Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Nanette Fabray dies at 97

Nanette Fabray on Nov. 8 1962.                        AP

Nanette Fabray on Nov. 8 1962. AP

The award-winning performer was known for her roles in productions such as "Caesar's Hour" and "The Band Wagon".

Fabray's son, Dr. Jamie MacDougall, told The Associated Press his mother died Thursday at her home in Palos Verdes Estates.

Undeterred by her physical challenges, Fabray became a successful musical theater actress in the 1940s, winning the 1949 Tony Award for best performance by a leading actress in a musical for her performance in "Love Life". 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".

As an ingenue, she appeared in the 1939 films "Essex and Elizabeth", "The Monroe Doctrine" and "A Child Is Born", credited as Nanette Fabares, but she never developed a substantial movie career.

During this time, Fabray was suffering from an undiagnosed hearing problem that affected her ability to perform. In the 1950s, she costarred with Sid Caesar in his follow-up to Your Show of Shows, another comedy program titled Caesar's Hour.

Fabray was a comedienne, actress, singer, dancer and humanitarian.

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Her television roles included playing Bonnie Franklin's mother in the hit 1980s sitcom "One Day at a Time", Mary Tyler Moore's mother on her namesake show and the mother of Shelley Fabares, her real-life niece, in the 1990s show, "Coach".

Nanette was also born in San Diego, California, but her parents moved to Los Angeles so their daughter could start her acting career at a young age.

Also during that time, Fabray appeared on many classic sitcoms and variety shows. She also began wearing a hearing aid and speaking publicly about her disability in her 30s.

Fabray also had another odd claim to fame: Her skin color was deemed the ideal tone for color television, and as a result, in the 1940s, she worked as a model for NBC's demonstration of color TV. (1978). She appeared in the 1981 indie "Amy", starred as an IRS investigator in the 1987 film "Personal Exemptions" and made her last bigscreen appearance in 1994's "Teresa's Tattoo". She won three Emmy awards during her two seasons on the show, from 1954 to 1956.

Fabray's second husband, screenwriter Ranald MacDougall, died in 1973.

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