Award winning stage and screen actress Nanette Fabray died February 22 in her Palos Verdes Estates, California home at the age of 97. Son Jamie stated old age as the cause of death.

Beginning her entertainment career on the Vaudeville stage when she was only three years old, Fabray has spent nearly her entire life on stage and screen. More than just an actress, Fabray was a comedienne, singer, and dancer. In the 1953 film “The Band Wagon”, she starred along side Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, and Jack Buchanan.

The_Band_Wagon_(1953)_trailer_5By film trailer screenshot (MGM) – The Band Wagon trailer, Public Domain,

The California native made her Hollywood debut in 1939 as Mistress Margaret Radcliffe in “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex”. Her other roles include “The Band Wagon”, “Laramie”, 26 episodes of the “Westinghouse Playhouse”, “Burke’s Law”, the White Queen in “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, “The Girls from U.N.C.L.E.”, “Mary Tyler Moore”, “Love, American Style”, “Maude”, “Harper Valley P.T.A.”, “Love Boat”, 42 episodes of “One Day at a Time” as Grandma Romano, “Murder, She Wrote”, and “Coach”,

As herself, Fabray made nearly 100 appearances including guest performances on variety shows including numerous appearances with Sid Caesar, documentaries, award shows, and game shows including 237 episodes of “Hollywood Squares”.

She made her Broadway debut in 1940 in a performance of the musical “Meet the People”. Her other Broadway performances include the musical comedy “Let’s Face It”, “By Jupiter”, “My Dear Public”, “Jackpot”, “Bloomer Girl”, “High Button Shoes”, “Love Life”, “Arms and the Girl”, “Make a Wish”, “Mr. President” – where she won her Tony Award, and “No Hard Feelings”.

Her accomplishments include three Emmy Awards for her appearance on the “Caesar’s Hour”, two Donaldson Awards, a Tony Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, The President’s Distinguished Service Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, and The American Academy of Otolaryncology Public Service Award.

Fabray spoke at the Commencement Ceremony for Gallaudet University where she established the MacDougall Creative University Writing Award for students with hearing disabilities to explore careers in writing.

Off stage, Fabray served as an advocate for people with hearing disabilities – something she dealt with herself for over 30 years. She was among those who advocated for the use of sign language and closed captioning on television programs.

She was born Ruby Bernadette Nanette Fabares on October 27, 1920 in San Diego, California the daughter of a train conductor.

Predeceased by her second husband Ranald MacDougall, she is survived by her son Jamie and two grandchildren.


feature photo credit: By NBC Television – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain,