The Nanny was one of the most popular television sitcoms of the 1990s. The show, which ran for six years, revolved around a bridal consultant who became a nanny after being hired by a rich British widower to look after his three children. The Nanny became so popular that Nanny dolls started featuring regularly in toy stores.
The Nanny Doll pic.twitter.com/5ffncwDfCp
— Jonathan Brisby (@JonathanBrisby) February 3, 2015
Fran Drescher played the role of the nanny in the show, which she also co-produced, along with Peter Marc Jacobson. The story of how The Nanny came to be is an interesting one. Fran had always wanted to act in her own show, so when the New Yorker spotted the head of the CBS network traveling on a plane that she had just boarded, Fran immediately approached the bigwig and proceeded to charm him with her ideas. Later, Fran followed up with the CBS executive to remind him of their conversation and to see what she could do to turn her dream into reality, and this is how The Nanny got to see the light of the day.
— Aston Grays (@AstonGrays) May 29, 2016
The CBS head was ultimately glad that he gave Fran Drescher the opportunity to bend his ear on that plane trip, as the resulting show The Nanny went on to become a super-hilarious sitcom that never ceased to be funny. And all the due credit goes to the fine acting by Fran Drescher, Charles Shaughnessy, Lauren Lane, Daniel Davis, Renee Taylor, and especially Ann Morgan Guilbert, who died in Los Angeles last week at the age of 87, due to cancer. Guilbert, a veteran of The Dick Van Dyke Show, played the role of Fran Drescher’s Grandma Yetta on The Nanny and passed away on June 14, 2016.
After her death, Dick Van Dyke himself posted a throwback video of himself and the former star of The Nanny, Ann Morgan Guilbert, from 1966.
The world is full of comedians, but there has always been a scarcity of what they used to call “straight men”… https://t.co/C0iPNr98pb
— Dick Van Dyke (@iammrvandy) June 17, 2016
The Wrap reports that the veteran actress, who had been working in popular sitcoms since the 60s, shared a strong bond with Fran Drescher just like her onscreen persona.
According to News Australia, Fran paid tribute to her on-screen grandmother by tweeting about the late actress’s unending vivacity and a terrific sense of humor.
“Such a great actress! I thank you Annie. Thank you for all the laughs! May you be cracking them up in heaven!”
“Annie we’ll miss you!”
After hearing the sad news of Ann Morgan Guilbert’s death, Fran Drescher posted a set of photos on Instagram showing Guilbert and her on-screen fiancé, played by the late music legend Ray Charles, who passed away in June 2004.
“When I invited Ray Charles to join the Nanny cast as Grandma Yetta’s fiancé and he said yes, well we were all beyond thrilled.”
Another reason that The Nanny’s cast members gelled so well with each other was that many of them were Fran’s friends or family members. Additionally, Fran had named some of the characters after her actual family members. For example, in real life, Sylvia, Morty, and Nadine are the names of Fran’s mother, father, and sister, so Fran went on to name her on-screen family members by the same names.
In fact, Fran’s real life father featured on The Nanny several times, playing a few cameo roles as Fran’s father and uncle. Fran even featured her own Pomeranian dog in The Nanny. According to Pop Rewind, the dog called Chester that belonged to the character CC Babcock was, in fact, Fran’s own dog.
— Imène פראן אימן (@PetiteCoquettee) June 3, 2016
That explains why Chester was so fond of Fran’s character on the show, an ongoing joke that defined the dog’s appearances on The Nanny. Additionally, The Nanny featured dedicated actors like Lauren Lane, whose pregnancy did not stop her from attending the shooting for the show, another ongoing joke which that Lane’s onscreen character CC Babcock hiding behind large and oftentimes awkward props in order to hide her growing belly.
The Nanny’s popularity was so high that fans tried hard to be amongst the live audience. However, Fran prohibited live audiences because she was haunted by an earlier horrific incident when two armed men had raped the actress and her friend after breaking into her house. According to News Australia, a number of part-time actors provided the background laughter, which was later added in post-production.
And even though The Nanny was popular, it had its share of problems. According to News Australia, UK fans often complained about the unbelievable accent of Mr. Sheffield, who was a British character on the show. What’s interesting is that fans commented that Charles Shaunessey, who played Mr. Sheffield, should take accent tips from Daniel Davis, who played another British character, Niles. The twist is that Charles Shaunessey is actually British, hence his accent was genuine, while Daniel Davis was American.
It was disappointing for fans of The Nanny to learn that Madeline Zima, who played the youngest Sheffield child Gracie, never enjoyed working for the show, as Zima felt that the children were used as props while senior actors enjoyed the spotlight.
— Camille espagnol (@CamilleEspagnol) February 6, 2016
Rest in peace, Ann Morgan Guilbert.
[Photos by Peter Kramer, Sebastian Artz, Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images]