As one of her final works in theater, Nancy Walker directed the Broadway play UTBU (featuring Margaret Hamilton and Tony Randall) for seven performances at the Helen Hayes Theater in 1966.
Despite being firmly identified with her "Jewish mother" role as Ida Morgenstern, Nancy Walker was not Jewish (though her second husband was). She was fond of telling people that her origins were "Black Irish."
Nancy worked on the FOX show True Colors until very close to her death. Her "TV daughter" Valerie Harper (who played Rhoda Morgenstern) was quoted as saying, "I love the fact that she went out like she came in...with greasepaint on."
At 4'11" in height, Walker was always cast in comedy and character actress roles during her career. She is one of 69 famous women listed on the "Who's Who of Short People" list at the Short Person Support (SPS) website.
Not only did Nancy Walker star in two series canceled in one television season (The Nancy Walker Show - Fall 1976 and Blansky's Beauties - Winter/Spring 1977), but these shows were backed by two of TV's most successful producers of the time, Norman Lear and Garry Marshall.
Though 30 years old at the time, the diminutive Nancy occasionally appeared on Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater/Buick Comedy Hour playing a teenager and president of the fictional "Milton Berle Fan Club."
Nancy and her sister Betty Lou Barto both aspired to be singers and were raised in show business by their father, vaudeville performer Dewey Barto (born Dewey Smoyer).
Nancy and her husband David Craig had one child, Miranda. Both David Craig and Miranda have passed away since Walker's death in 1992.
Nancy Walker's career as a performer may have been accidentally helped because theater director George Abbott confused her with the actress Helen Walker who he had worked with previously.
Nancy's stage career was recognized with two "Best Actress" Tony Award nominations - one in 1956 for Phoenix 55 and another in 1961 for Do Re Mi.
Sources indicate that Nancy Walker suffered from depression and insecurity, problems that forced her to seek professional therapy.
Walker was twice married. Her first marriage, to Gar Moore, lasted less than a year. Her second marriage, to voice teacher David Craig, was much more successful and lasted from 1951 until her death.
Walker's work as director for the "Village People" movie Can't Stop the Music (1980) earned her the dubious distinction of being nominated for a Razzie Award for "Worst Director." Although an artistic and commercial failure, the movie has since attained a cult status with some fans.
Nancy Walker was nominated for supporting actress Emmy Awards for McMillan and Wife (1973, 74, 75), Rhoda (1975, 76, 77, 78) and as a guest performer on The Golden Girls (1985). She also received nominations for four Golden Globe awards for McMillan and Wife and Rhoda.
Nancy's "Rosie the Waitress" commercials for paper towels earned her a total of about $250,000 in the 1970s and 1980s.
Nancy Walker picked her stage name by looking randomly through the phone book. Some sources say she stuck with the name after having coincidental luck with it after landing her first good role.
Walker's professional acting debut was in 1941, in the Broadway production Best Foot Forward (she later starred in the movie version as well).
Nancy Walker: (speaking to her husband after their delayed 40th wedding anniversary party) Now I can go in peace. This was the last dream of my life come true.