‘The Nanny’: Famous Guest Stars Who Appeared on the Sitcom

The Nanny was on the air from 1993 to 1999, during which the show managed to snag some top-tier guest stars (and future big names) to appear across from Fran Drescher and Charles Shaughnessy. So, who were some of the most famous faces to show up on The Nanny?

Fran Drescher and Ray Charles in The Nanny.jpg
THE NANNY, episode: “Fair Weather Fran” . Featuring Fran Drescher (as Fran Fine) and Ray Charles (as Sammy Portnoy | CBS Photo Archive

1. Bette Midler 

The Divine Miss M appeared in season 4, episode 23 of The Nanny, “You Bette Your Life. In the episode, Fran assists Maxwell and Midler with a charity auction that they are hosting. And, Fran takes a child prodigy to Yetta’s nursing home. Yet, when a resident dies, the young and traumatized piano player swears he will never play again. 

2. Rosie O’Donnell

In season 4, episode 23 of The Nanny, “The Rosie Show,” Fran gets picked from the audience during an episode of The Rosie O’Donnell Show, and she finds herself giving parenting advice to those watching. Fran’s celebrity begins to grow, and Maxwell worries that he’ll lose her. 

3. Ray Charles 

Ray Charles appeared on The Nanny four times as Sammy; he portrayed Yetta’s (Fran’s grandmother) love interest. The two boasted cute and funny scenes together in multiple episodes. Charles even got to play some blues notes and sing “My Yiddishe Mama” one time around.

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4. Cloris Leachman 

Cloris Leachman portrayed Maxwell’s childhood nanny in season one of the sitcom. She came to visit and criticized Fran’s “modern” approach to the job. She wanted Fran to wear a uniform and sit in the kitchen away from the family when they ate dinner. Leachman’s character also boasted a fling with Niles years prior— and a former flame was reignited when she came to stay. 

5. Twiggy 

Twiggy portrays Maxwell’s sister Jocelyn Sheffield, but only in the character’s first appearance, as she is later portrayed by Sophie Ward. 

6. Rita Moreno 

Rita Moreno plays a gym teacher in the episode of The Nanny titled “The Gym Teacher.” The episode follows Fran and Maggie, as Fran finds out that her old, tyrannical former physical education teacher is now Maggie’s teacher. 

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7. Patti LaBelle 

Patti LaBelle appears in season 1, episode 22 of The Nanny titled “I Don’t Remember Mama.” The episode is quite sad, with Grace realizing she doesn’t remember her mother after being told she can’t compete in a mother-daughter competition with Fran on Mother’s Day. When they are later accepted to compete, they must perform after Patti LaBelle and her daughter. Talk about a tough act to follow. 

8. Bob Barker 

Bob Barker appears in the episode “When You Pish Upon a Star” as himself; the episode focused on Fran who persuades a child star — who is set to lead one of Maxwell’s upcoming productions — to leave showbiz behind. 

9. James Marsden

James Marsden appeared on The Nanny before he was the well-known actor in 27 Dresses, Enchanted, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc. He portrays one of Maggie’s first love interests in season one.