Fran Fine was a sexy, sassy spitfire whose unconventional wisdom and blunt outlook on life touched the hearts and minds of all those around her—whether they wanted to be touched or not.
In the series opener of the long-running sitcom hit The Nanny, Fran lost her job at the bridal shop that her boyfriend owned, and as if that weren’t bad enough, that very boyfriend also dumped her. When she took a job selling cosmetics door to door, she happened upon the upscale residence of new widower Maxwell Sheffield. Always a good (and uniquely-pitched) talker, Fran acquired the available nanny position for Sheffield’s three children, despite the fact her qualifications were nil.
Maxwell was sophisticated and handsome, but the father of three spent too much time on the job (he was a Broadway theater producer), a fact that Nanny Fine knew all too well. In an episode wherein all three Sheffield kids got head lice, Fran informed Maxwell that he wasn’t spending enough time with his children (as if that somehow would’ve prevented head lice). Sure enough, her opinions and her advice began to stick. Fortunately, the lice didn’t.
Niles, the prim and proper butler, did a lot of nose-thumbing in Fran’s direction. Maggie, the eldest child, looked to her for motherly guidance. The quick-witted and mischievous middle child, Brighton, had an offbeat knack for humor—a wacky video of a bris ceremony and wild science projects were just a few of his masterpieces. Young, highly rational Grace Sheffield was the polar opposite of Fran (in one memorable episode, she visited a counselor after Fran “ate” her imaginary friend), but because of that, the two had the most to teach each other.
Maxwell’s work associate was C.C. Babcock, the haughty and affected socialite who competed with Fran for his affections. And in addition to the Max-competition with Fran, C.C. regularly engaged Niles in scathing banter competitions. Fran had her hands full with the Sheffields, and the Sheffields had their hands full with Fran. But in a family, full hands are the best kind.
At the end of the fifth season, Maxwell and Fran got hitched. And at the end of the sixth and final season, Fran gave birth to twins. From a dumped and destitute cosmetics saleswoman turned nanny to an uptown mother and wife, it just goes to show you…the “help” isn’t without some upward mobility of its own. Especially when it has a voice like that.
“She was working in a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens,
‘Til her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes,
What was she to do?
Where was she to go?
She was out on her fanny…”
“Now the father finds her beguiling (watch out C.C.)!
And the kids are actually smiling (such joie de vivre)!
She’s the lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan…
The flashy girl from Flushing, the Nanny named Fran!”
USA / CBS – Tristar – Sternin & Fraser Ink, Inc. / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast 1993-99
Creators: Peter Marc Jacobson, Fran Drescher / Producers: Cathy Landsberg, Fran Drescher / Executive Producers: Peter Marc Jacobson, Robert Sternin, Prudence Fraser
Fran Drescher as Fran Fine/Sheffield
Charles Shaughnessy as Maxwell Sheffield
Daniel Davis as Niles
Lauren Lane as C. C. Babcock
Nicholle Tom as Margaret “Maggie” Sheffield
Benjamin Salisbury as Brighton Sheffield
Madeline Zima as Grace Sheffield
Renée Taylor as Sylvia Fine
Ann Morgan Guilbert as Yetta Rosenberg
Rachel Chagall as Val Toriello
Mort Drescher as Morty Fine