Philadelphia-born actress Holland Taylor majored in drama at Bennington College, and arrived in New York in 1966, hoping to take the theater world by storm. That didn't quite happen, despite Taylor making her Broadway debut in The Devils, starring Anne Bancroft, and working with Alan Bates in Butley (she was also in that notorious failure, Moose Murders). A protégée of legendary acting teacher Stella Adler, Taylor endured 14 years of disappointments interspersed with the occasional success, and played in one heavily hyped television series (CBS's Beacon Hill) that failed in less than a season, all of it broken up by work in the daytime drama The Edge of Night.
Finally, in 1980, lightning struck when Taylor was cast in the series Bosom Buddies in the role of Ruth Dunbar, the acid-tongued advertising agency executive employing the two protagonists of the program, played by Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari. Taylor accepted the part despite some initial reluctance, mostly thanks to Adler's urging, but she proved almost as much of a breakout personality onscreen as Hanks and Scolari. Taylor took lines written with venom and added her own wry twists to their meanings and inflections, and made all of her scenes memorable. The series only lasted two full seasons, but when it folded, Taylor was being offered television and movie roles on a steady basis. Most of her subsequent series didn't last more than a season each, but Taylor's parts, usually as charmingly acerbic middle-aged women, stayed big and got larger, up through programs such as The Naked Truth, starring Téa Leoni.