Leigh Taylor-Young
Taylor-Young at the 1994 Emmy Awards
Leigh Taylor

(1945-01-25) January 25, 1945 (age 79)
Other namesLeigh Young
Leigh Taylor Young
Years active1966–present
(m. 1967; div. 1974)
(m. 1978; div. 1984)
(m. 2003; div. 2004)
John Morton
(m. 2013)
ChildrenPatrick O'Neal

Leigh Taylor-Young (born January 25, 1945)[1] is an American actress who has appeared on stage, screen, podcast, radio, and television. Her most well-known films include I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968), The Horsemen (1971), The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971), Soylent Green (1973), and Jagged Edge (1985). She won an Emmy for her role on the hit television series Picket Fences.

Early life

Young was born in Washington, D.C. She added the surname Young, the surname of her stepfather, Donald E. Young, a Detroit executive. Her father was a diplomat, and her younger siblings are actress/sculptor Dey Young and writer/director/producer Lance Young. The siblings were raised in Oakland County, Michigan. Leigh graduated from [[Groves High School (Michigan). Before attending Northwestern University as an economics major, she spent a summer shifting scenery, modeling, acting, and sweeping up at a Detroit little theater.[2] She left Northwestern before graduating to pursue a full-time acting career, making her professional debut on Broadway in 3 Bags Full. About dropping out of college, she said:

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 on the primetime 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 series' producer, Everett Chambers, cast her because of her "great warmth and sweet angelic qualities not unlike Mia". When she received the role, Taylor-Young had been in California only a few days.[2] She initially went there in April 1966 to recuperate from an attack of pneumonia.[4] She impressed the head producer of Peyton Place, Paul Monash, with a performance from The Glass Menagerie and was immediately signed to a seven-year television and multiple-movie contract.[4]

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."[5]

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 [3 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."[6]

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. She subsequently 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 comedy I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968). It was commercially successful, and she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Most Promising Female Newcomer. She then appeared with husband Ryan O'Neal in The Big Bounce (1969).


For the next several years, her pictures tended to be high-budget films, such as The Adventurers (1970), based on the novel by best-seller Harold Robbins; and The Horsemen, (1971) with leading man Omar Sharif. She is perhaps best known for her performance as Shirl, the "furniture" girl, in the science fiction classic Soylent Green (1973). After her appearance in Soylent Green, she made the professional decision to take a hiatus from acting in order to concentrate on raising her only child, son Patrick.


The 1980s saw 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 Secret Admirer.

In addition to her film work, she 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. From 1987–89, 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. Favoring Samuel Beckett, she starred opposite Donald Davis in Beckett'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. She also toured Los Angeles, New York City and London with the show.[7]

1990s and 2000s

After 1990 Taylor-Young's 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, playing mercurial and cougar-ish mayor Rachel Harris from 1993–1995. She won an Emmy Award for the role in 1994, for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and received a Golden Globe nomination the following year.[8] From 2004–2007 she played Katherine Barrett Crane on the soap opera Passions.

Taylor-Young also appeared on TV series such as The Young Riders, Murder, She Wrote, Sunset Beach, Malibu Shores, 7th Heaven, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Life. She had recurring roles on Beverly Hills, 90210, The Pretender, and UPN's The Sentinel. She 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

Taylor-Young married Ryan O'Neal, her Peyton Place co-star, in 1967. Their wedding was spontaneous: While in Hawaii for a promotion for Peyton Place, an ABC manager offered them the opportunity to marry at his home.[6]

She married John Morton in January 2013 at PRANA, headquarters of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness in Los Angeles.[9] She is an ordained minister in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, founded by the late John-Roger Hinkins and now led by her husband.[10]



Year Title Role Notes
1968 I Love You, Alice B. Toklas Nancy Nominated—Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
1969 The Big Bounce Nancy Barker
1969 Under the Yum Yum Tree Jennifer Television movie
1969 The Adventurers Amparo Rojo
1970 The Games College Co-ed Uncredited
1970 The Buttercup Chain Manny
1971 The Horsemen Zareh
1971 The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight Angela
1973 Soylent Green Shirl
1980 Marathon Barrie Television movie
1980 Can't Stop the Music Claudia Walters
1981 Looker Jennifer Long
1985 Secret Admirer Elizabeth Fimple
1985 Jagged Edge Virginia Howell
1988 Who Gets the Friends? Aggie Harden Television movie
1989 Accidents Beryl Chambers
1990 The Ghost Writer Elizabeth Strack Television movie
1991 Silverfox Nita Davenport Television movie
1993 Dreamrider Dr. Sharon Kawai
1996 An Unfinished Affair Cynthia Connor Television movie
1996 Mariette in Ecstasy Narrator
1997 Stranger In My Home Margot Television movie
1997 Bliss Redhead
1998 Addams Family Reunion Patrice Uncredited
2002 Slackers Valerie Patton
2003 Klepto Teresa
2006 Coffee Date Diana
2007 Dirty Laundry Mrs. James
2011 The Wayshower Elva Hinkins


Year Title Role Notes
1966–1967 Peyton Place Rachel Welles 70 episodes
1976 McCloud Bonnie Foster Episode: "Bonnie and McCloud"
1978 Fantasy Island Leslie Tarleton Episode: "I Want to Get Married"
1978 The Love Boat Ann Sterling Episode: "The Captain's Cup"
1982 Hart to Hart Victoria Wilder Episode: "Deep in the Hart of Dixieland"
1982 The Devlin Connection Lauren Dane 9 episodes
1983 Hotel Carole Jamison Episode: "Secrets"
1983 The Hamptons Lee Chadway Episode: "1.1"
1985 Hotel Stephanie McMullen Episode: "Identities"
1986 Spenser: For Hire Alicia Carlisle Episode: "Angel of Desolation"
1986 Hotel Sharon Lockwood Episode: "Pressure Points"
1987–1989 Dallas Kimberly Cryder 20 episodes
1988 Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985 TV series) Adelaide Walker Episode: "Murder Party"
1990 Over My Dead Body Linda Talmadge Episode: "If Looks Could Kill"
1991 Evening Shade Beck Kincaid Episode: "Wood's Thirtieth Reunion"
1992 The Young Riders Polly Episode: "Lessons Learned"
1992–1993 Civil Wars Unknown 2 episodes
1993–1995 Picket Fences Rachel Harris 16 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
1995 Empty Nest Gwen Langley Episode: "Grandma, What Big Eyes You Have"
1995 JAG Meredith Episode: "A New Life - Part 1"
1995 Murder, She Wrote Lainie Sherman Boswell Episode: "A Quaking in Aspen"
1996–1999 The Sentinel Naomi Sandburg 3 episodes
1996 Malibu Shores Mrs. Green Episode: "The Competitive Edge"
1997 7th Heaven Nora Chambers Episode: "Don't Take My Love Away"
1997 Rugrats Story Reader Episode: "Angelica Nose Best"
1997 Sunset Beach Elaine Stevens 109 episodes
1998 Beverly Hills, 90210 Blythe Hunter 3 episodes
1998–1999 The Pretender Michelle Lucca Stamatis 3 episodes
1999 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Yanas Episode: "Prodigal Daughter"
2003 Strong Medicine Catherine Beecher-Douglas Episode: "Maternal Mirrors"
2004–2007 Passions Katherine Barrett Crane
2007 Life Doreen Turner Episode: "Tear Asunder"


  1. ^ Rose, Mike (January 25, 2023). "Today's famous birthdays list for January 25, 2023 includes celebrity Alicia Keys". Cleveland.com. Retrieved January 25, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Allison Leaves, Alicia Arrives", The Oakland Tribune, August 11, 1966, p. 66
  3. ^ a b c Leigh Taylor-Young bio, Yahoo.com; accessed December 1, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Newcomer For Peyton Place", Independent Star-News, October 23, 1966, p. 148
  5. ^ "Trip for health brings star role", Chronicle Telegram, September 9, 1966, p. 20.
  6. ^ a b "Things Happen Fast to Lovely Actress Leigh", North Adams Transcript, April 8, 1967, p. 17
  7. ^ "The Beckett Plays". studio-jack-garfein.com. Archived from the original on December 9, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  8. ^ Leigh Taylor-Young on AllMovie
  9. ^ MSIA.org
  10. ^ Bennetts, Leslie (Sep 2009). "Beautiful People, Ugly Choices". Vanity Fair. Vol. 51, no. 9. p. 302.