If you grew up in the ’60s or ’70s, during the boom in television series, you probably came across a work or two by Vic Tayback. Vic was a familiar face on television during those decades in which he held numerous roles as a character actor. Tayback is known for his role as restaurant owner Mel Sharples in the comedy-drama film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) and also in the TV sitcom Alice (1976–1985). For his role on the series, he won two Golden Globe Awards from three nominations and was also nominated for an Emmy Award.
Let’s delve into the life and times, career and family life of this larger than life actor, Vic Tayback.
Who Was Vic Tayback? biography
Son of Syrian immigrant couple Victor Tayback was born on January 6, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York, USA. His parents, Helen (née Hanood) and Najeeb James Tayback, were originally from Aleppo, Syria. During his teenage years, the Taybacks were ready to move again, but this time it was within the nation, Burbank, California. There he completed his high school education at Burbank High School in 1949. He has one known sibling, a brother named Joe who had a career in radio. Joe was the longtime owner of KAZM, the only radio station in Sedona, Arizona.
Surprisingly, Vic didn’t realize the migration blunder like his parents did. He has lived in the Burbank area most of his life. He just moved to south Burbank, Glendale, California where he lived until his death.
Vic Tayback served in the US Navy before embarking on an acting career. After his military discharge in his twenties, he decided to pursue an acting career. He has appeared on stage as well as in films and on television. While working to establish himself in the industry, Tayback worked at various temporary jobs between acting gigs, including Kelly Corporation.
Vic Tayback has appeared in several stage productions in California, including Death of a Salesman and Brighton Beach Memoirs. In 1958 he guest-starred in the Alfred Hitchcock anthology series Present and in the film, The Resurrection Power
In the 60’s and 70’s he appeared in numerous television series, mainly as a character actor. Some of the series he has credited with his elite performances are The Patridge Family, Griff, F Troop, Family Affair, 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaii Five-O, Columbo, The Mary Tyler Show, The Monkees, Rawhide, Barney Miller, Get Smart, Bonanza, Bewitched, Fantasy Island, and Emergency! Other notable roles include Archie’s old friend Joe Tucker in And Then, Archie? episode of All in the Family (1974) and 1920s-style crime boss Jojo Krako in Star Trek: The Original Series (1968). His final television appearance was in 1990MacGyver as George Henderson.
He also starred in films such as Five Minutes Yet (1961), Bullitt (1968), Blood and Spike (1971), Papillon (1973), The Don Is Dead (1973), The Gambler (1974), Flash and Lightfoot (1974), No Deposit, No Return (1976), The Shaggy DA (1976), and The Cheap Detective (1978).
His career began in the ’80s with works such as Treasure Island (1985), Weekend Fighters (1986), The Underachievers (1987), Loverboy (1989), Beverly Hills Bodysnatchers (1989) and Horse Players (1990) to his credit. He also voiced Carface Caruthers in the action-adventure animated musical film All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) .
Despite all these ventures, Vic Tayback is best remembered as Mel Sharples, the owner of the diner in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) and it’s spinoff television series Alice (1976–1985). Additionally, he was the only actor in the original film to reimagine his role for the remainder of the series, also directing one of the episodes.
Vic Tayback co-founded the Company of Angels theater company with actors Richard Chamberlain and Sally Kellerman in Los Angeles, California. He was also a lifetime member of the Actors Studio.
Vic Tayback built not only a successful career, but also a successful family. He was married to one woman for almost three decades until they separated by death in 1990. In 1962, Tayback linked up with Sheila McKay Barnard and together they had a son named Christopher Tayback.
Christopher is a 1985 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a 1989 graduate of Harvard Law School. Before studying law, he acted briefly. From 1989 to 1991 he served as an Assistant District Attorney for LA County and then as Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California, Criminal Division. As of 2010, he was a trial counsel for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP in Los Angeles.
When did Vic Tayback die?
The Alice actor met an unhappy end on May 25, 1990 in Glendale, California. Vic Tayback died of an unexpected heart attack at the age of 60 and was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles with the inscription “Beloved Husband and Father” on his headstone.