NEW YORK — The life of American stage, film, radio and television actress Clarice Taylor will be celebrated on tomorrow at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem . Taylor , best known for her recurring role on The Cosby Show as Anna Huxtable, mother of Bill Cosby’s character Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable, died of heart failure at her home in Englewood , New Jersey on Monday, May 30, 2011 surrounded by family, according to family spokesperson, Terrie M. Williams. She was 93.
Born on September 20, 1917 in Buckingham County , Virginia , Taylor went on to grace the stage and screen for more than half a century. Her stage credits include the hit musical The Wiz , as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North and an Obie for a touring production of her own one-woman show Moms (based on the life of Moms Mabley); she was also one of the founding members of the Negro Ensemble Company in the East Village in 1967. Her many career highlights include playing Harriet on the television show Sesame Street , and roles in such films as Otto Preminger’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon , Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me , and Oscar Williams’ Five On The Black Hand Side.
Members of the public may pay their respects at a public viewing on Tuesday, June 7 from noon to 4 pm at Canaan Baptist Church.
Later that evening, luminaries will join friends and family of Taylor in paying tribute to the beloved entertainer at a private wake from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, followed directly by Taylor's private "Celebration of Life" funeral service. The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.
The family issued the following statement: “We are humbled by the support and love we have received from far and wide in our time of loss. The family is grateful for the light and laughter our mother gave not only to us but to the world during her time on The Cosby Show and throughout her long and illustrious career.” Taylor is survived by two sons, William and James Thomas; daughter-in-law Gizele Thomas; grandchildren Jason, Kristen, Raoul Jr., and Jared; and a host of relatives and friends.
Arrangements are being handled by Benta’s Funeral Home in Harlem . In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/NYPL, to which Taylor desired to bequeath her papers and her life’s work. Donations can be sent to the Schomburg at ­­­­­­­­­­­515 Malcolm X Boulevard , New York , NY 10037-1801 , attn: Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad; the check memo should read: In Memory of Clarice Taylor . Correspondence to the family may be sent c/o William Thomas, 2275 Morrison Avenue , Union , NJ 07083 .
The body will be interred at The Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx .