Taylor, Theodore 1921-2006
Taylor, Theodore 1921-2006
See index for SATA sketch: Born June 23, 1921, in Statesville, NC; died of complications from a heart attack, October 26, 2006, in Laguna Beach, CA. Journalist and author. Taylor was an award-winning writer best known for his young-adult novel The Cay. He enjoyed writing from an early age, with his first interest being journalism. The young Taylor got his start when he was just thirteen years old, contributing sports stories to the Portsmouth Star. He dropped out of high school, because he was unable to complete the math requirements for graduation, and was a cub reporter for the Washington Daily News and a radio sports writer for the National Broadcasting Company. In 1942 he joined the Merchant Marine, and two years later, he was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy. Taylor served in the U.S. military until 1946, and enlisted again in the early 1950s during the Korean War. Between his military assignments, he was briefly a sports editor for Sunset News and was in public relations for New York University and YMCA schools. From 1949 to 1950 he also was a reporter for Florida's Orlando Sentinel Star. After his war duties in Korea, Taylor returned to publicity, working in Hollywood for Paramount Pictures and then as a story editor, writer, and associate producer for Perlberg-Seaton Productions. From 1961 to 1968 he was a freelance press agent, and from 1965 to 1968 he was a screenwriter for Twentieth Century-Fox. Taylor's Hollywood employment was due to a need for income while he pursued a writing career in his spare time. His early books were nonfiction, and he was researching one such title, Fire on the Beaches (1997), when he stumbled on the story that would inspire The Cay (1969). He read about an incident in which a young boy, one of many victims of a German U-boat attack during World War II, was lost at sea. Taylor imagined what might have happened had the boy survived, filling out the characterizations with people he knew from life. The story of the marooned, prejudiced white boy Phillip and the wise black man Timothy who helps Phillip outgrow his racism drew criticism from some who felt Timothy was portrayed stereotypically. Many more critics and readers, however, praised the novel, which went on to win a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award and other honors. It was also adapted as a television movie in 1974. At first resisting the demand for a sequel, in 1993 Taylor published Timothy of the Cay, which was also critically acclaimed. The Cay would prove to be Taylor's greatest success, however. He went on to publish numerous other young-adult novels, including The Children's War (1971), Sweet Friday Island (1984), The Weirdo (1991), and Ice Drift (2004). While these often earned Taylor praise and literary honors, readers always remembered him best for The Cay. Taylor was also the author of novels and nonfiction for adults. His numerous other honors include a Young Reader's Medal for The Trouble with Tuck (1981) and the Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award for The Bomb (1995).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2006, p. B10.
Washington Post, October 30, 2006, p. B4.