Fran Drescher's next role: From 'The Nanny' to Hollywood queen amid actors strike

Drescher found fame as Jewish Queens native Fran Fine on 'The Nanny'

Fran Drescher became the "it girl" in Hollywood from the beginning of her career.

From dancing with John Travolta in her first film, to creating and starring in her own award-winning television sitcom, and then pivoting into becoming one of the most powerful people in the industry – Drescher kept her eye on the prize: success. 

The New York-native had big dreams as a kid, and wanted to be a writer, hairdresser, actor or politician. She told Vanity Fair in 2022, "I kind of ended up being them all in different ways."


fran dreschers next role from the nanny to hollywood queen amid actors strike

Fran Drescher became the SAG-AFTRA president in 2021. (Gilbert Flores)

She graduated in 1975 from Hillcrest High School in Queens, and received her first film role dancing alongside John Travolta in the 1977 disco drama, "Saturday Night Fever."

"Travolta was an amazing dancer, and I really did not know how to do the hustle," Drescher said in a BUILD series interview. "I didn't have to know how to dance when you dance with Travolta." 

She told Studio 10, "That was a wonderful opportunity for me. I was still living at home with my parents, and I got that little part and it just kind of started snowballing."

Years later, Drescher ran into Travolta on the Golden Globes red carpet and interrupted one of his interviews by asking him her iconic line from "Saturday Night Fever."


"I said, ‘Are you as good in bed as you are on the dance floor?’ Well his wife's jaw dropped because she didn't know what the hell I was saying, but he knew," she said of a hilarious encounter with John's late wife Kelly Preston.

One year after her on-screen debut, she married her high school sweetheart, Peter Jacobson.

fran dreschers next role from the nanny to hollywood queen amid actors strike

Fran Drescher created and starred in the legendary television sitcom, "The Nanny." (CBS Photo Archive)

Drescher stayed the course with acting, and found success with roles in "American Hot Wax," "This is Spinal Tap," "The Big Picture," "Silver Spoons" and "Princesses." 

While on a shopping trip in London with Twiggy's daughter, Drescher was inspired to create a sitcom about the absurd reality of a woman from Queens doling out advice to high-society teenagers. Then, a chance encounter with the president of CBS while on a plane ride helped her vision come to life. 

"She's a proper British boarding-school girl, and I was like a bull in a china shop around her," Drescher told The Hollywood Reporter. "She said, 'Fran, I'm wearing new shoes, and my feet hurt.' I said, 'Well, step on the backs of them, honey.'

Drescher and Jacobson created "The Nanny" in 1993, which focused on a "flashy girl from Flushing" who was hired to watch over British Broadway producer Max Sheffield's three children after meeting on his doorstep during her failed attempt at door-to-door sales.


The Emmy award-winning sitcom ran for six years and became a huge success internationally, as well. The show aired in 90 countries and was the top-rated program in Australia. 

Drescher's character, a Jewish woman from Queens, did provide challenges for the network at the time. 

fran dreschers next role from the nanny to hollywood queen amid actors strike

Daniel Davis, Charles Shaugnessy and Lauren Lane also starred on "The Nanny." (CBS Photo Archives)

Co-executive producer Prudence Fraser told The Hollywood Reporter, "The assignment when writing for Fran is to take this hysterical character, keep her funny and lovable and in the center of things. It was never a question of who Fran should be. Fran, as an actress, knows exactly who she is and how she's funny."

"We were careful to make sure that Fran's character, although crusty and quick with her responses, remained warm and loving and adorable," Robert Sternin said. "Bobbie Fleckman, the character Fran played in 'Spinal Tap,' for instance, was an outrageous, edgy character but didn't necessarily have the warmth to be at the center of the sitcom."

Shortly after "The Nanny" wrapped, Drescher was faced with a few new challenges. 

She divorced Jacobson in 1999, but the pair continued to work on creative pursuits together. In 2014, together on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," they revealed his journey in coming out as a gay man.

Drescher was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2000.

fran dreschers next role from the nanny to hollywood queen amid actors strike

Fran Drescher and ex-husband Peter Marc Jacobson co-created "The Nanny." (Ron Galella Collection)

She penned her second memoir, "Cancer Schmancer," in 2002, which detailed her medical journey. 

"One of the most significant things that I learned is that my story was not unique, which was very mind-blowing to me," she said in a 2020 interview with HealthyWomen. 

"I wrote the book so that others wouldn't go through what I did. I very quickly realized that my experience is really quite common and happens often. It became clear that the book was not the end, but just the beginning of what became a life's mission."


In addition to her book, she founded a nonprofit of the same name, which lobbies for healthcare reform and provides medical resources for survivors. She has also served as a State Department public diplomacy envoy for health and helped advocate for Congress to pass the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act in 2007.

It was in 2021 when Drescher's name was thrown into the race for SAG president. 

She fought a winning campaign against "Stranger Things" actor Matthew Modine. 

fran dreschers next role from the nanny to hollywood queen amid actors strike

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher announced the union was going on strike last week. (Mario Tama)

fran dreschers next role from the nanny to hollywood queen amid actors strike

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, with National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, right, joins Writers Guild members at a picket line outside Netflix in Los Angeles. (Valerie Macon)

"People wanted Rosie O’Donnell," Drescher told Variety. "She got a call from my friend Camryn Manheim who said to Rosie, ‘Would you run?’ She said, ‘No, I cannot. I have a young special needs daughter, but I wouldn’t even be good for it. I’m gonna tell you who would be perfect for it. She’s the smartest woman I know. Call Fran Drescher.’"

Drescher used her gift of gab to chastise movie studio executives one week ago when Hollywood's top actor's union announced a strike last week.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strike coincides with a separate strike initiated in May by the Writers Guild of America.

It is the first time two major Hollywood unions have been on strike at the same time since 1960, when Ronald Reagan was the actors’ guild president. 

Before the strike began, Drescher made a passionate speech on behalf of SAG-AFTRA.

"Employers make Wall Street and greed their priority, and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run," Drescher said. 

"It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history."

Union leadership voted for the strike after a three-year contract expired and negotiations ended between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, who were representing employers, including Disney, Netflix, Amazon and others.

Tracy Wright is an entertainment reporter for Fox News Digital. Send story tips to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Authored by Tracy Wright via FoxNews July 19th 2023