Monday, February 26, 2018

The Late Great Nanette Fabray

Nanette Fabray, star of stage, screen, and television, died on February 22 at the age of 97.

Nanette Fabray was born Ruby Bernadette Nanette Fabares on October 27 1920 in San Diego, California. She began her career while very young, making her debut in vaudeville when she was only four years old. She went to Los Angeles Junior College and studied acting under legendary director Max Reinhardt.

Miss Fabray made her film debut in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex in 1939. That same year she appeared in A Child Is Born. She made her debut on Broadway in the production Meet the People in 1940. In the Forties she also appeared on Broadway in Let's Face It!, By Jupiter, My Dear Public, Jackpot, Bloomer Girl, High Button Shoes, Love Life, and Arms and the Girl. She made her television debut in 1949 in an episode of The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre.

In the Fifties Nanette Fabray was one of the stars of the classic movie musical The Band Wagon (1953).  On television she appeared on the television series Omnibus, Playhouse 90, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Arthur Murray Party, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, The Alcoa Hour, The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, Laramie, and Startime. She was a regular on Caesar's Hour for its first two seasons. Miss Fabray also appeared in a television adaptation of High Button Shoes. On Broadway she appeared in Make a Wish.

Nanette Fabrary opened the Sixties starring in the sitcom The Nannette Fabray Show, also known as Westinghouse Playhouse and Yes, Yes Nanette. She also regularly appeared on the game show Hollywood Squares. She guest starred on the TV shows Burke's Law, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, The Hollywood Palace, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and The Jerry Lewis Show. She also appeared in the TV movies Alice Through the Looking Glass and Fame is the Name of the Game. She appeared in the films Happy Ending (1969) and Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County (1970).  In the Sixties she appeared on Broadway in Mr. President.

In the Seventies Miss Fabray was a regular on the sitcom One Day at a Time. She continued to appear on Hollywood Squares and also appeared on Match Game. She guest starred on the show The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Love, American Style; Maude; and The Love Boat. She appeared in the film Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978). She appeared on Broadway in No Hard Feelings.

In the Eighties Miss Fabray continued to appear on One Day at a Time. She guest starred on Hotel, The Munsters Today, The Golden Palace, and Coach (on which her niece Shelley Fabares was one of the stars).  She appeared in the movies Amy (1981) and Personal Exemptions (1989).  In the Nineties she guest starred on the TV show Coach and appeared in the movie Teresa's Tattoo (1994).  She continued to appear on stage into the Naughts.

Quite simply, Nanette Fabray was an incredible talent. She could sing. She could dance. She was an incredible comedienne. As if that was not enough, she was also beautiful and vivacious. She created several memorable moments on television and on film, from the "Triplets", "That's Entertainment", and "Louisiana Hayride" numbers in The Band Wagon to sketches with the legendary Sid Caesar. Her talent was such that she could easily outshine even the stars of the shows on which she appeared. There can be little wonder she was very much in demand on variety shows and game shows. What is more, she left her mark on television, on stage, and in films. She was one of those few performers who seemed talented in everything: singing, dancing, acting, and comedy.

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