Nanette Fabray


Actor
Nanette Fabray

About

Also Known As
Nanette Ruby Bernadette Fabares, Ruby Bernadette Nanette Fabares, Nanette Fabares
Birth Place
San Diego, California, USA
Born
October 27, 1920
Died
February 22, 2018

Biography

A performer since age three, the effervescent Nanette Fabray managed to keep her career moving not only because of her ample talent, but also due to her ability to move easily from screen to stage with ease. She went from adorable performing child to lightly boiled dames to the kind of girls guys like to talk to as friends to a sweet "everyone's aunt" kind of woman to caring, though slig...

Family & Companions

David Tebet
Husband
Executive. Married October 26, 1947; divorced July 21, 1951.
Ranald MacDougall
Husband
Screenwriter. Married April 24, 1957 until his death in 1973.

Biography

A performer since age three, the effervescent Nanette Fabray managed to keep her career moving not only because of her ample talent, but also due to her ability to move easily from screen to stage with ease. She went from adorable performing child to lightly boiled dames to the kind of girls guys like to talk to as friends to a sweet "everyone's aunt" kind of woman to caring, though slightly overbearing mothers. Amazingly, Fabray also managed to continue singing as well as acting, although for at least half her life she was hearing-impaired and wore hearing aids. Nanette Fabray began singing in vaudeville as a toddler, billed as 'Baby Nanette'. By age six, she was performing an act with comedy star Ben Turpin. At age seven, she began her film career by appearing in numerous "Our Gang" comedy shorts. In the 1930s, Fabray was singing on radio and appearing in the declining vaudeville circuit. Warner Bros. put her back in films in her first adult role in "Elizabeth and Essex" (1939). Ironically, she shared the same real surname as her character, Margaret Fabares. After "A Child Is Born" (1940), Fabray realized a film career was not going to materialize, so she headed to Broadway, becoming one of the toasts of the theater during the 40s. Fabray made her debut in "Meet the People" (1940) and was featured in "Let's Face It" (1941), but she became a true Broadway star in 1947 playing opposite Phil Silvers in "High Button Shoes." In 1949, she won a Tony Award for her work in the play "Love Life." Finally, after she appeared in "Make a Wish" (1951-52), Hollywood beckoned again. Fabray co-starred in Vincente Minnelli's "The Band Wagon" (1953), in which she is probably best recalled for the "Triplets" production number with Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan. But musicals were starting to fade, and Fabray returned to New York. She would only make a handful of films in the decades to come, including playing Barbara Eden's hairdresser friend in "Harper Valley PTA" (1978). Instead, Fabray turned to the small screen where she became a regular mainstay on "Caesar's Hour" (NBC, 1954-56), Sid Caesar's follow-up to "Your Show of Shows" for which she won three Emmy Awards. In 1957, Fabray, divorced from entertainment industry executive David Tebet, married famed screenwriter-director Ranald MacDougall who created the "Westinghouse Playhouse Starring Nanette Fabray and Wendell Corey" (NBC, 1961). The short-lived series followed closely the outlines of its star's life--a Broadway star married to a Hollywood writer with two children. (Her character, Nan McGovern, even used Fabray's mother's maiden surname.) After the sitcom's demise, Fabray became a frequent guest star on comedy and variety programs, as well as occasionally playing a dramatic role. She was memorable as Mary Tyler Moore's mother in a few episodes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (CBS, 1972) and made frequent appearances on "The Carol Burnett Show" and "Love American Style." In 1979, she joined the cast of the CBS sitcom "One Day At a Time" as Bonnie Franklin's meddlesome mother. Still active in the 90s, Fabray made appearances on the ABC sitcom "Coach" as the mother of the character played by her real life niece, Shelley Fabares. Fabray retired following a final stage role in the play "The Bermuda Avenue Triangle" in 1997. Nanette Fabray died on February 22, 2018 at the age of 97.

Life Events

1923

Made her first professional appearance on the Vaudeville stage as 'Baby Nanette'

1926

Worked in vaudeville with Ben Turpin

1927

Made her film acting debut in the "Our Gang" comedy shorts

1939

Had her first adult role in feature films in "Elizabeth and Essex"

1940

Made her Broadway debut in "Meet The People"

1941

Starred on Broadway in "Let's Face It"

1949

Made TV debut on NBC's "The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre"

1953

Starred in the feature "The Band Wagon"; best remembered for the "Triplets" number with Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan

1954

Won three Emmy Awards for her work on the series "Caesar's Hour" (NBC)

1960

Received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

1961

Starred in first sitcom, "The Westinghouse Playhouse Starring Nanette Fabray and Wendell Corey" (NBC)

1966

Made TV-movie debut in "Fame Is the Name of the Game" (NBC)

1972

Landed a recurring role as Mary Tyler Moore's mother on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (CBS)

1978

Played Barbara Eden's sidekick in feature "Harper Valley PTA"

1979

Played the mother to Bonnie Franklin on "One Day at a Time" (CBS)

1987

Co-starred in the comedy feature "Personal Exemptions"

1987

Received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild

1990

Played the mother of her real-life niece Shelley Fabares' character on "Coach" (ABC)

1994

Cast in the comedy "Teresa's Tattoo"

2003

Was featured in the documentary "Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There"

Photo Collections

The Band Wagon - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's The Band Wagon (1953), directed by Vincente Minnelli, and starring Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, and Nanette Fabray.

Family

Raoul Bernard Fabares
Father
Lillian Fabares
Mother
Shelley Fabares
Niece
Actor, singer.
Jamie MacDougall
Son

Companions

David Tebet
Husband
Executive. Married October 26, 1947; divorced July 21, 1951.
Ranald MacDougall
Husband
Screenwriter. Married April 24, 1957 until his death in 1973.

Bibliography