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Queens Chronicle

(1993) Drescher didn’t let woes get her down

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Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 2:39 pm, Thu Nov 14, 2013.

If only fairy tales could last forever in real life as they do in the world of make-believe, Queens native Fran Drescher would have undoubtedly taken her place alongside the likes of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

By the time Drescher was attending Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, she was a beauty pageant contestant, nearly capturing the title of Miss New York Teenager in 1973.

Shortly after graduation, she made a small splash as a dancer and shared a brief scene with handsome leading man John Travolta in the blockbuster film “Saturday Night Fever” — famously asking his character if he’s as good in bed as he is on the dance floor — paving the way for a career on the silver screen.

Just three years after that, in true storybook fashion, she married her high school sweetheart, Peter Marc Jacobson, who was to become her longtime life and business partner.

In 1993, she reached the pinnacle of success when the pair created the sitcom “The Nanny,” a long-running CBS series starring Drescher in the title role. With her unmistakable New York accent, nasal voice and signature laugh, she won instant acclaim, a huge fan following, nominations for Emmy and Golden Globe awards and a place for herself in the annals of local history.

Born Francine Joy Drescher on Sept. 30, 1957 in Kew Gardens to a bridal consultant mother and naval systems analyst father, she was a Hillcrest classmate of fellow entertainer-to-be Ray Romano, and she went on to attend Queens College. She would eventually be seen in over two dozen movies, including “American Hot Wax,” “Ragtime” and “This Is Spinal Tap.”

But along the way harsh reality would continue to rear its head.

In 1985, two armed robbers broke into Drescher’s Los Angeles apartment and raped her, with Jacobson forced to watch.

At the height of “The Nanny’s” success, Drescher and Jacobson separated. They divorced in 1999, after 21 years of marriage. Sometime later, Jacobson came out as gay.

And in 2000, Drescher’s world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with uterine cancer, leading her to undergo a radical hysterectomy.

Ever anxious to make the best out of every situation, Drescher wrote a book about the experience, displaying her sense of humor in its title, “Cancer Schmancer.” She also launched a movement that shares the book’s name and promotes early cancer detection in women.

Today, Drescher lives in Malibu, Calif. She and Jacobson remain friends and business partners. She has been occupied primarily with frequent television guest spots.

Most recently, she and Jacobson created a new television series, “Happily Divorced,” inspired by their shared lives together. The show ran for 34 episodes over two seasons before being canceled in August. But who knows what Drescher might do next?

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