||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
|Born||Nancy Elizabeth Stafford
June 5, 1954
Wilton Manors, Florida, USA
|Spouse(s)||Larry Myers (1989–present)|
|Beauty pageant titleholder|
|Education||University of Florida|
|Height||5' 9" (1.75 m)|
|Title(s)||Miss Ft. Lauderdale 1976
Miss Florida 1976
|Miss America 1977|
Nancy Elizabeth Stafford (born June 5, 1954) is an American actress, speaker and author, known for her roles in television. She came to prominence in the 1980s as Ben Matlock's (played by Andy Griffith) law partner and friend, Michelle Thomas, on Matlock. She hosted a syndicated TV series called Main Floor (1995–2005), a show about fashion and beauty.
Stafford was born in Wilton Manors, Florida, a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where she was raised in a Southern Baptist home. In a 2008 interview with Christians in Cinema, she said that she had been a born-again Christian, since she was eight years old. But, before she attended college, attending her family's local church was full of hypocrisy. By the time she was a teenager, she had also lived a prodigal life, before she returned to Jesus. After graduating from Ft. Lauderdale High School in 1972, she was Miss Florida 1976, competing in the 1977 Miss America Pageant. She began her career working as a public relations specialist. In addition, she worked as a top model in New York at the Ford Model Agency. Her career was going strong until she was diagnosed with skin cancer. She underwent successful surgery in 1978. That same year, she became a spokesperson in 250 commercials, before she began her career in acting.
In 1982, she moved to Los Angeles, where she had her first guest-starring role playing the dual role of Adrienne/Felicia Hunt on the soap opera The Doctors, the show she grew up watching. This led to other roles on shows such as: Riptide, Remington Steele, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Who's the Boss?, Hunter, Quantum Leap, and Magnum, P.I. In an interview, Stafford said that she wanted to work with Tom Selleck, who also helped launch her career. Stafford joined the cast of season two of St. Elsewhere, as Joan Halloran, opposite the late Ed Flanders and popular producer Norman Lloyd. She played the role for three seasons. She also starred as Patricia Blake on Sidekicks, which lasted one season.
After a decade of working with legendary stars, despite being a struggling, unfamiliar actress, her most prominent television role was as Ben Matlock's assistant Michelle Thomas on Matlock, opposite Andy Griffith, from 1987 to 1992, replacing Linda Purl, who left after the first year because she had contractual problems with her character and castmates. Stafford had been a lifelong Griffith fan, since the early 1960s, as a six-year-old girl. Stafford auditioned and won the role. Before she played Michelle, she guest starred on the same show in 1986, where she played a call girl. According to a 2010 interview with the actress on On Screen and Beyond, there was a remarkable on- and off-screen relationship between Stafford and Griffith. When co-star Kene Holliday who played Tyler Hudson in the series, got fired from the show, prior to attending rehab, after being 3 months sober, from his long battle against alcohol and drugs, Clarence Gilyard who played Conrad McMasters replaced him. At the same time, her on-screen appearances on Matlock were reducing; hence; she was unavailable to come to the set everyday due to her busy scheduling. She left the show to spend more time with her family, and also moving on to other ventures. She was grief-stricken, when on July 3, 2012, her mentor, childhood television hero and TV lawyer, Andy Griffith, passed away. Prior to his death, Stafford released a statement: "I'm heartsick....I am forever grateful for the 5 wonderful years I worked with Andy. They were a highlight of my life. I've never laughed so hard or learned so much! He has left an indelible mark on my life – and the lives of countless millions. He was a consummate professional, an American treasure, and a dear man."
After her departure from Matlock, she became a world-renowned public speaker, traveling all over from churches, colleges, universities, women's group to other businesses. During the 1990s, she was the host of Main Floor, which was a talk show that was seen in over forty countries. In 2008, she co-hosted the first season of Love, Marriage and Stinkin' Thinkin alongside Mark Gungor.
Stafford also guest starred in many shows in the late 1990s, such as ER, Frasier, Babylon 5, Baywatch and most recently, The Mentalist. Additionally, she played "The Lady in the Park" in the 2004 award-winning short film The Proverb.
She is also the best-selling author of many Christian books such as: Beauty by the Book: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You; The Wonder of His Love: A Journey into the Heart of God, and her 2006 book, Mothers & Daughters Taking Your Adult Relationship to a Deeper Level.
From 1984 to 2009, Stafford was the spokeswoman for City Furniture (known as Waterbed City from 1971 to 1994), a South Florida-based chain of furniture stores.
Stafford graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism.
Husband Larry Myers is a pastor. They have a daughter and grandson.
- 1983–86: St. Elsewhere (TV series)
- 1986–87: Sidekicks (TV series)
- 1987–92: Matlock (TV series)
- 2003: Judging Amy (2 episodes)
- 2007: The Wager
- 2013: Season of Miracles
Ann K. Schmalzried
Cathy La Belle