) His last screen credit was the 2015 film Alienated.

For more on show biz history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.