Monday, May 12, 2014

Nancy Malone, Pioneer

You probably never heard of Nancy Malone.

That's OK, although you missed out on one of the more interesting figures from television history. Malone died last Thursday of what is called "leukemia–induced pneumonia." The news of her death did not hit the media until yesterday.

She is probably remembered by casual viewers for her acting roles in numerous TV series. Her acting career went back to the 1950s and stretched into the 1970s. Malone performed on some of the most popular programs of her time; she co–starred with George Lindsey in the last original episode of the Andy Griffith Show, "A Girl for Goober," and, ironically, died almost two years to the day after Lindsey did.

She also appeared in episodes of The Outer Limits and the original Twilight Zone, the latter of which is the TV episode I always associate with her. (She co–starred with Barry Nelson.)

Malone appeared in the fifth and final season of Twilight Zone. Most of the series' fans will tell you it seemed to be running out of steam in that last season, but Malone's episode was probably one of its better ones that year. It managed to do what the best Twilight Zone episodes did — send a little unanticipated chill down one's spine.

There was more to her than the TV episodes in which she appeared, though.

She was a groundbreaking TV director, working on shows like Dynasty, Cagney & Lacey and Star Trek: Voyager at a time when women didn't do much directing.

She made the transition from acting to producer and learned that side of the business, then got into directing in large part because of a bad experience with a director during her producing days.

Malone won an Emmy for her directing and continued to pursue that aspect of the business into the 21st century.