Obituary: Nancy Malone / Actress, pioneering television director

March 19, 1935 - May 8, 2014

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

Nancy Malone was on the cover of Life magazine at age 11, had a starring role on Broadway at 17 and worked steadily as an actress in television in her 20s and 30s.

Though she was in demand, she feared for the future. "I'd seen actresses getting to the age of 45, having nowhere to go except Bloomingdale's or regional theater," Ms. Malone said in an interview for the 2002 book "Women Who Run the Show."

She drastically curbed her acting in the 1970s for the other side of the camera. Ms. Malone became not only an Emmy-winning producer and studio executive, but also -- in a move highly unusual for a woman at the time -- a director, working on shows such as "Dynasty," "Cagney & Lacey" and "Star Trek: Voyager."

Ms. Malone, 79, died May 8 at a hospital in Duarte, Calif. The cause was pneumonia that arose from complications of leukemia, publicist Harlan Boll said.

Although Ms. Malone credits several men with helping her make the transitions in her career, she also keenly felt the prejudice against women. In the mid-1970s, Ms. Malone was made a vice president for television at 20th Century Fox, but not on a level playing field.

"The guys made more money than me, and I was doing the same job," she said in a 2010 interview recorded by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

In her early years as a producer, some directors and crew members would hardly talk to her. It led her to become a founding member of the Women In Film support and networking group in 1973.

She was born Ann Maloney on March 19, 1935, in New York City. When she was in grade school, photos of her taken as a lark (it was supposed to be her brother's photo session) led to her being signed by a modeling agency. With her hair in pigtails, she was the cover girl on the 10th anniversary issue of Life in 1946. As she got radio work, an agent suggested she change her name.

Taking acting seriously as a teenager, Malone studied at the famed Actors Studio. In 1952 she had the title role in the Broadway comedy "Time Out for Ginger."

In addition to theater, she got work in early television, sometimes simultaneously. At one point she was on the live soap opera "The Guiding Light," filming scenes for her co-starring role in the TV series "The Naked City" and appearing in a play, all in the same day.

Ms. Malone moved to Los Angeles in 1965 and the work continued to pour in, with roles on "The Fugitive," "The Andy Griffith Show," "Hawaii Five-O" and other hits.

She eventually made the leap, learning the producing end of the business. The first TV film she produced was 1975's "Winner Take All" with Shirley Jones, about a woman with a gambling addiction. It was a ratings hit on NBC, leading to the job at Fox where she stayed for three years. Back on her own, she produced the 1978 TV movie about divorce, "Like Mom, Like Me," starring Linda Lavin, and other films.


Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?