The Nanny was a favorite ’90s sitcom – and one packed with surprisingly famous guest stars.
If you turned on your television from 1993-1999, chances are you’ll remember hearing Fran Drescher’s nasal voice emanating from the screen as she strutted around in a series of loud designer outfits in The Nanny. A modern I Love Lucy, with a little Sound of Music thrown in, Drescher played Fran Fine, a New York Jewish woman who went from working in a bridal shop in Queens to becoming the eccentric nanny of a widowed Broadway producer and his three children on Park Avenue.
Big hair, flashy outfits, and screams of, “Miss FINE!” defined a generation of ‘90s comedy. As the series progressed and got more and more popular, a series of guest stars began popping up all over the place. From the very first season when established stars like Dan Aykroyd appeared as a repairman, to the later seasons when a pre-Daily Show Jon Stewart played Fran’s new boyfriend, there was no shortage of star power contributing to the madcap sit-com. Here are 10 stars you probably forgot appeared on The Nanny.
Long before he would star in Westworld, and just before he would appear in The Notebook and the X-Men movies as Cyclops, James Marsden appeared as Eddie, the young suitor of Mr. Sheffield’s oldest child Maggie. Maxwell had a difficult time accepting his daughter was old enough to date, and so enlisted Miss Fine to be their chaperone on dates.
With floppy bangs that hung in his face and a ready smile, Eddie was a somewhat dim-witted but likable boyfriend for Maggie, despite her father’s disapproval. Fran highly resented the fact that she needed to be a chaperone, a role known in Yiddish circles as a “nuchslep”, or sad pathetic adult that has nothing better to do than tag along and watch youngsters have fun.
Do you remember when Jon Stewart used to act? Maybe not, since the long-running host of the Daily Show has been providing satirical commentary on political news for over almost two decades now. But back in the mid ‘90s, he starred in an episode of The Nanny called Kissing Cousins which is as raucous as it sounds.
Fran Fine thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she meets a wealthy doctor at a friend’s wedding. He’s single, handsome, and Jewish, which means he’s perfect for her (and her nagging mother). Though they seem ideally suited, their match is too good to be true; at the end of the episode they find out they’re actually related.
The road to love was often bumpy for the fabulous Fran Fine, but that didn’t stop her from putting on her chicest walking shoes. While out on a date with her friend Val, busy complaining that all men really want her for are her looks, she meets a man suspiciously wearing sunglasses indoors. It’s none other than Jason Alexander, who happens to be blind, and therefore doesn’t care about how she looks.
Though they go on several dates, she suspiciously keeps bringing up her boss, Mr. Sheffield, making her date think she’s not completely invested in their future. Things take a turn for the worst when she throws the ball for his guide dog into oncoming traffic… while he’s still attached to it.
Is it possible to devote an entire episode to a really bad pun? Season six of The Nanny thought so when they cast real-life rapper Coolio as a version of himself in the episode Homie-Work. Maxwell is looking for a new star for his latest play, but it needs to be someone who will get a younger crowd attending Broadway.
Coolio plays a nerdy, socially awkward “gift wrapper” at a department store that Fran is shopping at. She decides with a little polish, she can turn this “wrapper” into a “rapper” to save Mr. Sheffield’s new rap musical. As expected, Coolio performs some numbers and makes a few more horrible puns to round out the episode.
A longtime personal friend of Fran Drescher’s since they starred together in the screwball comedy Doctor Detroit, Dan Aykroyd makes a guest appearance as a ridiculous repairman in the first season of the series when the Sheffield residence has a problem with its refrigerator.
While he’s doing his repairs, Fran is in charge of coaxing Mr. Sheffield’s youngest daughter into going on a playdate with a wealthy Broadway critic. The only problem is, she hates his guts, and while on a playdate in the park, an altercation threatens to jeopardize all of Maxwell’s hard work. Luckily the fridge (and the friendship) get repaired before any more serious damage can be done.
Could you really have a sit-com about a fast-talking, loudly dressed Jewish woman and not include Bette Midler? Though Fran Fine was obsessed with Barbara Streisand on the show, Babs surprisingly never made an appearance, which left plenty of room for the Divine Miss M to take her place as resident diva.
Bette Midler plays herself, the auctioneer at a charity event putting everything from antique chests to “antique chests” up for sale. The Divine Miss M’s company is up for auction on a date, as is the fabulous Miss Fine’s. While the pair seem to get along at first, they get wildly competitive as the episode progressed, leading to some hilarious slapstick comedy.
By the time Roseanne went off the air in the mid-‘90s, it had taken a strange turn. The Connors were no longer living like working-class Americans, but instead had won the lottery, prompting Roseanne to lapse into a life of luxury and privilege. Her new character development wasn’t unlike the role she played on The Nanny, guest starring as Fran’s cousin, Sheila.
Sheila comes into Fran’s life just when she’s trying to get Mr. Sheffield to seriously commit to a romantic relationship. He’s given Fran the option of redecorating the kitchen to give himself more time, and Sheila comes to facilitate the process, giving Fran pearls of relationship wisdom as well as a strange sense of interior design.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR & ROSIE O’DONNELL
When Elizabeth Taylor visits the Sheffield residence to speak with Maxwell about being involved in his latest production on Broadway, she instructs Fran Fine to be the courier of her incredibly expensive black pearl necklace. While en route with the pearls, Fran befriends a snarky cabbie named Cozette (Rosie O’Donnell) who needs as much relationship advice as she needs a chill pill.
When Cozette is forced to slam on her breaks, Fran smacks her head so hard against the windshield that she loses her memory (and the pearls). When she sees the fabulous Park Avenue house she lives in with three lovely children, she assumes she must be married to Mr. Sheffield.
In the very first episode of The Nanny, Fran Fine’s been kicked out of the wedding store she ran with her fiance Danny. Deciding to test her luck uptown, she takes a taxi to Park Avenue where she attempts to sell Shades of the Orient cosmetics to the wealthy housewives. Fortunately for her, she gets mistaken for the new nanny looking after Maxwell’s three children, and a sit-com is born.
The elusive Danny does make an appearance later on in the series, and he’s just as bone-headed as you’d expect. But it isn’t until the last season that Fran catches up with the woman he dumped her for, Heather Biblow (Pamela Anderson) who has a part on a daytime soap Fran loves to watch.
ROBERT VAUGHN AND JOAN COLLINS
The Sheffield residence is turned upside down when Maxwell’s estranged father comes to New York City for a visit. The senior Sheffield (played by Robert Vaughn) and his son haven’t gotten along since he left his mother and ran off with his secretary, played by the delightful Joan Collins in a role not dissimilar to her character in Dynasty (there are several references to it).
Fran tries to instill a sense of normalcy in the household, but how can she when the Sheffields spend all their time fighting, and the Joan Collins is giving Fran advice on how to steal Maxwell’s heart out from under his business partner, CC Babcock.
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