Remember Rollo from 'Sanford and Son'? He is 80 now and one of the few surviving cast members

Monica Otayza
Aug 23, 2018
03:49 A.M.
Share this pen
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

Nathaniel Taylor is only one out of the five remaining cast members of the 70s sitcom "Sandford & Son." At 80-years-old, he continues to do public appearances and tries to keep himself in perfect shape. 

Advertisement

In the sitcom, Taylor's character was Fred Sandford's best friend, who was portrayed by Redd Foxx. In real life, the two remained to be good friends even after their show ended. 

During a previous interview, Nathaniel shared that he was never interested in being an actor at first, but when the opportunity was presented to him, he took it and eventually, it turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life. 

Advertisement

While working at a theater as a maintenance guy, a guy named Vantile Whitfield ran into the theater. He encouraged young Nathaniel to audition for a role on TV, and he eventually landed the job. 

"One day I was standing there with the guy who ran the theater named Vantile Whitfield. He had moved from running the theater to working for National Endowment for Humanities and the Arts. He told me, ‘You oughta go. They are doing interviews for the TV.’"

At first, he was reluctant to go, but after some motivational talks with his friends, he went and read for the producer of the show. As for how he was able to land audition? He lied. Given that he had no experiences acting before, he said that he was the telephone repairman and got access to Aaron Ruben's office, who was the man-in-charge of the auditions. Once he fixed the phone, he revealed the white lie to Ruben, who then gave him a chance to read for the part of Rollo. He remembered the scenario clearly:

Advertisement

"We read back and forth. Then he asked if I knew Redd Foxx. I said, ‘I’ve heard of the clown, but I ain’t never met him.’ He told me Redd was on stage 13.  He told me to go down to stage 13, tell him what happened upstairs and see what he thinks about it.’"

Advertisement

After getting the instruction, he did meet Redd, and although his initial reaction wasn't amicable, they later became good friends after shooting 32 episodes on the show. Unlike his friendship with Redd, the other star of the show, Demond Wilson, did not get along with Taylor, which led to his departure from the hit show. 

Advertisement

He eventually reprised his character in the show's spin-off series alongside Foxx, and even got a small role on "What's Happening!!". After those three shows, Nathaniel decided to retire from show business. 

Advertisement

"‘I had three sons to raise. I had neglected my sons for the five years that I was in the business. I was out all the time. I really wasn’t ‘Hollywood,’ so to speak. I was happy going back to the community to teach in the theater.’"

Advertisement

Since then, Taylor has lived a quiet life, teaching, mentoring, and directing young actors in the local theater that he first came from. He also put great importance on taking care of his family, which became his top priority. 

Advertisement