Nanette Fabray

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-hour Archive interview, Nanette Fabray (1920-2018) talks about her early years in theater and in early experimental television where she served as an NBC "color girl." She speaks in great detail about her work with Sid Caesar on the variety series Caesar's Hour. She describes some of the series' most memorable comedy sketches including "Shadow Waltz" (a take-off on Your Hit Parade) and "The Commuters" (a recurring high-strung-husband and his wife sketch). She discusses her own short-lived series The Nanette Fabray Show, as well as guest appearances on other shows including The Carol Burnett Show, The Jerry Lewis Show, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Fabray then talks about her recurring role on the CBS sitcom One Day at a Time. She also discusses her passion for raising awareness of hearing impairment issues. Jennifer Howard conducted the interview on August 12, 2004 in Pacific Palisades, CA.

"I prefer live television because it's stage and film and everything rolled into one. Without the pressure. The stage, I think, is my very first favorite, because you're in charge. When you're on that stage, you're in charge. Live television, the director can always stop you, or go back, but at least you have an audience to play to."

People Talking About ...
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on when she first started performing; on her difficulty with her hearing, and on her participation in issues involving the deaf
On the first time she saw television, and on being NBC's "color girl"; on moving to New York, and on her training as an actress; on her early work in motion pictures

Chapter 2

On appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle, and The Arthur Murray Party; on appearing on Omnibus; on appearing on Playhouse 90, directed by John Frankenheimer
On appearing on Kaiser Aluminum Hour for "A Man's Game"; on the Hollywood Blacklist; on being compared to Imogene Coca on Caesar's Hour, and on working with Sid Caesar

Chapter 3

On the format of Caesar's Hour and on the music of the show; on working with the writers of Caesar's Hour, and on an on-air mishap where she was injured
On various sketches she performed in with Sid Caesar on Caesar's Hour, including doing pantomime with Caesar; on the kind of fan mail she got while on Caesar's Hour, and on the end of the show; on the legacy of Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour
On starring on The Nanette Fabray Show; on working with Wendell Corey on The Nanette Fabray Show

Chapter 4

On appearing on several variety shows including The Dinah Shore Show, The Danny Kaye Show, The Andy Williams Show, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour; on appearing on The Carol Burnett Show and doing sign language for the first time on television, and promoting sign language on television; on working with Carol Burnett and Tim Conway on The Carol Burnett Show
On appearing on Ford Startime, The Bell Telephone Hour, Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre, and Alice Through the Looking Glass; on appearing on Password; on appearing on The Hollywood Squares
On appearing in the special George M! with Joel Grey; on appearing on Love, American Style; on appearing in Happy Anniversary & Goodbye with Lucille Ball

Chapter 5

On appearing as "Mary Richards'" mother on two episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on her guest appearance as stroke survivor on Maude in the episode "Maude's Reunion"; on appearing in the feature film "Harper Valley P.T.A." with Barbara Eden
On appearing with Fred Astaire in The Man in the Santa Claus Suit; on her role as "Ann Romano's" mother on One Day at a Time; on her guest appearances on Coach
On her guest appearance on Murder, She Wrote; on her acting style; on good advice she's gotten regarding her acting in her career

Chapter 6

On working with a difficult director; on advice to aspiring actors
On her favorite medium to act in being live television; on career highlights, and on keeping on working; on how she'd like to be remembered
On b-roll pictures from her career - with Sid Caesar; doing a sketch with Sid Caesar on Caesar's Hour; doing a song and dance with Sid Caesar on Caesar's Hour; with Sid Caesar on the set of Caesar's Hour; with Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, and Sid Caesar; with Tony Randall on the set of Ford Startime; with Jerry Lewis; with Mary Tyler Moore on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on the set of Alice Through the Looking Glass; on the set of What's it All About, World?; with Bonnie Franklin on the set of One Day at a Time; with Bonnie Franklin and Pat Harrington on the set of One Day at a Time; with Phil Silvers; with Mary Tyler Moore on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on the set of The Bell Telephone Hour; with Andy Williams on the set of The Andy Williams Show; on the set of The Carol Burnett Show with Art Carney; as "The White Queen" in Alice Through the Looking Glass; on the set of George M!; on the set of Caesar's Hour; on the set of The Nanette Fabray Show; with Dean Martin on The Dean Martin Show; in her dressing room
Shows

Alice Through the Looking Glass

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Nanette Fabray on appearing in the special Alice Through the Looking Glass

Andy Williams Show, The

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Andy Williams Show

Art Linkletter's House Party

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and Art Linkletter's House Party

Arthur Murray Party, The

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Arthur Murray Party

Bell Telephone Hour, The

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Bell Telephone Hour

Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre with Ricardo Montalban and John Forsythe

Caesar's Hour

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Caesar's Hour with Sid Caesar
Nanette Fabray on being compared to Imogene Coca on Caesar's Hour, and on working with Sid Caesar
Nanette Fabray on the format of Caesar's Hour and on the music of the show
Nanette Fabray on working with the writers of Caesar's Hour, and on an on-air mishap where she was injured
Nanette Fabray on live, on-air mishaps during Caesar's Hour involving Sid Caesar
Nanette Fabray on various sketches she performed in with Sid Caesar on Caesar's Hour, including doing pantomime with Caesar
Nanette Fabray on the kind of fan mail she got while on Caesar's Hour, and on the end of the show
Nanette Fabray on the legacy of Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Carol Burnett Show and doing sign language for the first time on television, and promoting sign language on television
Nanette Fabray on working with Carol Burnett and Tim Conway on The Carol Burnett Show

Coach

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Nanette Fabray on her guest appearances on Coach

Danny Kaye Show, The

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Danny Kaye Show

Dinah Shore Show, The

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Dinah Shore Show, and on working with Jerry Lewis

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show

Ford Startime

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Ford Startime with Tony Randall

George M!

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Nanette Fabray on appearing in the special George M! with Joel Grey

Happy Anniversary & Goodbye

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Nanette Fabray on appearing in Happy Anniversary & Goodbye with Lucille Ball

Hollywood Squares, The

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Hollywood Squares

Kaiser Aluminum Hour

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Kaiser Aluminum Hour for "A Man's Game"

Love, American Style

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Love, American Style

Man in the Santa Claus Suit, The

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Nanette Fabray on appearing with Fred Astaire in The Man in the Santa Claus Suit, and on working with him in the feature "The Band Wagon"

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Nanette Fabray on appearing as "Mary Richards'" mother on two episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Nanette Fabray on the groundbreaking aspects The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Maude

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Nanette Fabray on her guest appearance as stroke survivor on Maude in the episode "Maude's Reunion"

Murder, She Wrote

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Nanette Fabray on her guest appearance on Murder, She Wrote in the episode "From the Horse's Mouth"

Nanette Fabray Show, The

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Nanette Fabray on starring on The Nanette Fabray Show
Nanette Fabray on working with Wendell Corey on The Nanette Fabray Show
Nanette Fabray on why she decided to ease up on work after the cancellation of The Nanette Fabray Show, and on appearing on variety shows

Omnibus

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Omnibus

One Day at a Time (1975-84)

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Nanette Fabray on her role as "Ann Romano's" mother on One Day at a Time
Nanette Fabray on working with her niece Shelley Fabares on One Day at a Time

Password

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Password

Playhouse 90

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Playhouse 90, directed by John Frankenheimer

Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and Art Linkletter's House Party

Texaco Star Theater

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle

Your Show of Shows

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Nanette Fabray on the legacy of Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour
Topics

Advice

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Nanette Fabray on good advice she's gotten regarding her acting in her career
Nanette Fabray on advice to aspiring actors

Bloopers

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Nanette Fabray on working with the writers of Caesar's Hour, and on an on-air mishap where she was injured
Nanette Fabray on live, on-air mishaps during Caesar's Hour involving Sid Caesar

Diversity in Television

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Nanette Fabray on her difficulty with her hearing, and on her participation in issues involving the deaf community
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Carol Burnett Show and doing sign language for the first time on television, and promoting sign language on television
Nanette Fabray on her guest appearance as stroke survivor on Maude in the episode "Maude's Reunion"

Hollywood Blacklist

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Nanette Fabray on the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Nanette Fabray on the Hollywood Blacklist

Overcoming Adversity

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Nanette Fabray on her difficulty with her hearing, and on her participation in issues involving the deaf community

People with Disabilities

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Nanette Fabray on her difficulty with her hearing, and on her participation in issues involving the deaf community
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Carol Burnett Show and doing sign language for the first time on television, and promoting sign language on television
Nanette Fabray on her guest appearance as stroke survivor on Maude in the episode "Maude's Reunion"

Pivotal Career Moments

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Nanette Fabray on her difficulty with her hearing, and on her participation in issues involving the deaf community

Technological Innovation

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Nanette Fabray on the first time she saw television, and on being NBC's "color girl" for General David Sarnoff

Television Industry

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Nanette Fabray on the Hollywood Blacklist
Nanette Fabray on good advice she's gotten regarding her acting in her career
Nanette Fabray on advice to aspiring actors
Professions

Actress

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Nanette Fabray on her acting style
Nanette Fabray on good advice she's gotten regarding her acting in her career
Nanette Fabray on working with a difficult director
Nanette Fabray on advice to aspiring actors

Performers

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Nanette Fabray on her acting style
Nanette Fabray on good advice she's gotten regarding her acting in her career
Nanette Fabray on working with a difficult director
Nanette Fabray on advice to aspiring actors
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Omnibus
Nanette Fabray on appearing on Playhouse 90
Nanette Fabray on appearing on Kaiser Aluminum Hour for "A Man's Game"

Comedy Series

View Genre
Nanette Fabray on starring on The Nanette Fabray Show
Nanette Fabray on appearing on Love, American Style
Nanette Fabray on appearing as "Mary Richards'" mother on two episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Nanette Fabray on her guest appearance as stroke survivor on Maude in the episode "Maude's Reunion"
Nanette Fabray on her role as "Ann Romano's" mother on One Day at a Time, and on her guest appearances on Coach

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Nanette Fabray on her guest appearance on Murder, She Wrote

Game Shows

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Password
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Hollywood Squares

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show
Nanette Fabray on appearing on Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Arthur Murray Party
Nanette Fabray on appearing on Caesar's Hour
Nanette Fabray on co-starring on Caesar's Hour
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Dinah Shore Show
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Danny Kaye Show
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Andy Williams Show
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and Art Linkletter's House Party
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Carol Burnett Show
Nanette Fabray on appearing on Ford Startime
Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Bell Telephone Hour
Nanette Fabray on appearing in the special Alice Through the Looking Glass

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Nanette Fabray on appearing in Happy Anniversary & Goodbye with Lucille Ball
Nanette Fabray on appearing with Fred Astaire in The Man in the Santa Claus Suit, and on working with him in the feature "The Band Wagon"
People

Beatrice Arthur

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Nanette Fabray on her guest appearance as stroke survivor on Maude in the episode "Maude's Reunion" with Beatrice Arthur

Fred Astaire

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Nanette Fabray on appearing with Fred Astaire in The Man in the Santa Claus Suit, and on working with him in the feature "The Band Wagon"

Lucille Ball

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Nanette Fabray on appearing in Happy Anniversary & Goodbye with Lucille Ball

Carol Burnett

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Carol Burnett Show and on working with Tim Conway

Sid Caesar

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Nanette Fabray on live, on-air mishaps during Caesar's Hour involving Sid Caesar
Nanette Fabray on various sketches she performed in with Sid Caesar on Caesar's Hour, including doing pantomime with Caesar
Nanette Fabray on the legacy of Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour

Tim Conway

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Carol Burnett Show and on working with Tim Conway

Barbara Eden

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Nanette Fabray on appearing in the feature film "Harper Valley P.T.A." with Barbara Eden

Shelley Fabares

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Nanette Fabray on working with her niece Shelley Fabares on One Day at a Time

Bonnie Franklin

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Nanette Fabray on her role as "Ann Romano's" (Bonnie Franklin) mother on One Day at a Time

Danny Kaye

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Danny Kaye Show

Norman Lear

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Nanette Fabray on being cast by Norman Lear as stroke survivor on Maude in the episode "Maude's Reunion"

Jerry Lewis

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Dinah Shore Show, and on working with Jerry Lewis

Mary Tyler Moore

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Nanette Fabray on appearing as "Mary's" mother on two episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Tony Randall

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on Ford Startime with Tony Randall

David Sarnoff

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Nanette Fabray on the first time she saw television, and on being NBC's "color girl" for General David Sarnoff

Dinah Shore

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Dinah Shore Show, and on working with Jerry Lewis

Tom Smothers

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and Art Linkletter's House Party

Dick Smothers

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and Art Linkletter's House Party

Andy Williams

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Nanette Fabray on appearing on The Andy Williams Show

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