‘Temptation’ Renee Taylor just has to laugh at it all

By Susan King

Los Angeles Times


Renee Taylor is a very funny lady known for such comedic roles as Eva Braun in Mel Brooks’ 1968 classic “The Producers,” Fran Drescher’s ultimate Jewish mother on “The Nanny” and Brian Benben’s ultimate Jewish mother on HBO’s “Dream On.”

But her career didn’t start out that way.

She was a serious dramatic actress in the 1950s, studying eight years with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Martin Landau, Steve McQueen and Louis Gossett Jr.

“I loved it,” she said of her Actors Studio years. “I went three times a week and I sat there all day long. It was like church.”

But it was comedy where she found success.

“You know why I went into comedy?” she asks. “Because it was hard getting work in drama.”

Taylor provides comic relief - and a few dramatic moments - in Tyler Perry’s new cautionary melodrama “Temptation,” opening Friday, which revolves around a young married marriage counselor (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) whose affair with a volatile billionaire forever changes her life.

Taylor plays Ms. Waco Chapman, a neurotic but motherly owner of a Washington, D.C., drug store who employs Smollett-Bell’s pharmacist husband (Lance Gross) and a clerk (Brandy Norwood) with a secret.

Gross, who was familiar with Taylor from “The Nanny,” described the actress in an email as “a beast when it comes to being likable and funny. I never knew what direction she was going to take in the scene. ... Tyler allowed her to discover beats and new things on her own.”

“People don’t know you hurt yourself when you have a moral breach like that,” she said.

Not that she’s had to deal with such a problem with her husband of 47 years, actor-writer-director Joseph Bologna.

When they married in 1965, they vowed they would be faithful. And so far they have, she said.

She and Bologna used to hold marriage encounter groups at the Beverly Hills home where they have lived for 35 years.

“People came out who had trouble with their relationships and we let them share their problems,” Taylor said during a recent interview at the house, which boasts lush gardens.

And they are still in the relationship business.

“I am always introducing people to people, and people are calling me, saying, ’Maybe you know someone like Joe?’” said Taylor. “When I meet men, I say, ‘Are you married?”“

So six months ago they started two online dating services (for which they do comedic ads) at seniorpremierdating.com and boomerdating.com.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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