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Fisher and Mark Stewart (Mannix, 1970)
August 18, 1935|
Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||December 2, 2000
Culver City, California, U.S.
Gail Fisher (August 18, 1935 – December 2, 2000) was an American actress who was one of the first black women to play substantive roles in American television. She was best known for playing the role of secretary Peggy Fair on the television detective series Mannix from 1968 through 1975, a role for which she won two Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy Award. Fisher became the first black woman to win a Golden Globe.
Life and career
The youngest of five children, Fisher was born in Orange, New Jersey. Her father died when she was two years old, and she was raised by her mother, Ona Fisher, who raised her family with a home-operated hair-styling business while living in the Potter's Crossing neighborhood of Edison, New Jersey. She graduated from Metuchen High School in Metuchen, New Jersey. During her teenaged years, she was a cheerleader and entered several beauty contests, winning the titles of Miss Transit, Miss Black New Jersey, and Miss Press Photographer.
In a contest sponsored by Coca-Cola, Fisher won the opportunity to spend two years studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As a student of acting in New York City, she worked with Lee Strasberg  and became a member of the Repertory Theater at Lincoln Center, where she worked with Elia Kazan and Herbert Blau. As a young woman, she also worked as a model.
Fisher made her first television appearance in 1960 at age 25, appearing in the syndicated program Play of the Week. Also during the early 1960s, she appeared in a television commercial for All laundry detergent, which she said made her "the first black female -- no, make that black, period -- to make a national TV commercial, on camera, with lines." In 1965, Herbert Blau cast her in a theatrical production of Danton's Death.
She first appeared in Mannix during the second season, when Mannix left the detective firm Intertect and set up shop as a private investigator. In 1968, she made guest appearances on the TV series My Three Sons, Love, American Style, and Room 222. In 1970, her work on Mannix was honored when she received the Emmy Award for outstanding performance by an actress in a dramatic supporting role. In winning the Emmy, she beat out Susan Saint James in The Name of the Game and Barbara Anderson in Ironside, becoming the first black woman to win an Emmy Award. After Mannix was canceled in 1975, she rarely appeared on television. She guest-starred in a 1980 episode of The White Shadow.
Fisher was married and divorced twice. She had two daughters, Samara and Jole, from her 1964 marriage to John Levy. Her marriage to Wali Muhammad (Walter Youngblood), famed cornerman to Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali, ended in divorce when he changed religions. Wali was also an assistant minister to Malcolm X at Nation of Islam Mosque No. 7.
She died in Los Angeles in 2000, aged 65, reportedly from renal failure. Twelve hours after Gail Fisher died, her brother Clifton died from heart failure. Gail Fisher was cremated.
|1959||Play of the Week||Joyce Lane||Episode: "Simply Heavenly"|
|1960||Play of the Week||N/A||Episode: "Climate of Eden"|
|1962||The Defenders||The Singer||Episode: "Grandma TNT"|
|1967||He & She||Helen||Episode: "One of Our Firemen is Missing"|
|1967||The Second Hundred Years||Young Matron||Episode: "Luke's First Christmas"|
|1968||My Three Sons||Carla||Episode: "Gossip, Incorporated"|
|1968–75||Mannix||Peggy Fair||147 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1972, 1974)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1971–73)
|1969||Love, American Style||Mercy||Episode: "Love and the Hustler"|
|1970||Insight||Mrs. Carter||Episode: "The Incident on Danker Street"|
|1971||Room 222||Diana Brown||Episode: "Welcome Back, Miss Brown"|
|1971||Love, American Style||Penny||Episode: "Love and the Baby"|
|1972||Every Man Need One||Pauline Kramer||Television movie|
|1975||Medical Center||Bonnie Horne||Episode: "Street Girl"|
|1979||Fantasy Island||Dr. Frantz||Episode: "Hit Man/The Swimmer"|
|1982||General Hospital||Judge Heller||5 episodes|
|1983||Knight Rider||Thelma||Episode: "Short Notice"|
|1985||Hotel||Fran Willis||Episode: "Hearts and Minds"|
|1986||He's the Mayor||Lila||Episode: "Take My Father Please"|
|1987||Mankillers||Joan Hanson||Television movie|
Awards and honors
|1970||Won||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama||Mannix|
|1971||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama||Mannix|
|1972||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama||Mannix|
|1973||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama||Mannix|
|1971||Won||Golden Globe Award||Best Supporting Actress - Television Series||Mannix|
|1972||Nominated||Golden Globe Award||Best Supporting Actress - Television Series||Mannix|
|1973||Won||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress - Television Series Drama||Mannix|
|1974||Nominated||Golden Globe Award||Best Supporting Actress - Television Series||Mannix|
- "Gail Fisher". African American Registry. Archived from the original on October 4, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2009. The article cites Jet as its source.
- Lawrence Van Gelder, Gail Fisher, 65, TV Actress Who Won Emmy for 'Mannix', New York Times, February 20, 2001
- Laurie Jarmon (1995), Gail Fisher, in Notable Black American Women, Jessie Carney Smith, editor. ISBN 0-8103-9177-5. Pages 223-224.
- Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.