Fran Drescher

Active - 1977 - 2019  |   Born - Sep 30, 1957 in Queens, New York, United States  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Fran Drescher became a household name via her long-running sitcom The Nanny, with a combination of romantic and slapstick comedy that led some to hail her as Lucille Ball's successor. Though she capitalized on playing a ditzy working-class gal from Queens, Drescher is known for her creativity and shrewdness. In addition to acting, she is a talented writer and producer.

Much of Drescher's comedy, especially that from her sitcom, is drawn from her life experiences. Like her character, Fran Fine, she was born and raised in Queens. She has had a lifelong interest in acting and studied drama in high school. She attended a year at Queens College and then attended cosmetology school to become a hairdresser. For a time, she had her own business. She made her film debut playing Connie in Saturday Night Fever (1977). Her next film, American Hot Wax (1978), provided Drescher with her first major role and though she would continue on to play supporting parts in numerous other films, it was not until she played a small but memorable part in Rob Reiner's hilarious mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap (1984) that she began making a name for herself. In addition to her film roles, she was also busy on television, guest starring in series and appearing in television films like Terror in the Towers. She played starring roles in three short-lived series, including Princesses. She and her husband Peter Marc Jacobson created The Nanny and it aired on CBS from 1993 to 1999. She not only starred in the show, but also wrote and produced it; Drescher received Emmy nominations for her work on the show. In 1996, she co-starred with Robin Williams in the Disney comedy Jack, while in 1997, she and Jacobson co-created the idea for the romantic comedy The Beautician and the Beast, in which she also starred. Drescher published her autobiography, Enter Whining, in 1996.

Drescher once again drew from her life experiences in the 2002 memoir Cancer Schmancer, which chronicled the actress's battle with uterine cancer, and formed the Cancer Schmancer Movement in 2007. The nonprofit is dedicated to educating women about cancer prevention and the importance of early detection (Drescher's cancer was initially misdiagnosed). With her ex-husband Peter Mark Jacobson, Drescher co-created the television series Happily Divorced (2011-2013), which mined the pair's experience with Jacobson coming out as gay after the end of their 21-year marriage. Drescher also contributed voice work to the Hotel Transylvania franchise and starred in the short-lived NBC series Indebted.

Movie Highlights

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Factsheet

  • Was a runner-up in the Miss New York Teenager pageant.
  • Made her feature-film debut in 1977's Saturday Night Fever, asking John Travolta's character, "Are you as good in bed as you are on the dance floor?"
  • Pitched her idea for The Nanny to CBS entertainment president Jeff Sagansky while sitting next to him on a flight to Paris.
  • Wrote about being sexually assaulted in her 1996 book Enter Whining; and about her battle with uterine cancer in the 2002 memoir Cancer Schmancer.
  • In 2007 founded the Cancer Schmancer Movement, a nonprofit dedicated to cancer prevention and early detection; cancer survivor Drescher's own cancer was initially misdiagnosed. 
  • Appeared on Oprah Winfrey in 2011 to discuss her relationship with ex-husband Peter Marc Jacobson, who came out as gay following the dissolution of their 21-year marriage.