Nancy Malone: 1935 – 2014

Nancy Malone.

By Adam Farley, Assistant Editor
May 16, 2014

Nancy Malone was a model, actress, director, and Emmy-award-winning producer who had been in the limelight since a photographer snapped her picture on a lark when she was still just seven-year-old Ann Moloney from Queens Village, Long Island (it was supposed to be her brother’s photo shoot). Four years later, she was on the cover of Life magazine’s tenth anniversary issue as the “Typical American Girl.” She debuted on Broadway six years after that, at the age of 17, in the title role of 1952’s “Time Out for Ginger.” A representative of Malone’s confirmed her death from complications of leukemia in early May. She was 79.

Born March 19th, 1935, Malone took acting seriously from an early age and throughout her 20s and 30s appeared in numerous live soaps, tv shows, and plays, sometimes simultaneously. After her early roles in shows like “The Guiding Light,” and “The Naked City,” Malone moved to Los Angeles in 1965 and would go on to appear in acclaimed shows like “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Fugitive,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Bonanza,” “The Rockford Files,” and “The Twilight Zone.” But by the early 1970s, Malone was becoming disenchanted with the position of aging female actors, telling an interviewer for the book Women Who Run the Show, “I’d seen actresses getting to the age of 45, having nowhere to go except Bloomingdale’s or regional theater.” Moreover, she wanted to change the very roles being offered to actresses themselves and turned away from acting to take positions behind the camera, first as a producer and later as a director, serving as the vice president of television at 20th Century Fox for three years in the mid-1970s.

Still, though a pioneer in the industry herself, Malone acknowledged that she was by no means representative and that even among women in the tv and film business there was still much growth that could be accomplished. So in 1973 she co-founded Women in Film, a group designed to provide a space to help networking possibilities for female film producers, directors, and executives.

“The guys were helping each other,” Malone told Mollie Gregory for Women Who Run the Show. “We all saw how the guys went into the men’s room and came out with a deal. How do we find a way to move up without using the men’s room?”

As a producer she had several early hits that challenged the image of women in film, including 1975’s “Winner Take All,” a tv movie for NBC about a woman (played by Shirley Jones) with a gambling addiction and “Like Mom, Like Me,” a 1978 tv film that gave a frank image of divorce. More unusually for the times than an actress-turned-producer though, was an actress-turned-director, but Malone shirked the stigma and quickly rose to critical acclaim behind the camera.

Her directorial debut was a joint venture with Linda Hope, daughter of Bob Home, called “Those Were Times: Dear.” It was a low-budget PBS drama about Alzheimer’s but when it aired in 1985, it led to numerous other offers, including the popular British soap “Dynasty.” She was so well-received that they asked her back for a total of 15 episodes. She stayed in the director’s chair until the early years of the millennium, working on shows as varied as “Cagney & Lacey,” Melrose Place,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Dawson’s Creek,” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

In 1993 however, she returned to her executive roots, again partnering with Linda Hope, to produce “Bob Hope: The First 90 Years,” garnering her an Emmy.

Lindsay Wagner, who worked with Malone on “The Bionic Woman,” praised her unflagging energy, both for the medium and the women in it, according to People. “She was funny and energetic, and I had great admiration for her being one of the early women to be successful in the television industry.”

“She was a true believer, but she was nobody’s fool,” actress Tyne Daly, who was directed by Malone in “Cagney & Lacey,” told The Los Angeles Times. She also told People that “With her unfailing good taste and a heart of Irish gold, I loved working and playing with her….If there is a heaven, Nancy has arrived by limousine, and the first word out of her mouth was her personal favorite code word for the ‘innkeeper’ … ‘NURSE!’”

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