Renee Taylor will always be remembered as Sylvia Fine, the mother in the TV series The Nanny, but her accomplishments are many. She created 22 plays, four films and nine TV movies and series with her husband Joseph Bologna. They appeared on Broadway with Lovers and Other Strangers, It Had to Be You and If You Ever Leave Me…I'm Going With You! They received an Academy Award nomination for the film adaptation of Lovers and Other Strangers.
The couple won Emmy Awards in 1973 for writing Acts of Love and Other Comedies and were nominated again the following year for the television movie Paradise.
Taylor has many stage credits including Nora and Delia Ephron's Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Luv and Agatha Sue, I Love You. She had film roles in Mel Brooks' The Producers, Neil Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers and most recently in How to Be a Latin Lover. For TV, she appeared on HBO's Dream On, How I Met Your Mother and currently Amazon's Gown and Out in Beverly Hills.
My Life on a Diet follows Taylor's adventures with food and diets over the years in a one woman show that has her taking home trophies and talking about celebrities like Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe and Barbra Streisand.
The funny and talented lady talked on the phone right before her return to the Windy City.
Windy City Times: Hello, Ms. Taylor, I'm calling you from Chicago!
Renee Taylor: I love Chicago and it's one of my favorite places. I did a play there with my husband called If You Ever Leave Me… I'm Going with You!
WCT: Tell me about My Life on a Diet.
RT: Did you see Nora Ephron's play Love, Loss and What I Wore?
RT: It was about her life in terms of what she wore. My life I remember in terms of what I was eating. I will remember something because it was when I was on The Lance Chance Diet or eating a particular food.
WCT: What is your favorite food?
RT: It's a tie between spaghetti and pizza.
WCT: What do you think of Chicago style pizza?
RT: Pretty great. I remember when I was going there that author Judy Mazel, who did The Beverly Hills Diet, said the best thing about Chicago is the pizza. Maybe they will serve it at the theater.
WCT: I am trying to eat better to get ready for summer.
RT: I can tell you all the healthy things I am on. I am drinking pineapple juice with shaved, frozen chicken livers in it. That's for strength and endurance. I am also taking goat placenta. Have you ever heard of that?
WCT: Yes, but never tried it. What does it do for you?
RT: It helps with endurance. I am going to be doing seven shows a week. When you are in your late thirties, very late thirties, you take all kinds of interesting supplements.
WCT: Seven shows a week is like doing a Broadway run, isn't it?
RT: Yes, it is. When I appeared in Chicago in the past, people said to me, "I've never been to the theater before." I thought that was awesome. They could have stayed home and watched television.
Every day in New York I go to the theater practically. This week I am seeing Fiddler on the Roof in yiddish and The Cher Show, again.
WCT: The Cher Show started in Chicago first.
RT: How was it there?
WCT: It was good. I interviewed Bob Mackie for it.
RT: He was amazing. He was upset at the Tonys that they didn't let him talk more.
WCT: You have had a long relationship with Barbra Streisand. She opened for you in the past?
RT: Yes. The moment I saw her I knew she would be a big star. I talk about it in this show. She was very insecure and would always ask me what song she should sing first. Years later, she called me from The White House and asked what she should open with. I said, "Barbra, I told you 10 years ago and you didn't listen. Look where it got you!"
I would say to her that I would open with "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die."
WCT: Sounds like there's some gay content in your show.
RT: I will be in the WorldPride parade in New York on the Stonewall float. I will be dressed in red, with a red hat, earrings, umbrella, dress and sneakers. I will send you a picture.
There are some other gay icons mentioned in the show. Fran Drescher came to see the show in New York and Beverly Hills. Fran is doing a cruise on Monday and I'm going to entertain and introduce her.
WCT: You two must be really close.
RT: Well, we have been together 26 years. The Nanny is still going big. It's crazy!
WCT: Your late husband directed My Life on a Diet?
RT: We were working on it for a long time. It played all over. Then he died and I wasn't going to do it. He came to me and asked me to do it, so I did.
WCT: It must be a very personal show.
RT: Oh, it is. I talk about meeting him, falling in love with him and how great it was, what we ate and what his family ate.
WCT: Doesn't food just bring people together?
RT: Or not. When I first cooked dinner for him, he asked me if it was spaghetti from a can. I told him, "Yeah, it's Chef Boyardee!" It was his first time having spaghetti from a can.
WCT: You were inducted into the Bronx Jewish Hall of Fame for this show and Skokie has a large Jewish community, so your tickets should sell well.
RT: They are going to love my chopped chicken liver drink!
WCT: Where is My Life on a Diet going next?
RT: We are going to play in New Jersey for a month at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center and then to Florida in Palm Beach, Toronto and Palm Desert, California. I've got pretty big theaters to fill, Palm Desert has 1600 seats!
My Life on a Diet fills up at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., July 16 through Aug. 4 with tickets at NorthShoreCenter.org or by calling 847-673-6300.