AKA Nanette Ruby Bernadette Fabares
Birthplace: San Diego, CA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor, Singer
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Caesar's Hour
Nanette Fabray was still a teenager when she made her Broadway debut, and through her 20s and 30s she was the leading lady in a long list of prestige productions, some hits and some flops, on the New York stage. She won a Tony in 1949, for her performance in the musical Love Life. In her biggest Broadway hits and her earliest films, she was credited under her birth name, Nanette Fabares. The pronunciation is the same -- Fabray -- but she changed the spelling after an embarrassing moment on Ed Sullivan's top-rated show, Toast of the Town, when Sullivan, reading a cue card on live coast-to-coast TV, introduced her as "Nanette Fa-bare-ass".
On Kaiser Aluminum Hour, where a play was presented live on network television every week, Fabray starred in a 1957 telecast of A Man's Game. The plot had a major league baseball scout discovering a pitcher with a blazing fastball, and the twist was that the pitcher was Fabray. When Sid Caesar's sidekick left his program to star in her own Imogene Coca Show, Fabray took Coca's place. It was a difficult act to follow, as Coca was already considered a legendary talent, but Fabray won two Emmys during her time on Caesar's Hour.
She played Mary's mother on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and played mother to Bonnie Franklin and grandmother to Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli on the long-running dramedy One Day at a Time. She also starred in her own Nanette Fabray Show in 1961, playing a newlywed whose husband tells her -- on their wedding night -- that he has two young children from a previous marriage; the program was quickly cancelled.
Fabray was never a major film star, but several of her film performances were terrific. Alongside perpetual sad-sack Oscar Levant, Fabray's character wrote the play within the Fred Astaire film The Band Wagon, and Fabray belted out "Louisiana Hayride". She played a pill-popping maid in The Happy Ending with Jean Simmons, and she was Dan Blocker's phony mail-order bride in Disneyesque Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County.
Fabray has impaired hearing, wore discreet hearing aids throughout her career, and underwent four inner-ear operations.
Her second husband, screenwriter and sometime-director Ranald MacDougall, had a hand in writing three classic films: Mildred Pierce for Joan Crawford, Objective: Burma for Errol Flynn, and Cleopatra for Elizabeth Taylor. He was President of the Writers Guild of America in the early 1970s.
Contrary to popular legend, Fabray did not begin her career by playing "Baby Nan" in several "Our Gang" shorts. She never appeared in any "Our Gang" shorts, and "Our Gang" never featured a character named "Baby Nan."
Husband: Dave Tebet (VP of NBC, m. 1947, div. 1951, d. 2005 stroke)
Husband: Ranald MacDougall (screenwriter, b. 10-Mar-1915, m. 1957, d. 12-Dec-1973)
Endorsement of R. J. Reynolds Camel cigarettes
Tony 1949 for Love Life
Risk Factors: Smoking
Caesar's Hour Ann Victor (1954-56)
One Day at a Time Katherine Romano (1979-84)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Broadway: The Golden Age (Apr-2003) · Herself
Teresa's Tattoo (Mar-1994)
The Man in the Santa Claus Suit (23-Dec-1979)
Harper Valley P.T.A. (2-Aug-1978)
Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County (1-May-1970) · Sadie
The Happy Ending (21-Dec-1969) · Agnes
The Band Wagon (7-Aug-1953) · Lily Marton
A Child Is Born (7-Dec-1939)
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (27-Sep-1939) · Mistress Margaret Radcliffe
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