The actress, who was born Ruby Nanette Bernadette Theresa Fabres, was best known for her performances on the stage and small screen. She won three Emmys for Caesar's Hour in 1956 and 1957 and earned a Tony for Love Life in 1949. Fabray also starred in several films, including the 1953 Fred Astaire classic, The Band Wagon.
Her best-known television role came later in her career, when she starred on Norman Lear's One Day At A Time as Katherine Romano. She retired after appearing on Coach in the early 1990s.
Fabray was remembered by her contemporaries, including Carl Reiner, who worked with her on Caesar's Hour in 1957 and 1958. "I was so saddened to learn of the passing of Nanette Fabray at 97. So enjoyed working in sketches with her and Sid Caesar on Caesar's Hour in 1957-1958," he wrote.
I was so saddened to learn of the passing of Nanette Fabray at 97. So enjoyed working in sketches with her and Sid Caesar on Caesar's Hour in 1957-1958— carl reiner (@carlreiner) February 25, 2018
Michael McKean called Fabray "pretty awesome."
Nanette Fabray was pretty awesome. RIP.— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) February 24, 2018
VEEP writer Frank Rich said he will "never forget" Fabray's performance in Irving Berlin's last musical, Mr. President.
Marlee Matlin praised Fabray for helping deaf and hard of hearing audiences. Fabray herself had hearing problems during her life. During an episode of The Carol Burnett Show, Fabray signed "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" while singing it.
She also signed "I love you" during her appearances on The Hollywood Squares, notes The Hollywood Reporter.
You may not know who Nanette Fabray was but she was one of the earliest proponents of sign language on TV. She advocated for the deaf and hard of hearing because she lived with being deaf. RIP Nanette Fabray, Stage And TV Comic Actress. She was was 97. https://t.co/5SZJORrsEZ…— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) February 24, 2018
Shaun Cassidy recalled spending New Year's Eve at Fabray's house as a child.
"There was always a massive crafts table where she encouraged us kids to build our own hats and horns and whatever. What a beautiful force of life she was," he wrote.
One of the highlights of my childhood was going with my parents to Nanette Fabray's house for New Year's. There was always a massive crafts table where she encouraged us kids to build our own hats and horns and whatever. What a beautiful force of life she was. #RIPNanetteFabray— Shaun Cassidy (@shaunpcassidy) February 24, 2018
"Godspeed, Nanette Fabray," Nancy Sinatra wrote, adding a crying emoji.
Godspeed, Nanette Fabray. 😢💙— Nancy Sinatra (@NancySinatra) February 24, 2018
"What a gal," Shameless star Sharon Lawrence wrote.
SAG-AFTRA and the Tony Awards also paid tribute to Fabray's career. She received the Screen Actors Guild's lifetime achievement award in 1987.
“A true performer and star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Nanette Fabray had limitless exuberance and an expert sense of comic timing,” -SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. https://t.co/YNoD855btq pic.twitter.com/wXoOapevaQ— SAG-AFTRA (@sagaftra) February 24, 2018
Photo Credit: Twitter / @THR