Renée Taylor

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Renée Taylor
Renee Taylor 1974.JPG
Taylor in 1974
Renée Adorée Wexler

(1933-03-19) March 19, 1933 (age 87)
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
EducationAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1948–present
Frank Baxter
(m. 1958; div. 1964)

(m. 1965; died 2017)

Renée Adorée Taylor (née Wexler; born March 19, 1933) is an American actress, screenwriter, playwright, producer and director.[1] Taylor was nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing the screenplay for the film Lovers and Other Strangers (1970). She also played Sylvia Fine on the television sitcom The Nanny (1993–1999).

Early years[edit]

Taylor was born in The Bronx, New York City, to Charles and Frieda (née Silverstein) Wexler.[citation needed] She graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Arts.[2]


Taylor acted with improv groups in the 1950s.[2] She worked as a comedian in the early 1960s at the New York City nightclub Bon Soir. Her opening act was a then-unknown Barbra Streisand.[3] In 1968, Taylor played an actress portraying Eva Braun in Mel Brooks' feature film The Producers, a role she got while performing the play Luv with Gene Wilder, whom Brooks cast as protagonist Leo Bloom.[4]

Taylor and husband Joseph Bologna co-wrote the Broadway hit comedy Lovers and Other Strangers, and received Academy Award nominations for writing the 1970 film adaptation. In 1971, the couple co-wrote and starred in the film Made for Each Other. Their screenplay received a nomination for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy. Taylor played Arlene Sherwood, co-producer of a television show along with Jerry Orbach and John Candy in the 1991 film Delirious.[citation needed]

From 1992–94, Taylor played the overbearing Jewish mother of Brian Benben's lead character on the HBO series Dream On. In 1993, she was cast as the mother of Richard Lewis, and the ex-wife of Don Rickles, in the Fox sitcom Daddy Dearest, which was cancelled after a two-month run in the fall. Also in 1993, Taylor was slated for sporadic guest appearances on the new CBS sitcom The Nanny, playing Sylvia Fine, the mother of Fran Drescher's title character. After the cancellation of Daddy Dearest, Taylor was upgraded to a recurring cast member during the first season of The Nanny and eventually a full-time cast member by the third season.

Her roles on the two broadcast network series in 1993 were concurrent with her work on Dream On.

Taylor is most often recognized for her role in The Nanny. Her character was intent on helping daughter Fran find a husband and had a passionate love for food. Taylor's husband, Joseph Bologna, made two guest appearances on The Nanny. First, as an egomaniacal actor named Allan Beck, who tormented Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) and second, in the final season, Bologna again guest-starred as a doctor and admirer of Sylvia in the episode "Maternal Affairs".[5]

Between 2008 and 2012, Taylor guest-starred as Ted Mosby's neighbor, Mrs. Matsen, on How I Met Your Mother. She also had a guest-starring role on the Disney Channel series, Shake It Up, portraying a cranky elderly woman, Mrs. Lacasio, in a retirement home. She also had a guest-starring role on the Nickelodeon series Victorious, as Robbie's cranky grandmother who wants to learn how to use the Internet.[6] Like Sylvia Fine, Taylor's character on Victorious also has a husband named Morty.

In addition to her numerous guest-starring appearances, Taylor has worked as a voice-actor as the character Mrs. Start in the animated feature film Ice Age: The Meltdown, and in a recurring role as Linda's mother Gloria in the animated Fox series Bob's Burgers. Taylor also played Martha Benson in the film Opposite Day, released in 2009.[7]

Taylor also appeared on Fran Drescher's latest show Happily Divorced as the best friend of Fran's mother. In 2011, Taylor was cast in the short-lived Fox cartoon Allen Gregory, in which she voiced the character of Principal Gottlieb. In 2013, she starred in the Tyler Perry film Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor as Ms. Waco Chapman, the owner of Chapman Drug Company.[8]

In 2016, Taylor starred in the Netflix movie The Do-Over with Adam Sandler as the role of Mrs. Kessler and in the TV show Rock in a Hard Place. Taylor followed that with an appearance in the 2017 film How to Be a Latin Lover.[9]

Taylor had a role in Tango Shalom, which she acted alongside her husband, in his final film role before his death.[10]

Beginning July 25, 2018, Taylor appeared in My Life on a Diet at the Off-Broadway Theatre at St. Clement's, written with Bologna.[11] After two extensions, she took the production on tour across the U.S.[10][12] The website for the production provides some additional biographical detail: “Born in The Bronx, Renée made her professional stage debut at age 15 in a Purim Pageant at Madison Square Garden (earning $5 for her role as ‘Slave Girl’). She then appeared in the showcase Talent 60, which led to her earning her Actors' Equity card, at age 19, for appearing in The Rehearsal at The President Theatre. Around this time Renée was also performing stand-up in Greenwich Village nightclubs (a young Barbra Streisand opened for her at Bon Soir). After seeing Renée in a production of Easy Does It, Elaine May cast her in her improvisational revue The Third Ear. Mike Nichols then cast her as a standby for Anne Jackson in the Broadway production of Luv in 1964. After seeing her in Luv, George Abbot cast her in Agatha Sue I Love You. Another time she went on, performing opposite Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks saw her and cast her as Eva Braun in his Academy Award-winning film The Producers. Renée married Joseph Bologna in 1965, and the two co-wrote the hit comedy Lovers and Other Strangers, which debuted on Broadway in 1968, with Renée featured in the cast. The couple received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for the 1970 film. Renée and Joe co-wrote and co-starred in Made for Each Other, receiving a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for Best Comedy in 1971. The couple won Emmy Awards for writing the 1973 television special “Acts of Love and Other Comedies,” and were nominated once again the following year for writing the TV movie “Paradise.” They returned to Broadway in 1981, appearing in their play It Had to Be You, and again in 2001 in If you ever leave me … I'm going with you! Renée and Joe co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in the 1984 TV movie “Bedrooms,” the 1989 film adaptation of It Had to Be You, and the 1996 film Love Is All There Is (which introduced a young Angelina Jolie).[13] Together, the prolific couple collaborated on 22 plays, four film screenplays, and nine TV movies and series.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Taylor married actor Joseph Bologna on August 7, 1965, in Stamford, Connecticut. They had a son, Gabriel, who is an actor, and a daughter, Zizi. They were married until Bologna's death in August 2017.[5]

Taylor is Jewish.[14]


  1. ^ "Renee Taylor Biography". Film Reference. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Silverman, Stephen M. (December 15, 2018). Funny Ladies. New Word City. ISBN 978-1640193529. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Goodbye, Dolly". People. October 16, 2000. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
  4. ^ Kashner, Sam (January 6, 2004). "The Making of The Producers". Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Rossi, Rosemary (August 13, 2017). "Joseph Bologna, Star of 'My Favorite Year,' Dies at 82". TheWrap. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  6. ^ "Actor: Renee Taylor". Geffen Playhouse. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  7. ^ "Opposite Day". Tribute Entertainment Group. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  8. ^ Foundas, Scott (March 29, 2013). "Film Review: 'Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor'". Variety. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Busch, Anita (October 26, 2015). "Ken Marino Set To Direct Eugenio Derbez In 'Latin Lover' For Lionsgate's Pantelion". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Castle, George (June 27, 2019). "A LONG JEWISH LIFE ON A DIET: Renee Taylor, who played the mom on TV's 'The Nanny,' is bringing her new one woman show to Skokie". Chicago Jewish News. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  11. ^ Hetrick, Adam (August 1, 2018). "Renée Taylor's My Life on a Diet Extends Off-Broadway". Playbill.
  12. ^ "Tour". My Life on a Diet. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  13. ^ "Cast: Renee Taylor". My Life on a Diet.
  14. ^ "Tweens: Celebrities: Renee Taylor". JUF. Retrieved 2014-02-21.

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