Great TV Star Nanette Fabray Dies At 97
The exuberant, indefatigable actress-singer Nanette Fabray, a Tony and Emmy winner, a star of Vincente Minnelli’s golden-age musical The Band Wagon and a longtime presence on television, most notably on The Hollywood Squares, died Thursday at her Palos Verdes, Calif., home, according to the New York Times. She was 97.
Nanette Fabray appeared on TV comedies and drama, starring on Westinghouse Playhouse, created by then-husband Ranald MacDougall, and recurring as Grandma Katherine Romano on hit 1970s sitcom One Day at a Time. She guested on Burke’s Law, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., The Mary Tyler Moore Show, on which she played Mary’s mother; Love American Style, Maude, Murder, She Wrote and Coach.
“A true performer and star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Nanette Fabray had limitless exuberance and an expert sense of comic timing,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “Her dedication to her art was equaled only by her generosity and willingness to help others.”
Born in San Diego, Nanette Ruby Bernadette Fabares was a singer and tap dancer in vaudeville as a child.
Nanette Fabray was a musical comedy star on Broadway in the 1940s, making her debut in Let’s Face It!, starring Danny Kaye and Eve Arden, and subsequently appearing in By Jupiter, My Dear Public, Jackpot and Bloomer Girl. She had star billing in High Button Shoes, Love Life — for which she won the Tony for best actress in a musical — and 1951’s Make a Wish. She later returned to the Rialto in 1962 to star with Robert Ryan in Mr. President, from Lindsay Crouse and Irving Berlin, and drew another nomination for best actress in a musical.
The actress appeared regularly on Sid Caesar’s Caesar’s Hour in the mid-’50s, winning three Emmys. She also guested on a seemingly innumerable number of variety shows, talkshows and gameshows starting in 1950 with Your Show of Shows. Nanette Fabray appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show five times and The Carol Burnett Show 13 times, and she showed up on programs fronted by Perry Como, Steve Allen, Jack Benny, Dinah Shore, Andy Williams, Merv Griffin, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, the Smothers Brothers and Bob Hope, as well as on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
She won the SAG Life Achievement Award in 1987.
Nanette Fabray was married to NBC executive David Tebet from 1947-1951 and to screenwriter Ranald MacDougall from 1957 until his death in 1973.
Survivors include a son, Jamie, from her second marriage and a niece, actress Shelley Fabares, and her husband, actor Mike Farrell.