First gaining attention as a semi regular performer on the variety series “The Jack Paar Show” (1959-1962), actress, writer and director Renee Taylor acquired television stardom over three decades later portraying Sylvia Fine on the CBS hit sitcom “The Nanny” (1993-1999), which earned her an Emmy nomination in 1996.
Starting out as a writer, Taylor has built a fruitful partnership with her husband Joseph Bologna. Married in 1965, the two starred in and wrote the Broadway hit comedy “Lovers and Other Strangers” (1968) and jointly picked up an Oscar nomination for writing the movie adaptation in 1970. They also netted a Writers Guild of America nomination for the comedy film “Made for Each Other” (1971, also starred in) and a Writing Emmy Award for the television special “Marlo Thomas in Acts of Love and Other Comedies” (1972). Other projects they worked on include the TV series “Calucci's Department” (1973), the movies “It Had to Be You” (1989), which was adapted from their play, “Love Is All There Is” (1996) and the plays “Bermuda Avenue Triangle” (1995) and “If You Ever Leave Me, I'm Going With You” (2001).
Since “The Nanny,” Taylor, who played Eva Braun in Mel Brooks' “The Producers” (1968), has concentrated on her acting career. Her more recent film projects include “Dying on the Edge,” “Dr. Dolittle 2” (both 2001), “Returning Mickey Stern” (2002), “Lady Killers” (2003), “Alfie” (2004), “The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club” (2005), “Ice Age: The Meltdown” (2006, voiced Mrs. Start), “A-List” (2006), “Pandemic” (2007, TV), “The Rainbow Tribe” (2008), “Boston Girls” (2008, directed by her son Gabriel), “Driving Me Crazy” (2008) and “Opposite Day” (2008). She also starred in a one woman show she wrote called “An Evening With Golda Meir” (2001).
Taylor is also known as the author of the bestselling “My Life On A Diet: Confessions of a Hollywood Diet Junkie,” a parody on dieting in Hollywood. The book was published by Putnam (1986).
Taylor and her husband, actor/writer/director Joseph Bologna, have one son together named Gabriel Bologna (actor/director/writer). She is the grandmother of Gabriel's son Juliano (born in 1995). Taylor and her husband earned an honorary doctorate from Hofstra University.
Childhood and Family:
Renee Wexler, who would later be popular as Renee Taylor, was born on March 19, 1933, in New York, New York. She was trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
In the 1960s, Renee was introduced to actor/director Joseph Bologna on the set of a television commercial that he was directing and she was starring in. She subsequently fell in love with him and thought, “This is the man I am going to marry.”
The couple married on August 7, 1965, and has a son named Gabriel Niccolo Bologna. In the mid 1990s, Renee welcomed a grandson named Juliano Bologna into the world from Gabriel's marriage to actress Athena Stensland, the niece of the late actress Inger Stevens. Gabriel and his wife are now separated.
Lovers and Other Strangers
A graduate of New York's Academy of Dramatic Arts, Renee Taylor kicked off her career in the 1950s as a variety show comedienne and writer in her hometown of New York. Her big screen debut arrived in 1958 when she landed a small role in “The Mugger,” which was based on a novel by Evan Hunter and starred Kent Smith and James Franciscus. However, she did not enjoy national fame until she was hired as a semi regular on the comedy show “The Jack Paar Show,” a gig she held from 1959 to 1962.
Taylor went on to act in the movies “The Errand Boy” (1961), directed and co-written by Jerry Lewis, “A Fine Madness” (1966), scripted by Elliott Baker from his novel and starring Sean Connery and Joanne Woodward, and “The Detective” (1968), which saw her portraying the wife of Jack Klugman. She also played Evan Braun the Mel Brooks comedy “The Producers” (1968). Aside from her film work, Taylor was also seen in such Broadway plays as “Luv” (1967, as Ellen Manville), “Agatha Sue, I Love You” (1966) and “Lovers and Other Strangers” (1968, as Wilma), which she co-wrote with her husband Joseph Bologna. The couple worked together again in 1970 on the script of the big screen version of “Lovers and Other Strangers” for director Cy Howard. Starring Beatrice Arthur, Bonnie Bedelia and Michael Brandon, the comedy earned the duo a 1971 Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and a Writers Guild of America nomination for the same category.
After their Oscar nominated work, Taylor and Bologna wrote and starred in the comedy film “Made for Each Other” (1971), which was directed by Robert B. Bean. For their writing, they shared a Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen. Also in 1971, Taylor appeared with director/writer/actor Elaine May in the comedy “A New Leaf” and Michael Brandon and Tippy Walker in Noel Black's “Jennifer on My Mind.” She next played the supporting role of Jeanette in the Neil Simon written comedy “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” (1972). It was also in 1972 that Taylor's collaboration with Bologna on a television special for Marlo Thomas called “Acts of Love and Other Comedies” won the talented couple a writing Emmy Award. They then created a TV series for James Coco called “Calucci's Department” (1973), co-wrote “A Lucille Ball Special Starring Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason” (1975) with James Eppy, and wrote and co-starred in the TV film remake of “Woman of the Year” (1976). On her own, Taylor played the regular role of Annabelle in the Louise Lasser comedy series “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” (1977-1978) and was cast as the same character in the spin-off show “Forever Fernwood” (1977).
Taylor worked with her husband during the 1980s on the television movies “A Cry for Love” (1980) and “Bedrooms” (1984, also served as co-director) and the series “Lovers and Other Strangers” (1983). In 1981, she starred as Theda Blau in the Broadway play “It Had to Be You,” which she also co-wrote with Bologna (who also acted in the play). The play was brought to film eight years later with Taylor and Bologna reprising their stage roles and serving as the directors. In between the projects, she acted in the comedy movie “Lovesick” (1983, as Mrs. Mondragon), had a recurring role as Dr. Charlotte Miller in two episodes of “St. Elsewhere” (1984) and guest starred in such shows as “Lottery” (1983), “The Love Boat” (1986) and “Tales from the Darkside” (1986).
The 1990s saw Taylor focus her energy on her acting career. Her film credits included “The End of Innocence” (1990), “White Palace” (1990), “Delirious” (1991), “Forever” (1992), the Cannes Film Festival screened “Love Is All There Is” (1996), which she also co-wrote and co-directed with her husband, and “A Match Made in Heaven” (1997, TV). After landing a recurring role on the HBO series “Dream On” (1992), in which she was cast as the domineering Jewish mother of the title character, Taylor secured a hit with the Fran Drescher comedy series “The Nanny” (CBS, 1993-1999). Playing the free-spoken mother Sylvia Fine, she was handed an Emmy nomination in 1996 in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She also starred as Helen Mitchell in the short-lived comedy series “Daddy Dearest” (1993) and had guest spots in such series as “Caroline in the City” and “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” On stage, Taylor co-wrote and co-starred with Bologna in the well received play “Bermuda Avenue Triangle” (1995).
In 2001, Taylor rejoined her husband for the Broadway play “If You Ever Leave Me, I'm Going With You,” which the couple wrote and starred in. She also wrote and starred in a one woman show called “An Evening With Golda Meir,” which premiered at the Sid Caesar Theater in Huntington, Long Island. She then appeared in the film “Dying on the Edge” and the TV movie “61” and provided the voice of a female tortoise in the Eddie Murphy vehicle “Dr. Dolittle 2” (all 2001). Taylor was next featured in Michael Prywes' comedy “Returning Mickey Stern” (2002), which starred Bologna in the title role, supported Will Friedle, Chris Owen and Louise Lasser in “Lady Killers” (2003), costarred with Jude Law in the big screen remake of “Alfie” (2004) and acted with her husband in the Susan Seidelman directed “The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club” (2005) before voicing Mrs. Start in the successful animated movie “Ice Age: The Meltdown” (2006). She also had supporting roles in the comedy “Kalamazoo” (2006) and the award winning “A-List” (2006), in which her son, Gabriel, also acted in as Bob. She next appeared as a pharmacist in the TV film “Pandemic” (2007).
In 2008, Taylor portrayed Ms. Crapple in director Christopher R. Watson's “The Rainbow Tribe” and was directed by her son in the thriller “Boston Girls” (2008). She also appeared with her husband in the Steve Marshall comedy “Driving Me Crazy” (2008) and played Martha Benson in the family film “Opposite Day” (2008).
Emmy: Writing, “Acts of Love And Other Comedies,” 1972