Flagg in 1972
September 21, 1944
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Patricia Neal (born September 21, 1944), known professionally as Fannie Flagg, is an American actress, comedian and author. She is best known as a semi-regular panelist on the 1973–82 versions of the game show Match Game, and for the 1988 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which was adapted into the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Flagg was nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay adaptation.
As her acting career began, Flagg could not use her birth name professionally, as there was already a well-known Oscar-winning actress named Patricia Neal. As a result, she selected the first name "Fannie," at the suggestion of her father, who recalled it being used by vaudeville stars who played on stage in Birmingham, and "Flagg" at the suggestion of a friend who attempted to come up with a surname that would sound memorable when paired with the new first name.
During the 1960s, Flagg co-hosted the locally produced "Morning Show" on WBRC-TV in Birmingham, Alabama. Following this, she was hired as a staff writer for Allen Funt's Candid Camera, and she later became Funt's co-host on the syndicated 1970s weekly version of the show. After a lull in her writing career, she returned her focus to writing in the 1980s. Among her novels are Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man (1983) (originally titled Coming Attractions), Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! (1998) and perhaps her best-known book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. She subsequently wrote the screenplay based on that book which became the film Fried Green Tomatoes. The 1991 movie garnered her a nomination for an Academy Award. Fried Green Tomatoes starred Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker, and Cicely Tyson.
She has also written Standing in the Rainbow (2002), A Redbird Christmas, (2004), Can't Wait to Get to Heaven (2006), and I Still Dream About You: A Novel (2010). Her most recent book, The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, was published on November 5, 2013 by Random House.
During the 1970s, Flagg was a fixture on game show panels. She is best known for her appearances on the game show Match Game (normally occupying the lower right-hand seat next to regular panelist Richard Dawson). Her acting credits include the Broadway production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the films Some of My Best Friends Are..., Five Easy Pieces, Stay Hungry, Grease and Crazy in Alabama, as well as minor roles in various television shows. In 1975 she appeared as the Amazon Doctor in the pilot for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. She is also known for being a regular on The New Dick Van Dyke Show, where for two seasons she played Mike Preston, sister to Van Dyke's character Dick Preston, and for her role as Cassie Bowman in all 30 episodes of the 1980-81 sitcom version of Harper Valley PTA, starring Barbara Eden. She also appeared several times as a victim of alien abduction called Silvia Miller on the talk show parody Fernwood 2 Night during 1977.
Flagg has spoken publicly about being dyslexic. Flagg has said she was greatly challenged as a writer because she "was severely dyslexic and couldn't spell, still can't spell. So I was discouraged from writing and embarrassed". Her burgeoning writing career was put on hold for much of the 1970s, but Flagg overcame her fear and completed several novels and screenplays.
Flagg divides her time between homes in California and Alabama.
- Fannie Flagg Biography (1941-), FilmReference.com, retrieved 2007-10-31
- Eakin, Marah; Teti, John; Adams, Erik (June 16, 2014). "Bonus round stars: 9 celebrities who found their greatest fame on game shows". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- Hillard, Gloria (January 12, 1999), High hurdles didn't stop Fannie Flagg, CNN, retrieved 2007-10-31
- Brown, Rita Mae (1997), Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser, Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-09973-6