Nancy Walker Biography

Birthday: 1922-05-10
Place of Birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Height: 4' 11" (1.50 m)
Wiki Biography: 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 prototypal wisecracking role, however, came as the outlandish Jewish mom "Ida Morgenstern", mother to 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 Emmy 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 which 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.

Nancy WalkerPhotos & Pictures


TV Title Appeared As Year Genre
McMillan and Wife Mildred 1971 - 1977 Crime
The Nancy Walker Show 1976 Comedy
Blansky's Beauties Nancy Blansky 1977 Comedy
Movies Title Appeared As Year Genre
Best Foot Forward 1943 Musical, Comedy
Girl Crazy 1943 Comedy, Musical, Romance
Broadway Rhythm 1944 Family, Music
40 Carats 1973 Biography
Murder by Death 1976 Comedy, Mystery, Thriller