Leigh Taylor-Young

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Leigh Taylor-Young
Leigh Taylor-Young at the 47th Emmy Awards.jpg
Leigh Taylor-Young at the 1994 Emmy Awards
BornLeigh Young
(1945-01-25) January 25, 1945 (age 69)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Other namesLeigh Taylor
Leigh Taylor Young
Years active1966–present
Spouse(s)Ryan O'Neal (1967-1973) (divorced)
Guy McElwaine (1978-1983) (divorced)
MSIA Minister John Morton (2013-present)
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Leigh Taylor-Young
Leigh Taylor-Young at the 47th Emmy Awards.jpg
Leigh Taylor-Young at the 1994 Emmy Awards
BornLeigh Young
(1945-01-25) January 25, 1945 (age 69)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Other namesLeigh Taylor
Leigh Taylor Young
Years active1966–present
Spouse(s)Ryan O'Neal (1967-1973) (divorced)
Guy McElwaine (1978-1983) (divorced)
MSIA Minister John Morton (2013-present)

Leigh Taylor-Young (born January 25, 1945) is an American actress who has appeared on stage, screen, podcast, radio, and television.

Early life[edit]

"Someone once told me that success is when preparation meets with opportunity. So obviously the most important thing is to be prepared when the opportunity comes."

Taylor-Young in a 1966 interview.[1]

Leigh Taylor-Young was born on January 25, 1945, in Washington, D.C. Her last name is an amalgamation of the last names of her father, a diplomat, and her stepfather, a successful Detroit executive. Her younger siblings are actress and sculptor Dey Young and writer/director/producer Lance Young. Taylor-Young was raised in Oakland County, Michigan, and graduated from Groves High School in Beverly Hills, Michigan, in 1962. Before attending Northwestern University as an economics major, she spent a summer shifting scenery, modelling, acting, and sweeping up at a Detroit little theater.[2] However, she left before graduating to pursue a full-time acting career, making her professional debut on Broadway in Three Bags Full. About dropping out of college, the actress explained:

"I left there because I lost the most wonderful teacher. I didn't want to go back when she left. My parents naturally were upset, and I spent four months at home thinking what to do, then went to New York and California."[2]



Ryan O'Neal with Taylor-Young in Peyton Place

Taylor-Young got her first big break in 1966, when she was cast as Rachel Welles in the prime time soap opera Peyton Place.[3] Her character was written in the show as a replacement for the character of Allison MacKenzie, previously played by Mia Farrow. The show's producer, Everett Chambers, cast her because of her "great warmth and sweet angelic qualities not unlike Mia".[2] At the time she received the role, Taylor-Young had been in California for only a few days.[2] She initially went there in April 1966 to recuperate from an attack of pneumonia.[1] She impressed the head producer of Peyton Place, Paul Monash, with a performance from The Glass Menagerie and was immediately signed a seven-year television and multiple motion picture contract.[1] Shortly after, she told the press: "I'd have preferred to stay in New York to establish myself as an actress before coming to Hollywood."[4]

It was on this series that she met Ryan O'Neal, whom she later married. Taylor-Young had difficulty working on the show, explaining in an April 1967 interview:

"When I got my first check for [Three Bags Full], I thought to myself, 'isn't this wonderful — being paid to have fun.' But after working in 70 chapters of Peyton Place out here in Hollywood, I'm glad to get my paycheck. I can now understand why good actors and actress complain about going stale in television. It's difficult to give a character depth when there's a man with a stop watch standing beside you complaining that the company is spending $3,000 a minute. Yes, I've learned that when you act in a TV series it becomes your whole life."[5]

Despite the huge amount of publicity she received while working on Peyton Place, Taylor-Young left the soap opera in 1967 due to her pregnancy. Following this, she pursued a career in films, landing a lucrative seven-year contract with a major studio. Her first film role came opposite Peter Sellers in the 1968 comedy, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas. The film was commercially successful, and she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Most Promising Female Newcomer. This was followed by her appearance with husband Ryan O'Neal in The Big Bounce in 1969.


For the next several years, her pictures tended to be high budget films, such as The Adventurers and The Horsemen. She is perhaps best known for her performance as Shirl, the "furniture" girl, in the 1973 science fiction classic Soylent Green. For almost ten years after her appearance in Soylent Green, however, her career went into an extended hiatus as she concentrated on raising her only son Patrick O'Neal.


The 1980s saw Leigh Taylor-Young return to both film and television, where her looks and voice often led to casting in roles of an aristocratic bent.[3] In 1981, she appeared in the high technology Michael Crichton production Looker. In 1985, she was cast as Virginia Howell in Jagged Edge, and appeared in the romantic comedy film Secret Admirer.

In addition to her film work, Taylor-Young guest-starred on such television series as McCloud, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, Hotel and Spenser: For Hire. She returned to her soap opera roots in 1983, appearing in the short-lived primetime series The Hamptons.[3] From 1987 to 1989, she played Kimberly Cryder, a recurring character on Dallas, her first role in a major prime time soap since Peyton Place.[3]

Despite being best known for her film and television work, she has stated a preference for live theater where her career began. A favorite of Samuel Beckett, she starred opposite Donald Davis in the Irish playwright’s one act play Catastrophe (included in a trilogy of one-act plays billed as The Beckett Plays) at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1984. Catastrophe with Taylor-Young also toured Los Angeles, New York City, and London.[6]

1990s and 2000s[edit]

Taylor-Young's recent film credits have included minor roles in Honeymoon Academy (1990), Bliss (1997), and Slackers (2002), as well as direct-to-video films Addams Family Reunion (1998), Klepto (2003), "Spiritual Warriors (2007)" and "The Wayshower" (2011)

Perhaps her best-known television work was on the CBS series Picket Fences, in which she played mercurial and cougarish mayor Rachel Harris from 1993 through 1995. She won an Emmy Award for the role in 1994, for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, as well as a Golden Globe nomination the following year.[7] From 2004 through 2007, she played Katherine Barrett Crane on the soap opera Passions.

In addition to her roles on Picket Fences and Passions, Taylor-Young has also appeared on series such as The Young Riders, Murder, She Wrote, Sunset Beach, Malibu Shores, 7th Heaven and Life. She also had recurring roles on Beverly Hills, 90210, The Pretender, and UPN's The Sentinel.

Taylor-Young has also appeared in a handful of television films, including Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister Spirit (1987), Who Gets the Friends?, and Stranger in My Home (1997).

Personal life[edit]

Leigh Taylor-Young married Ryan O'Neal, her Peyton Place co-star, in 1967. Their wedding was a spontaneous one: while in Hawaii for a promotion for Peyton Place, an ABC manager offered the couple to marry at his home.[5] The marriage produced a son, Patrick O'Neal; but Leigh and O'Neal divorced in 1973. She lived in India for almost two years and returned to the U.S. in 1976. Her sister is actress Dey Young, who also appeared on Star Trek; and her brother is director Lance Young, who directed the movie Bliss. Leigh also married director Guy Mcelwaine in 1978. She practices yoga, dancing, singing, and meditation.[citation needed]

Taylor-Young is an ordained minister in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, which was co-founded by her partner, John Morton.[8] Leigh and John Morton married on January 1, 2013 in Prana.



1968I Love You, Alice B. ToklasNancyNominated—Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
1969The Big BounceNancy Barker
1969Under the Yum Yum TreeJenniferTelevision movie
1969The AdventurersAmparo Rojo
1970The GamesCollege Co-edUncredited
1970The Buttercup ChainManny
1971The HorsemenZareh
1971The Gang That Couldn't Shoot StraightAngela
1973Soylent GreenShirl
1980MarathonBarrieTelevision movie
1980Can't Stop the MusicClaudia Walters
1981LookerJennifer Long
1982The Devlin Connection IIILauren
1985Secret AdmirerElizabeth Fimple
1985Jagged EdgeVirginia Howell
1988Who Gets the Friends?Aggie HardenTelevision movie
1989AccidentsBeryl Chambers
1990The Ghost WriterElizabeth StrackTelevision movie
1991SilverfoxNita DavenportTelevision movie
1993DreamriderDr. Sharon Kawai
1996An Unfinished AffairCynthia ConnorTelevision movie
1997Strange In My HomeMargotTelevision movie
2002SlackersValerie Patton
2006Coffee DateDiana
2007Dirty LaundryMrs. James
2011The WayshowerElva Hinkins


1966–1967Peyton PlaceRachel Welles70 episodes
1976McCloudBonnie FosterEpisode: "Bonnie and McCloud"
1978Fantasy IslandLeslie TarletonEpisode: "I Want to Get Married"
1978The Love BoatAnn SterlingEpisode: "The Captain's Cup"
1982Hart to HartVictoria WilderEpisode: "Deep in the Hart of Dixieland"
1983HotelCarole JamisonEpisode: "Secrets"
1983The HamptonsLee ChadwayEpisode: "1.1"
1985HotelStephanie McMullenEpisode: "Identities"
1986Spenser: For HireAlicia CarlisleEpisode: "Angel of Desolation"
1986HotelSharon LockwoodEpisode: "Pressure Points"
1987–1989DallasKimberly Cryder20 episodes
1990Over My Dead BodyLinda TalmadgeEpisode: "If Looks Could Kill"
1991Evening ShadeBeck KincaidEpisode: "Wood's Thirtieth Reunion"
1992–1993Civil WarsUnknown2 episodes
1993–1995Picket FencesRachel Harris16 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
1995Empty NestGwen LangleyEpisode: "Grandma, What Big Eyes You Have"
1995JAGMeredithEpisode: "A New Life - Part 1"
1995Murder, She WroteLainie Sherman BoswellEpisode: "A Quaking in Aspen"
1996–1999The SentinelNaomi Sandburg3 episodes
1996Malibu ShoresMrs. GreenEpisode: "The Competitive Edge"
19977th HeavenNora ChambersEpisode: "Don't Take My Love Away"
1997RugratsStory ReaderEpisode: "Angelica Nose Best"
1997Sunset BeachElaine Stevens109 episodes
1998Beverly Hills, 90210Blythe Hunter3 episodes
1998–1999The PretenderMichelle Lucca Stamatis3 episodes
1999Star Trek: Deep Space NineYanasEpisode: "Prodigal Daughter"
2003Strong MedicineCatherine Beecher-DouglasEpisode: "Maternal Mirrors"
2004–2007PassionsKatherine Barrett Crane5 episodes
2007LifeDoreen TurnerEpisode: "Tear Asunder"


  1. ^ a b c "Newcomer For Peyton Place", Independent Star-News, October 23, 1966, p. 148
  2. ^ a b c d "Allison Leaves, Alicia Arrives", The Oakland Tribune, August 11, 1966, p. 66
  3. ^ a b c d Leigh Taylor-Young- Biography, Yahoo!
  4. ^ "Trip for health brings star role", Chronicle Telegram, September 9, 1966, p. 20
  5. ^ a b "Things Happen Fast to Lovely Actress Leigh", North Adams Transcript, April 8, 1967, p. 17
  6. ^ The Beckett Plays detailed in Jack Garfein's CV
  7. ^ Leigh Taylor-Young on AllMovie
  8. ^ Bennetts, Leslie (Sep 2009). "Beautiful People, Ugly Choices". Vanity Fair 51 (9). p. 302. 

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