The Nanny was a beloved sitcom that viewers couldn’t get enough of. From 1993 to 1999, Fran Drescher starred on the hilarious show as Fran Fine, a 30-something-year-old woman from Queens who becomes a live-in nanny for the British Broadway producer, Maxwell Sheffield. Despite the fact that the show hasn’t aired in over 20 years, reruns have kept the public’s interest. If you’re one of those who loves the show as much as we do, you’ll love to read about some behind-the-scenes facts you didn’t know about!
Chester Was Fran’s Real Dog
C.C.’s dog’s full name was Chester Drescher, which makes sense. This explains why he always preferred Fran over C.C., she was his real-life mom. “He was fiercely devoted to Fran and they would make me do things like pick him up or come near him, and he would try to bite me,” Lauren Lane, who played C.C., explained in an interview. For this reason, the writers wrote the script so Chester would hate C.C. and love Fran “because that was the way it was in real life.”
Fran Met A Network Executive On A Flight
Fran had small roles in big movies like Saturday Night Fever, but she was still unknown when she pitched her sitcom to CBS. The reason she had the opportunity in the first place was due to the fact that she used her frequent-flier miles to get a first-class ticket on a flight to France. That’s when she ran into the president of CBS. After the 9.5 hour flight, the executive said that Fran and her then-husband and Nanny co-creator, Peter Marc Jacobson, should pitch the show officially to the network’s development department when they would get back to Los Angeles.
Small Age Gap
The actresses who played Sylvia and Yetta had a smaller age gap than viewers realized. The actresses were just five years apart! This is despite the fact that Yetta was meant to play Sylvia’s mother, who was Fran’s mother on the show. Ann Morgan Gullibert, who plated Yetta, was just five years older than Renee Taylor, who played Sylvia. Things turned out well at the end of the day, of course. Just look at how well the show did!
Fran Drescher, who is Jewish in real life, played a Jewish woman in the show. However, some sponsors, as well as some CBS executives, were worried that she was acting “too Jewish” which would hurt the show and its performance. They thought of making the character Italian instead, but Fran refused to change it. She believed that because she was Jewish in real life, her character, Fran Fine, was superior as a Jewish woman since it was based on reality. This also explains why the family she worked for was British. An executive producer explained: “The conclusion we came to was that if the family Fran worked for was British, she wouldn’t come across as Jewish so much as the American you were rooting for. The idea was to make her the American girl who happens to be Jewish rather than the Jewish girl working for the WASPs.”
On-Screen And Off-Screen Family
A lot of the characters on the show were named after people in Fran’s off-screen life. One example is her parents. Sylvia and Morty are Fran’s parents’ names in the show as well as in real life. In fact, her parents even made cameos on the show! They appeared on the show as Fran’s aunt and uncle. Fran was no stranger to mixing family with work. As we’ve mentioned, it was her and her husband’s idea to create the sitcom in the first place.
C.C.’s full name was never mentioned in the show. Until the very last episode, that is. Throughout the show, the character was simply called by her nickname, C.C. and no one thought too much of it. However, as the seasons progressed, fans grew curious. But it wasn’t until the last episode of the entire series that C.C.’s name was finally revealed. It turns out that her full name was Chastity Claire Babcock.
Not Meant To Be
As it turns out, Mr. Sheffield and Miss Fine were not supposed to end up together! Marc Jacobson said that the couple wasn’t meant to get together at all. The whole will-they-won’t-they dynamic was such a big part of the show that the writers and producers didn’t want to let go of it lest they lose viewers. However, ratings began to fall at one point and CBS executives insisted the couple get married so the ratings go back up.
Renee Taylor’s doctor sent a letter to set requesting that the actress wouldn’t eat too much on set. The reason this came to be is that Renee was gaining too much weight playing the character of Sylvia. Since the character had a hearty appetite, Renee ended up eating a lot, leading to her gaining weight. In an interview, Renee said, “My doctor said that I could not eat on the show, and it was a real sacrifice”.
Elizabeth Taylor’s Jewels
In an interview in 2012, Renee Taylor spoke about her favorite episode of the show. It was the episode “Where’s The Pearls?” that features a cameo by none other than Elizabeth Taylor. She said it was a fun episode to shoot. But it wasn’t all fun and games. Elizabeth was not ready to let her co-stars wear her jewelry. On set, she had been wearing a rather sizable ring, but when Renee asked her if she could try it on, Elizabeth said no and slapped her hand away.
Niles Isn’t Actually British
It turns out that Daniel Davis is not British! He just has a super smooth English accent that fooled everyone. Daniel is originally from Arkansas and his accent was so good that many people watching the show were convinced it was real. In fact, there were viewers who wrote to the actor suggesting that he teach Charles Shaughnessy, who played Maxwell Sheffield, how to improve his accent. Funny enough, Charles was actually born in London and is British!
Guest Stars – Twice
Throughout the years, the show had many, many celebrity guest stars on the show. From Elton John to Elizabeth Taylor and Jay Leno, there was no shortage of exciting cameos happening. In fact, it turns out that Whoopi Goldberg, Coolio, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rosie O’Donnel even appeared on the show more than once! They all appeared on the show as guest stars twice: once as a character and once as themselves.
First Name Only
Have you ever noticed something somewhat peculiar about Niles throughout the show? It turns out we didn’t either! A small, almost insignificant detail went along practically unnoticed by fans. However, once this fact was pointed out, it’s hard to believe everyone missed it. Despite the fact that all the main characters on the show had full names – a first and last name – there was one character that didn’t get the luxury of a family name: Niles.
The Turkish Version
As The Nanny made waves in the entertainment industry throughout its run, there were companies all over the world itching to achieve the same level of success with their own projects. In fact, other networks even went so far as to acquire the rights to making their own version of the show! In 2000, a Turkish version of The Nanny came out. It didn’t have the same name, however. It was named Dadi.
A Famous Cameo
As we’ve mentioned, there were plenty of famous celebrities making cameos on The Nanny. One of them happened to be the one and only, Donald Trump. In 1996, he appeared on the show and wasn’t happy when he saw he would be referred to as a ‘millionaire’ in the script. “We got a note from his people that said, ‘Mr. Trump is not a millionaire. He’s a billionaire, and he would like you to change the line,'” Fran Drescher said in an interview in 2017. Instead of agreeing to the demand, Fran had the line changed to ‘zillionaire’. “My now-gay-ex-husband thought that was such an amazing request that he actually kept that note and framed it, never seeing in the future what was to come,” Fran said, adding that Jacobson still had the letter hanging in his office.
Close On And Off Screen
Renée Taylor is the actress who played Sylvia Fine, Fran’s TV mother who always gave unsolicited advice and looked for snacks regularly. The TV mother-daughter duo has stayed very close since the show ended. They make regular appearances on Fran’s Instagram. In 2019, Renée said in an interview that she and Fran still spend a lot of time together. I see Fran all the time,” she said. “I was just at a Cancer Schmancer charity thing for her.”
Before Jon Stewart became famous for being a host of The Daily Show, he appeared in an episode of The Nanny named “Kissing Cousins”. In the show, he and Fran briefly dated before finding out they were cousins. In an interview in 2017, Fran said she loved working with Jon and thought he was “really cute”. Still, she made no moves seeing as he was married. She said, “You know, I would have gone for him in a New York minute, but I don’t go after anybody’s man—’cause you have to narrow the pool somehow”.
Staying In Character
Renée Taylor was quite the actress to work with. One day on set, she was bored in between takes. So, she decided she would stay in character and keep going as the pushy and loud mother. She’s said she remembers picking at her co-stars’ food on their plates and, “I just started eating from everybody’s plates. Somebody said, ‘Hey, let’s use that,’ and it became a running thing.” It’s funny to think how much that brings to the show – and it was coincidental!
Unlucky In Love
Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson created the show together. Well, they also happened to be high school sweethearts who were married throughout the production of the show. In 1999, however, the two divorced. Soon after, Peter came out as gay. Just like her on-screen character, Fran seemed to be having trouble in her love life. Later on, Fran went on to marry Shiva Ayyadurai, but the two parted ways in 2016.
When The Nanny had its pilot episode tested remarkably high, CBS had high hopes for the show overall. At the end of the day, television comes down to numbers and profits, just like any other business. After the show struggled with its ratings in the first season, the network seriously considered canceling it. CBS’s president at the time, Jeff Sagansky, still believed in the show, though, and fought for it to stay on the air. “At all those affiliate meetings, [Sagansky] used to say, ‘Stick by The Nanny,’” co-creator Peter Marc Jacobson said, “He knew it was something special.”
A Fake Audience
Lots of sitcoms tend to be taped in front of live studio audiences to get a genuine laugh track. However, Fran Drescher actually had a scary experience with stalkers. So, she was against having the public on set every day. The solution was hiring actors to create an audience and make sure they would get that flawless laugh track that marks a good sitcom. We’re just glad it all worked out in the end.
The Reason It Was Canceled
Fran Drescher believes her character’s romance with Maxwell Sheffield is what turned viewers off, ultimately leading to the end of the hit series. After spending most of the series having an employee-employer relationship, Frane Fine and Maxwell Sheffield got married in the fifth season. This, of course, changed the entire dynamic of the show. “This romance ultimately led to the demise of the show,” Fran said in an interview. “When a show is built around a love that can’t happen, you have to keep it that way. … As much as you want the people to get together, as soon as they do, people start tuning out.”
We’re sure that the male audience of the show thoroughly enjoyed this particular cameo when it happened. Yes, the one and only Pamela Anderson was another celebrity to make an appearance on the hit sitcom. She played the new wife of Fran’s ex-fiance, Danny. It’s quite clear that she did a fantastic job playing Fran’s nemesis. The episode is a whirlwind, with Fran flying to Hollywood to see Pamela’s character play in a popular soap opera, only to have things take an unexpected turn all of a sudden.
No detail in this show is a coincidence, that’s for sure. Every little thing was methodically thought out and planned – even the episode titles. Yes, many of the episode titles were all puns! They were puns on all kinds of pop culture references, like song titles or musicals. For instance, there was “My Fair Nanny”, “Smoke Gets In Your Lies”, “An Affair to Dismember”, “A Fine Family Feud” and “The Whine Cellar”.
As the show was being developed, the Sheffield family only consisted of two children: Brighton and Grace. However, the network wanted an older daughter added. This way, she would be able to be mentored by Fran throughout the series. It turned out to be a great decision! Maggie’s character was created, and as we all know now, she and Fran developed a great friendship that viewers absolutely adored.
In the fifth season of the show, Lauren Lane and Rachel Chagall got pregnant. Unlike other sitcoms that simply hid the pregnant actresses behind props or had them sitting all the time, the producers made no attempt to hide or explain the growing bellies. Only in one episode, C.C. made a reference to Elaine on Seinfeld who was hidden by props when she was pregnant. While she was speaking, she jokingly hid herself with props.