A&E: Actress Finds Inspiration in Food—or Lack Thereof

“The Nanny” star Renée Taylors brings her new one-woman show to the Kravis Center, Dec. 18 – 22. Credit: Jeremy Daniel.

Inspiration sometimes strikes when least expected. For actress Renée Taylor, it was during her stint performing Nora Ephron’s play, “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” a series of monologues in which women relate critical life events to the clothes they were wearing at the time.

“I remember my life in terms of what I was eating and what diet I was on at the time,” said Taylor, who brings her one-woman show, “My Life on a Diet,” to the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Dec. 18 – 22.

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A self-described diet junkie who used to think that if she ate like a star, she just might look like one, Taylor dishes out both juicy anecdotes and weight loss tips from Hollywood legends such as Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. 

She got an early start: “I placed third in the New York Daily News chubby child contest, but I was just pleasingly plump,” Taylor recalled.

She tried Vogue magazine’s champagne diet, drinking two glasses of sparkling wine before every meal. That proved to be an expensive experiment because cheap champagne has more calories. (“I became a $200-a-day drunk.”) Then there was the amphetamine diet and another in which she sustained herself on only 2 oz. of liquid protein three times a day, both with short-lived results, if any at all.

“I read in the New York Times that people were dying from that liquid protein diet, so I called up my friend Lainie Kazan, who was also doing it, and she had lost 40 lbs.,” Taylor exclaimed.

Audiences are eating up her show, literally. Taylor has been performing a month-long residency at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., to raving reviews and enthusiastic ovations.

Taylor is best known for her role as Fran Fine’s mother, Sylvia, on TV’s “The Nanny,” but she has been acting since her childhood, racking up a long list of credits on both screen and stage.

She said her bucket list role would have to be Mama Rose in “Gypsy,” “because ‘everybody’ wants to do ‘Gypsy’.” Taylor credits her love of acting to her own mother, who had theatrical aspirations from an early age, but instead supported her talented daughter, much like the iconic character.

Live theater “is my favorite thing,” she said. “You get instant feedback from the audience. Elaine May once said that I couldn’t be a singer because I would have to wait until the end of the song for applause.”

Taylor has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ community. One of her fondest memories is riding in the Stonewall 50 parade in New York City last June.

“It was so exciting. We were the second float in the parade and I was on there with Latrice [Royale], Lorna Luft, Randy Rainbow and Donatella Versace. They played Judy Garland songs and it was just magical—from [Greenwich] Village all the way uptown on Fifth Avenue,” Taylor said.

Renee Taylor appears in “My Life on a Diet,” Dec. 18 – 22 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. Tickets start at $50 at Kravis.org.