Tuesday, 10 May 2022

A right Nancy

We have another centenary to celebrate today, dear reader - that of Anna Myrtle Swoyer, better known, of course as...

...the incomparable Miss Nancy Walker!

In the interestes of recycling, here's what I said about the great lady way back in 2009:

Although most people remember her for her 70s TV roles as the domineering mother in the Mary Tyler-Moore spin-off series Rhoda and as the housekeeper in MacMillan and Wife, she was in fact a ground-breaking artiste in the history of American musical theatre, working with luminaries such as Lucille Ball, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Phil Silvers, Jule Styne, Bert Lahr, Jackie Gleason, Jerome Robbins and Dick Van Dyke. Leonard Bernstein was an early fan. He created the role of Hildy in On The Town with Nancy in mind, and it is her version of I Can Cook Too! that all subsequent actresses in that role aspire to emulate.

Her chutzpah and comic timing led her to appear in numerous TV variety shows, with among others Carol Burnett and Tab Hunter, and eventually to her own (unsuccessful) show.

One of her last screen appearances was as the hilarious deaf mute maid in one of my favourite movies Murder By Death, with its all-star cast including Truman Capote, Alec Guinness, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Peter Sellers, Eileen Brennan and Elsa Lanchester. And a little-known fact is that Miss Walker directed the kitsch cult classic Village People film Can't Stop The Music...

A whirlwind, a firebrand and a truly talented all-rounder, I loved her.



Needless to say, her "Broadway Bombshell" LP I Hate Men holds pride of place in our collection here at Dolores Delargo Towers...

...and you can listen to it, in full, for free, over at the fantabulosa WMFU "Beware of the Blog" site!

All hail!

Nancy Walker (10 May 1922 - 25 May 1992)

6 comments:

  1. Loved her in general, but her part on Rhoda was perfect. A shame her own series didn't do well, as her own show was groundbreaking, having one of the first openly gay characters on a nightly sitcom here. I'd be remiss if I also didn't mention her fun portrayal on the Golden Girls in multi episodes, as Sophia's equally sharp tongued and witty sister, Angela. Her and Estelle Getty played off each other wonderfully.

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    1. As I said in the post "a truly talented all-rounder". Just utterly captivating, whatever she was in! Jx

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  2. I'd forgotten about Murder By Death. But never Nancy. We were just talking about her the other day... her name came up in the credits of a Carol Kane movie about a serial killer at a cheerleading camp. She was the associate director, or something like that. Adored that lady. She was so wonderful in Rhoda. Kizzes.

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    1. She was one of those multi-talented-yet-often-overlooked types, in a niche that included the likes of Hermione Gingold, Eve Arden or Elsa Lanchester. Simply wonderful! Jx

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  3. Yes, a great actress. When we talk about "props" we really mean the fellow-actors who support the others.And she was a wonderful prop.

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    1. I so agree, Dinah! Without her, how on earth would the otherwise quite bland MacMillan and Wife been so successful? She was certainly my fave character in that show when I was a kid.

      She was also the perfect comedy "foil" for the leads in Rhoda; I have no doubt her "Ida" was a major influence on the writers who went on to create Estelle Getty's "Sophia" in Golden Girls...

      Jx

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