Classic Television Memories: African-Americans in 1960's Television: Gail Fisher (Mannix)

Gail Fisher and Mike Connors
Gail Fisher and Mike Connors

Welcome to this episode of Classic Television Memories. This is the second in the series on African-Americans in 1960's Television. In case you missed my last hub, I kicked off this series with Bill Cosby's contribution on the series I Spy (1965-1968).


Mannix Opening

Mannix premiered on September 7,1967, and lasted until April 10, 1975. It is one of many detective series that permeated the television airwaves in the '60s. The show focuses on Joe Mannix, once a disgruntled employee of Intertect, a high-tech detective agency, ran by Lou Wickersham (Joseph Campanella). Mannix leaves Intertect to hang out his shingle in front of his own private detective agency. One of the differences between his former job, and his new one, is the addition of his secretary, who is the subject of this hub, the lovely, (Ahhh!) Gail Fisher, aka Peggy Fair.

The three-time beauty contest winner, model, and award winning actress was born in Orange, New Jersey in 1935. In a contest sponsored by Pepsi Cola, she won the opportunity to study acting in New York City working with famed acting teacher and director Lee Strassberg. This led to her becoming a member of the Repertory Theatre at Lincoln Center, working with director Elia Kazan, and director and actor Herbert Lau.

Miss Fisher's foray into television came in 1960, when she appeared in a syndicated series called Play of The Week at age 25. This led to an All Laundry Detergent commercial in 1961.

Gail first appeared as Peggy Fair, detective Joe Mannix' secretary in the series' second season. She was to Mannix, as Della Street was to Perry Mason. She was an integral part of the show, bringing wit, sophistication, as well as beauty.

Her role on the show through the years of 1968-1975 garnered her several Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, and wins, with her taking home one Emmy, and two Golden Globe awards for either the Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress categories. She became the first African-American female to win an Emmy Award.

During Mannix' run until its end in 1975, she appeared on several television shows, including Love American Style (1969-1971), Medical Center (1975), and My Three Sons (1968), to name a few.

Gail Fisher, actress and television pioneer died in 2000, in Los Angeles of renal failure, leaving for us a rich legacy of her work.

That's all until next fime. But before I leave, enjoy this clip from Mannix, featuring Gail fisher.



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