2014-01-30 / Arts & Entertainment News

Actress promises steady diet of laughter


TAYLOR TAYLOR You may remember Renee Taylor as Sylvia, the ultimate Jewish mother, on television’s “The Nanny.”

She is all that.

She’s in town for a monthlong run in her one-woman show, “My Life on a Diet: Confessions of a Hollywood Diet Junkie,” running through Feb. 9 at The Plaza Theatre in Manalapan.

“It’s amazing. The people are amazing. It’s just been, I don’t know, I can’t say enough words. How about magical and enchanting?” she said of her interaction with Plaza Theatre audiences.

“I tell them about all the diets I’ve been on. It’s really been a fun experience,” Ms. Taylor said by phone from the Eau Resort and Spa in Manalapan, where she was staying for the Plaza Theatre run. “I guess they’ve been watching me for years.”

Decades is more like it.

Ms. Taylor and her husband, Joe Bologna, are fairly ubiquitous each season on area stages in such shows as “If You Ever Leave Me, I’m Going With You.”

Joe Bologna directs his wife, Renee Taylor, in “My Life on a Diet.” 
COURTESY PHOTO Joe Bologna directs his wife, Renee Taylor, in “My Life on a Diet.” COURTESY PHOTO They made their reputations on Broadway with such shows as “Lovers and Other Strangers” and that show’s movie version, for which they received a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination in 1970. They also had success on Broadway with “It Had to Be You,” which also was turned into a movie.

They are known for working together, so it’s no surprise that Mr. Bologna is directing “My Life on a Diet.”

“My husband encouraged me. I had written a book, ‘My Life on a Diet.’ Everybody’s on a diet,” she said. “He said, ‘Yes, that’s why everyone would be interested.’”

She performed the show last year at the Jewish community center in Boca Raton, and producers from The Plaza came to see it, liked the show and booked her.

“From here, I’m going to be playing California and San Diego,” she said.

For Ms. Taylor, coming to South Florida is like coming home.

She was born in the Bronx, but grew up in Miami Beach.

“I have great memories. Whenever I come here, I go to Miami Beach, and hug a tree on Meridian Avenue,” she said. That tree is in front of the building in which her family lived.

“When I first went there, South Beach was where the poor people lived,” she said, musing that the city is now an international hub.

She has stayed busy since “The Nanny” ended in 1999.

Most recently, she had a recurring role on Fran Drescher’s TV Land sitcom, “Happily Divorced,” which ended last year.

And as if that’s not enough, at the age of 80, she is developing a line of skincare products, including Renee Taylor’s Face Love.

“We were in the Oscar suites in California and gave them to the nominees,” she said.

“I just love show business and I love being an actress and I love meeting famous people and I just always had fun and thought if I could be in movies if I could act on stage that would be a great thing. I never saw where it could go.”

She studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York. Classmates included Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Martin Landau, Steve McQueen and Louis Gossett Jr.

She remains star-struck; never mind her own fame.

“I met Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly. I’m still a big fan. I go to the Academy Awards and ask people to take pictures with me, so I’ll always be a fan.”

No star is safe, she said.

“Just the other day I was at an Oscars party, I went over and asked them to take pictures with me. I still go to big stars, like Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta, and ask them to take pictures with me.”

So how is she spending her time in South Florida?

“I’m going to the flea market in Fort Lauderdale. I love to go to Miami Beach and have lunch. I love to go to Palm Beach and walk on Worth Avenue.”

Her husband provides inspiration.

“He says, ‘You see something you like?’ And I say, ‘I like that necklace.’ He goes in and it’s $68,000. It was the thought that counts,” she said, laughing.

Well, that and the sense of humor. ¦

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