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Nancy Walker Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (7)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 10 May 1922Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 25 March 1992Studio City, California, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameAnna Myrtle Swoyer
Height 4' 11" (1.5 m)

Mini Bio (1)

They say big things often come in small packages, and never was that saying more true than when sizing up the talents of that diminutive dynamo Nancy Walker. Born Anna Myrtle Smoyer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 10, 1922, she lived a born-in-a-trunk existence as the daughter of vaudevillian Dewey Barto (né Dewey Smoyer). At the time of his run of Broadway's "Hellzapoppin", he was part of the comedy team of Barto & Mann (George Mann). Her sister, Betty Lou Barto, also went on to have a musical career. Though she had designs on becoming a legit singer, it was hard for others to take Nancy seriously with her naturally aggressive manner backed up by this tiny frame. Comedy was definitely her forte.

Broadway legend George Abbott picked up on her innate comic abilities immediately and set her up as his blind date in the Broadway musical smash "Best Foot Forward" in 1941. The show, starring June Allyson, was a certifiable hit, and when MGM turned Best Foot Forward (1943) into a musical film, Nancy, as well as June, went right along with it. Nancy continued giving top support for MGM in the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney starrer Girl Crazy (1943) and in Broadway Rhythm (1944). Back on Broadway, Nancy all but stole the proceedings as the hoydenish cabbie Hildy Esterhazy, who pursues a sailor on leave, in "On the Town" (1944). After a brief first marriage, she met vocal coach David Craig during the 1948 run of "Look, Ma, I'm Dancing," when she was plagued by vocal problems. They married a few years later. When Nancy left the show, she was replaced by her sister Betty. Other musical plaudit came her way, including Tony nominations for the revue "Phoenix '55" and for her lead role in "Do Re Mi" with Phil Silvers.

Nancy experienced some tough, lean years in the late 1950s and 1960s until she found TV an accepting medium. She became popular all over again, and a household name to boot, as Rosie the waitress in a series of Bounty paper-towel commercials. At around the same time, she won a regular role as Mildred, the sardonic maid on McMillan & Wife (1971). Her prototypical wisecracking role, however, came as the outlandish Jewish mom Ida Morgenstern, mother of Valerie Harper's "Rhoda" character on Mary Tyler Moore (1970). When Harper spun off into her own series--Rhoda (1974)--interfering Ida was right alongside her still-unmarried daughter, wreaking havoc. Alas, nominated for eight Emmys and four Golden Globe Awards for her collective work on series TV, she never won. Her renewed popularity, however, led to a couple of TV star vehicles that plainly didn't suit her second-banana talents. Neither lasted very long. She eventually moved into stage and film directing. Nancy made her final regular TV-series appearance on the sitcom True Colors (1990), playing another of her long line of delightfully brash buttinskys. During the run of the show, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died just weeks before her 70th birthday in 1992.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

David Craig (29 January 1951 - 25 March 1992) (her death) (1 child)
Gar Moore (1 August 1948 - 8 June 1949) (divorced)

Trivia (7)

Received a Tony Award nomination in 1956 for lead Actress in the musical, 'Phoenix '55.'
Her first major Broadway role was as the Blind Date in "Best Foot Forward" (1941). She made her film debut repeating her stage role in the film version (Best Foot Forward (1943)).
Was twice nominated for Broadway's Best Actress (Musical) Tony Award for Actress in a Musical in 1956, for "Phoenix '55," and in 1961, for "Do Re Mi".
Met husband and vocal coach David Craig when she lost her voice during the run of the Broadway musical "Look Ma, I'm Dancing" in 1948.
When auditioning for "Best Foot Forward" on Broadway, George Abbott thought she was the actress Helen Walker auditioning and signed her up for a bit part. After she got the part, her talent was revealed and the part was rewritten into a starring role for her. She decided to keep the name "Walker."
Despite her enormous success as a comedienne, Walker was highly insecure and underwent years of therapy.
Appeared in multiple commercials as a spokesperson for Bounty Paper Towels as the lovable Rosie the Waitress in the 1970s and 1980s.

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