Fran Drescher of The Babysitter spoke about a cheeky prank she pulled on stage in front of a late royal that made her “laugh and slap her knee.”
Numerous celebrities have starred in the hit sitcom The Babysitter, but there was one legendary star who managed to surprise Fran Drescher.
The actress, who played the iconic Fran Fine on the cult series from 1993 to 1999, welcomed many stars to the set, but one of them made a lasting impression.
“Everyone has always been very nice,” said the 64-year-old. Fox News. “But Elizabeth Taylor was really warm, very generous. She sat on the couch on the set and whoever wanted to stand behind her and take a picture with her could. And the on-set photographer did it for both the cast and crew. She was very friendly to everyone.”
“But the funny thing is that if you wanted to take a picture, you had to pay for retouching,” Drescher chuckled. “Renee Taylor, who played Sylvia Fine, the nanny’s mother on the show, said, ‘I’ll pay, but make sure you give me everything Liz gets!’
Drescher also had fond memories of Rocketman.
“It took us a long time to get Elton John, but in the end we got him,” said Drescher. “We were told that he loves red roses in his dressing room, so we filled his dressing room with red roses. It was just covered up. He was really flattered. And it was a great episode. But we were genuinely grateful that at least one of these stars was on the show.
“And it was a lot of fun coming up with ideas because we could write whatever we wanted. [The character] Mr. Sheffield was in show business, so it made sense for us to come up with names. And it was easy to do. We could come up with whatever we wanted. This has never been the main theme of the story. These stars always started something that made Fran’s life difficult, and she always had problems with Mr. Sheffield.”
After a successful career of many years, Drescher was honored this week at the Hollywood Museum along with Michael Feinstein and Jeri Jewell of Facts from life prominence at the opening of the “Real to Reel” exhibition in partnership with council member Mitch O’Farrell.
The exhibition, which coincides with LGBTQ Heritage Month, aims to “tell the story of the milestones and influence of LGBT characters and storylines in Hollywood, from early stereotypes to contemporary representations.”
Drescher said she was grateful for the recognition as well as her many accomplishments, including meeting Princess Diana.
“We were both at the CFDA Awards in New York and I was the host,” Drescher recalled. “At that time, Mr. Blackwell had a list of the best and worst outfits. She was on the list of the most stylishly dressed, and I was on the list of the worst. I remember her standing in the middle of that cocktail party and there were probably 100 people in that one room.
“Next to her was a woman who knew every person in the room. Well, I hurried to her, because there was no way I could be intimidated. I was going to cut through the crowd and get to her, because that was probably my only chance. And like the nanny, I’ve always been a carpe diem girl. Live by one day.”
“I kept apologizing and forgiving me,” Drescher continued. “When I finally got to the center of the room, the woman next to her said, “This is Fran Drescher. She’s on a very popular show right now. A very funny actress. I shook her hand and said: “When the history books are written, you will be the heroine of this story.” She looked at me—I could still see her looking at me right now—and then she said, “Oh, thank you. It’s so cute. And I meant every word.”
But Drescher wasn’t done impressing the Princess of Wales. Rising to the stage, the star made sure to share a joke that she worked on especially for her.
“I said, ‘I met Princess Diana backstage and I told her, ‘Princess, we’re both on Mr Blackwell’s list,'” Drescher said. “And she said to me, ‘Yes, but I was on the best-dressed list and you were on the worst-dressed list. And I said, “Yes, but you have Princess Margaret on your list.” I have Madonna and Demi [Moore] in my. You’re on the wrong list, princess!
“I saw her sitting in the front row. Potbellied over. Laughing and slapping his knee, bouncing his foot. Laugh with real guttural, sincere laughter. I could see her now sitting in the front row in a blue dress with a pearl necklace and just laughing. She was so good-natured and not elitist at all. And she was surprised. She had no idea what I was going to say. But I’m a comedy writer and I knew the public would eat it with a spoon. This is an important moment in my career.”
Drescher said she felt blessed today. She has endured a painful past, including a horrific rape at gunpoint in 1985, a divorce from her 21-year-old husband – Peter Marc Jacobson – who has come out publicly as gay, and was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2000 after two years of misdiagnosis by several doctors.
In 2007, the survivor created the Cancer Schmancer Movement, a non-profit organization whose goal is to educate people on how to identify and eliminate the causes of cancer and other diseases from their daily lives. That same year, she helped persuade Congress to pass the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act, which became law.
In January, Drescher was elected president of SAG-AFTRA, which represents some 160,000 performers and media professionals. She also wrote the foreword for a new picture book, N for Babysitter, which references the 90s show. 100% of proceeds go to Cancer Schmancer.
“I think it’s important to keep pushing the idea that each of us should be the change we want in this world,” she said. “And I am very proud of Nanny. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. And it has certainly stood the test of time.
“Honestly, he never went off the air for almost 30 years. So people keep rediscovering it. It was accepted on TikTok and began streaming on HBO Max. I think it has remained very relevant. I have a young audience. But I’m also fearless when it comes to talking about important things.
“I came out the other side — for the better,” she added. “You must play the hand you are dealt with grace, elegance and courage. I have been very lucky and fortunate in my life. I started from very humble beginnings. My father worked two jobs when I was very young. It’s been an incredible ride with very low lows… but I’ve learned some very important life lessons that help me move on. I was very lucky.”
This article originally appeared in Fox News and has been reproduced with permission.