Nancy Walker

Biography by

Diminutive actress, a Broadway mainstay for decades, perhaps best known for tv roles as Rhoda's mom and Bounty-pushing waitress Rosie.
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Artist Biography by

b. Anna Myrtle Swoyer, 10 May 1922, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 25 March 1992, Studio City, Los Angeles, California, USA. Small in stature but with a powerful stage presence and singing voice, Walker made a considerable mark on Broadway stages, and also impressed in the handful of films in which she appeared. Her Broadway debut came in Best Foot Forward (1941), which had songs by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin. That show was produced by George Abbot who cast her in On The Town (1944) where she stopped the show nightly with ‘I Can Cook Too’, prompting songwriters Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green to write an additional song for her. Through the rest of the 40s, Walker appeared in Barefoot Boy With Cheek (1947), Look Ma, I’m Dancin’ (1948) and the revue Along Fifth Avenue (1949). Also in the 40s, she was in Hollywood for the screen version of Best Foot Forward, in which she repeated her stage role as did June Allyson also making her screen debut, Girl Crazy, the screen version of the George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin stage success, and Broadway Rhythm, which was based upon the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II operetta Very Warm For May.

During the 50s Walker was in many shows including a 1952 revival of Pal Joey, the revue Phoenix ’55 (1955), for which she was nominated for a Tony Award, Copper And Brass (1957) and The Girls Against The Boys (1959). She also made another film, the first CinemaScope musical, Lucky Me (1954), starring Doris Day and which also had in its cast Phil Silvers and Eddie Foy Jnr. . In 1960, Walker, who was married to vocal coach David Craig, played opposite Silvers in Do Re Mi; she and Silvers received Tony nominations. Her last Broadway appearance was the 1968 revival of The Cocktail Party. Thereafter, Walker concentrated on television, becoming familiar to American television audiences through her commercials as ‘Rosie the waitress’ selling paper towels. She appeared in several series and situation comedies, always in supporting roles but invariably making an impact. Among these appearances she was Mildred in McMillan & Wife (1971-76), with Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, Ida Morgenstern in Rhoda (1974-78), which starred Valerie Harper, and she also made guest appearances in Fame, The Love Boat and The Golden Girls, appearing in the latter as the eternally warring sister of Sophia.