Fran Drescher, star of ’90s sitcom The Nanny, came to Hollywood as a girl from Queens, New York, with talent, determination and a signature voice. The new REELZ tell-all doc Fran Drescher: In My Own Words reveals the sitcom might have never happened if Drescher had not spent her savings on a last-minute trip to Europe.
“I had just enough for one first-class ticket and who walks on the plane but the president of CBS, Jeff Sagansky,” Drescher recalls. “I said ‘Jeff’ and he said ‘Fran.’ I thought, ‘Thank you Lord’ and I ran into the bathroom to put some makeup on.”
Fran’s mom, Sylvia Drescher, adds: “She had him trapped in first-class. Where was he going to go, to coach?”
The chance encounter between the budding star and the studio head made television history and Drescher a superstar.
“I said, ‘What do you think about a spin on The Sound of Music, only instead of Julie Andrews, I come to the door… Fran Drescher as the ’Nanny from Hell,’ and Jeff said, ‘Sold.’ And that was the beginning of The Nanny,” says Drescher.
The Nanny star says she always knew she wanted to be an actor. Finding a kindred spirit in teenage soulmate Peter Jacobson, the two dedicated themselves to theater and then film and television, falling in love along the way. Early parts in films like Saturday Night Fever saw her move from New York to L.A. where she and Peter got married.
Years later, while the couple was in therapy, Peter revealed that he was gay, severing their long-time relationship as colleagues and partners.
After six seasons on The Nanny, Drescher learned that she had Stage I uterine cancer in 2000. The diagnosis gave her a new mission, a non-profit she founded called Cancer SCHMANCER, to teach people how to avoid cancer and support survivors.
How did Drescher conquer her illness? Did Jacobson ever come back into her life?
For more, watch Fran Drescher: In My Own Words on REELZ on Sunday, August 26, at 10 p.m. ET.
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