Fannie Flagg

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Fannie Flagg
Fannie Flagg 1972.jpg
Flagg in 1972
Born Patricia Neal
(1944-09-21) September 21, 1944 (age 70)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Occupation
Years active 1966–present
Known for
Parent(s) Marion Leona (née LeGore) and William Hurbert Neal, Jr.

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 1987 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.[1]

Early life[edit]

Flagg, born in Birmingham, Alabama, is the daughter of Marion Leona (née LeGore) and William Hurbert Neal, Jr., who was a small-business owner and projectionist.[2]

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.

Career[edit]

Writing[edit]

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.

In 1978, Flagg won first place in fiction for a short story that she had written at the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference. The work became the basis for the novel Coming Attractions. In 1980, after the deaths of her parents, she decided to pursue writing full-time. Flagg's first novel, Coming Attractions: A Wonderful Novel, was published in 1981. The book was reissued as Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man in 1992--the title Flagg originally wanted to use. The autobiographical coming-of-age novel is written as a diary that starts in 1952 with an eleven-year-old protagonist, Daisy Fay Harper. Daisy uses diary entries to tell the story of her alcoholic father's get-rich-quick schemes and her ladylike and well-mannered mother. The book stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks.

Perhaps her best-known novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, was published in 1987 and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 36 weeks. It was praised by both Harper Lee and Eudora Welty. The novel is told in both past and present tense by the characters Ninnie Threadgoode (past) and Evelyn Crouch (present) and focuses on the town of Whistle Stop, Alabama, circa the 1920s and 1930s. It is about the unlikely bonds forged between women who seemingly have nothing in common except restlessness. Flagg 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 Fannie Flagg's Original Whistle-Stop Café Cookbook (1993), Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! (1998), 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.

Acting[edit]

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).[3] 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.

During the 1960s and '70s, Flagg recorded two comedy albums with various skits that included many parodies of Lady Bird Johnson and Martha Mitchell.

Other TV appearances[edit]

Flagg has appeared on multiple talk shows. Some of them are The Joey Bishop Show (1968), The Dick Cavett Show (1968),The Merv Griffin Show (1966; 1969; 1973), The Mike Douglas Show (1968; 1969),The Johnny Cash Show (1969), Dinah! (1974; 1975), Pebble Mill at One (1992), and The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1999). Flagg also appeared on Good Morning America in 1981.

Personal life[edit]

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".[4] 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 was at one time the partner of author Rita Mae Brown.[5][6][7]

Flagg divides her time between homes in California and Alabama.

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1970 Five Easy Pieces Stoney
1971 Some of My Best Friends Are... Helen
1976 Stay Hungry Amy Adaptation of the novel of the same name.
1978 Rabbit Test The President's Wife Directed by Joan Rivers.
1978 Grease Nurse Wilkins
1987 My Best Friend Is a Vampire Mrs. Capello Also known as I Was a Teenage Vampire.
1991 Fried Green Tomatoes Screenwriter Academy Award nomination.[1]
1998 'Fried Green Tomatoes': The Moments of Discovery Documentary
1999 Crazy in Alabama Sally
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1967 Match Game Herself Semi-Regular Panelist: 1967–1968; 1973–1982
1972 Love, American Style Sally Episode: "Love and the Bachelor Party" (S 3:Ep 78)
1971–1973 The New Dick Van Dyke Show Michelle "Mike" Preston Main cast
1973–1974 $10,000 Pyramid Herself
  • Fannie Flagg & Bill Cullen guest star (S 1:Ep 22)
  • Fannie Flagg & Wayne Rogers guest star (S 2:Ep 47)
1974 Hollywood Squares Herself Recurring panelist
1975 Tattletales Herself (S 2:Ep 22)
1975 The New Adventures of Wonder Woman Amazon Doctor Episode: "The New Original Wonder Woman" (Pilot)
1975 Home Cookin Adelle TV movie
1975 Match Game PM Herself Semi-Regular Panelist
1976 Word Grabbers Herself
  • TV Movie
  • 2nd pilot
1977 Sex and the Married Woman Virginia Ladysmith TV movie
1977 Fernwood 2 Night Sylvia Miller Recurring
1979 The Love Boat Alicia Finch Episode: "The Decision/Poor Little Rich Girl/Love Me, Love My Dog" (S 2:Ep 22)
1980 Battlestars Herself Guest star
1980 To Tell the Truth Herself Panelist
1981–1982 Harper Valley PTA Cassie Bowman Main Cast
1983 The Love Boat Liz Merritt Episode: "The Zinging Valentine/The Very Temporary Secretary/Final Score" (S 6:Ep 20)
1986 The Love Boat Laurie Ryan Episode: "Father of the Bride/The Best Man/Members of the Wedding" (S 9:Ep 10)
1987 Dolly Screenwriter (S 1:Ep 1–5, 8, 10) Variety show

Books (Author)[edit]

Year Title Notes
1981 Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man Originally titled Coming Attractions, the title was changed when the book was reissued in 1992
1987 Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Wrote the screenplay for the film Fried Green Tomatoes
1998 Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
2002 Standing in the Rainbow
2004 A Redbird Christmas
2006 Can't Wait to Get to Heaven
2010 I Still Dream About You: A Novel
2013 The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion

Accolades[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref
1992 Academy Award Best Adapted Screenplay Fannie Flagg Nominated [1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) Awards". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Fannie Flagg Biography (1941-)". FilmReference.com. Retrieved October 31, 2007. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Hillard, Gloria (January 12, 1999). "High hurdles didn't stop Fannie Flagg". CNN. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  5. ^ Brown, Rita Mae (1997), Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser, Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-09973-6 
  6. ^ Azzopardi, Chris (December 17, 2009). "Welcome to the Jungle". Gay & Lesbian Times. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 
  7. ^ Bayard, Louis (June 29, 2009). "Crying foul on Martina Navratilova". Salon.com. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 

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