Nanette Fabray, Tony and Emmy Award victor, dead at 97

Emmy Winner and One Day at a Time Grandma Nanette Fabray Dead at 97

"I think every amusing thing you see on television today was taken from the Caesar shows", Fabray said in a 2004 interview with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation. In 1955, she was hospitalized for nearly two weeks after being knocked unconscious by a falling pipe backstage during a broadcast. She learned to tap dance, which she said was always her primary love. Her first movie role was as a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth I (Bette Davis) in "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" (1939). She changed the spelling of her surname after too many public mispronunciations.

Fabray's stage successes were many and spanned decades.

In the MGM classic The Band Wagon (1953), an energetic Fabray sang "That's Entertainment" and "Louisiana Hayride" and appeared in highchairs with Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan in a clever "Triplets" number.

Born Ruby Bernadette Nanette Fabares, the actress later adapted her name for the stage.

Ms. Fabray launched her career at age 3 as vaudeville's singing-dancing Baby Nanette. She was the youngest of three children of Raul Fabares, who worked for Southern Pacific Railroad, and his wife Lily. Ms. Fabray recalled that her other childhood job was ironing lodgers' shirts.

In her 20s, Fabray was diagnosed with hereditary hearing loss. She left the show in 1943 to take a small replacement role in Rodgers and Hart's "By Jupiter". She received great acclaim acting opposite Sid Caesar on his sketch comedy show "Caesar's Hour".

After moving to New York City at 18, she performed in Broadway musical comedies, appeared on live television dramas and had a guest spot on Caesar's "Your Show of Shows". Two years later she married one of the show's publicists, David Tebet. She later married Hollywood screenwriter Ranald MacDougall, who died in 1973.

Miss Fabray is survived by a son and grandchildren.

Fabray won three Emmys for her two years of work with Caesar. Her first credited appearance was on "The Chevrolet Tele-Theater" in 1949, but she had already been involved in demonstrations of the new medium. She starred in her own 1961 sitcom The Nanette Fabray Show (aka Yes, Yes Nanette).

Photo Ms. Fabray in 1986. On the 1990s ABC sitcom "Coach", Fabray portrayed the mom of a character played by Shelley Fabares, her real-life niece. 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".

Ms. Fabray continued to do stage work (in 2007 she appeared in "The Damsel Dialogues" in Sherman Oaks, Calif.), but said a couple of times that live television was her first love.

"Sid and I never got over the fact that we were both brutalized by that one bad incident", she said.

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