Gail Fisher

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Gail Fisher
Gail Fisher Mark Stewart Mannix 1970.JPG
Fisher and Mark Stewart (Mannix, 1970)
Born (1935-08-18)August 18, 1935
Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
Died December 2, 2000(2000-12-02) (aged 65)
Culver City, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1959–1990
Spouse(s) John Levy (1964-1972) (divorced) (2 children)
Robert A. Walker (1973-?) (divorced)[1]

Gail Fisher (August 18, 1935 – December 2, 2000) was an American actress who was one of the first black women to play substantive roles in American television.[2] She was best known for playing the role of secretary Peggy Fair on the television detective series Mannix from 1968 through 1975, a role for which she won two Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy Award; she was the first black woman to win either award. She also won an NAACP Image Award in 1969.[3]

Early years[edit]

The youngest of five children, Fisher was born in Orange, New Jersey.[3] Her father died when she was two years old, and she was raised by her mother, Ona Fisher, who supported her family with a home-operated hair-styling business while living in the Potter's Crossing neighborhood of Edison, New Jersey. She graduated from Metuchen High School in Metuchen, New Jersey. During her teenaged years, she was a cheerleader and entered several beauty contests, winning the titles of Miss Transit, Miss Black New Jersey, and Miss Press Photographer.[4][5]

In a contest sponsored by Coca-Cola, Fisher won the opportunity to spend two years studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As a student of acting in New York City, she worked with Lee Strasberg [6] and became a member of the Repertory Theater at Lincoln Center, where she worked with Elia Kazan and Herbert Blau.[4][5] As a young woman, she also worked as a model.[5]

Television[edit]

Fisher made her first television appearance in 1960 at age 25, appearing in the NTA Film Network program The Play of the Week.[2] Also during the early 1960s, she appeared in a television commercial for All laundry detergent, which she said made her "the first black female—no, make that black, period—to make a national TV commercial, on camera, with lines."[4] In 1965, Herbert Blau cast her in a theatrical production of Danton's Death.[4]

She first appeared in Mannix during the second season, when Mannix left the detective firm Intertect and set up shop as a private investigator. She became the second African American woman after Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek to show prominently on weekly television. In 1968, she made guest appearances on the TV series My Three Sons, Love, American Style, and Room 222.[2] In 1970, her work on Mannix was honored when she received the Emmy Award for outstanding performance by an actress in a dramatic supporting role, becoming the first African American woman to do so. In 1971 Fisher became the first African American woman to win a Golden Globe, and won her second in 1973. After Mannix was canceled in 1975, she appeared on television at an average of once a year, guest starring on popular shows like Fantasy Island, Love Boat, Knight Rider, General Hospital, The White Shadow and more.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Fisher was married and divorced twice. She had two daughters, Samara and Jole, from her 1964 marriage to John Levy.[4] Her marriage to Wali Muhammad (Walter Youngblood), famed cornerman to Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali, ended in divorce when he changed religions. Wali was also an assistant minister to Malcolm X at Nation of Islam Mosque No. 7.[7][8][9]

Jet magazine reported in its July 26, 1973 issue that she also was married to Robert A. Walker, a businessman from Los Angeles.[10]

Death[edit]

Fisher died in Los Angeles in 2000, aged 65, reportedly from renal failure due to drug use.[4][note 1][3] Twelve hours after Gail Fisher died, her brother Clifton died from heart failure.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1959 The Play of the Week Joyce Lane Episode: "Simply Heavenly"
1960 The Play of the Week N/A Episode: "Climate of Eden"
1960 The New Girl in the Office "The New Girl in the Office" Government-sponsored short film about racial integration in the workplace
1962 The Defenders The Singer Episode: "Grandma TNT"
1963 The Doctors Diane 5 episodes
1967 He & She Helen Episode: "One of Our Firemen is Missing"
1967 The Second Hundred Years Young Matron Episode: "Luke's First Christmas"
1968 My Three Sons Carla Episode: "Gossip, Incorporated"
1968–1975 Mannix Peggy Fair 147 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1972, 1974)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1971–1973)
1969 Love, American Style Mercy Episode: "Love and the Hustler"
1970 Insight Mrs. Carter Episode: "The Incident on Danker Street"
1971 Room 222 Diana Brown Episode: "Welcome Back, Miss Brown"
1971 Love, American Style Penny Episode: "Love and the Baby"
1972 Every Man Need One Pauline Kramer Television movie
1975 Medical Center Bonnie Horne Episode: "Street Girl"
1979 Fantasy Island Dr. Frantz Episode: "Hit Man/The Swimmer"
1982 General Hospital Judge Heller 5 episodes
1983 Knight Rider Thelma Episode: "Short Notice"
1985 Hotel Fran Willis Episode: "Hearts and Minds"
1986 He's the Mayor Lila Episode: "Take My Father Please"
1987 Mankillers Joan Hanson Television movie
1990 Donor Secretary Television movie

Awards and honors[edit]

Year Result Award Category Television series
1970 Won Emmy Awards Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama Mannix
1971 Nominated Emmy Awards Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama Mannix
1972 Nominated Emmy Awards Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama Mannix
1973 Nominated Emmy Awards Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama Mannix
1971 Won Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actress - Television Series Mannix
1972 Nominated Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actress - Television Series Mannix
1973 Won Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Television Series Drama Mannix
1974 Nominated Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actress - Television Series Mannix

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The reference book African Americans in the Performing Arts says that Fisher died of lung cancer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.blackpast.org/aah/fisher-gail-1935-2000
  2. ^ a b c d "Gail Fisher". African American Registry. Archived from the original on October 4, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2009. The article cites Jet as its source.
  3. ^ a b c Otfinoski, Steven (2014). African Americans in the Performing Arts. Infobase Publishing. pp. 68–69. ISBN 9781438107769. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Lawrence Van Gelder, "Gail Fisher, 65, TV Actress Who Won Emmy for 'Mannix'", The New York Times, February 20, 2001
  5. ^ a b c Laurie Jarmon (1995), Gail Fisher, in Notable Black American Women, Jessie Carney Smith, editor. ISBN 0-8103-9177-5. Pages 223-224.
  6. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
  7. ^ "SecondsOut Boxing News - Thomas Hauser - Mike Tyson and Other Notes". Secondsout.com. 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  8. ^ http://www.honoryou.com/programs/PDF/120121wm.pdf
  9. ^ Allah, The (2012-01-22). "The Allah Team™: Wali Mohammed (R.I.P.)". Allahteam.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  10. ^ "Mannix Girl Orders Spouse To Stay Away From Her". Jet. July 26, 1973. p. 57. Retrieved 14 June 2017.

External links[edit]