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Nanette Fabray

Nanette Fabray

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Also Known As: Nanette Ruby Bernadette Fabares, Ruby Bernadette Nanette Fabares, Nanette Fabares Died:
Born: October 27, 1920 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: San Diego, California, USA Profession: actor, singer, vaudevillian

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A performer since age three, the effervescent Nanette Fabray has 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 has also managed to continue singing as well as acting, although for at least half her life she has been hearing-impaired and wears hearing aids. 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...

A performer since age three, the effervescent Nanette Fabray has 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 has also managed to continue singing as well as acting, although for at least half her life she has been hearing-impaired and wears hearing aids.

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 "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 musical 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.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Teresa's Tattoo (1994)
2.
 That's Entertainment! III (1994) Song Performer
3.
 Amy (1981) Malvina
4.
 Man In The Santa Claus Suit, The (1979) Dora Dayton
5.
 Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978) Alice Finely
6.
 Couple Takes a Wife, The (1972) Marion Randolph
7.
 Magic Carpet (1972) Virginia Wolfe
9.
 The Happy Ending (1969) Agnes
10.
 The Subterraneans (1960) Society woman
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1923:
Made first profesional appearance in vaudeville as 'Baby Nanette'
1926:
Worked in vaudeville with Ben Turpin
1927:
Made film acting debut in "Our Gang" comedy shorts
1939:
Had first adult role in feature films in "Elizabeth and Essex"
1940:
Made 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 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 mother to Bonnie Franklin on "One Day at a Time" (CBS)
1987:
Received Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild
1987:
Co-starred in the comedy feature "Personal Exemptions"
1990:
Played the mother of her real-life niece Shelley Fabares' character on "Coach" (ABC)
1994:
Cast in the comedy "Teresa's Tattoo"
2003:
Featured in the documentary "Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Los Angeles City College: Los Angeles , California -
Max Reinhardt School of the Theatre: Los Angeles , California -
The Juilliard Conservatory of Music: New York , New York -

Companions close complete companion listing

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

Family close complete family listing

father:
Raoul Bernard Fabares.
mother:
Lillian Fabares.
niece:
Shelley Fabares. Actor, singer.
son:
Jamie MacDougall.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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