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There's a lot more to Fannie Flagg than just Candid Camera

Updated on May 11, 2011

Author of New York Times Bestsellers. Take a second look at Fannie Flagg.


 Ok, if you're over 50 you probably are thinking about Candid Camera once you saw I had written the name Fannie Flagg.  And yes, I agree. It was a very funny show and one of my personal favorites for its day.

But wait. Take a look at the books listed on this page and see if you see anything unusual.

Did you see that ALL of them were New York Times bestsellers?  Yes.  Fannie Flagg pumps out best seller after best seller and somehow the world hasn't really taken notice! What's up with that?

Most folks still consider her a crazy redhead instead of an accomplished author.

How can that be?

You owe it to yourself to pick up one of her books. What a delight!

After seeing the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, I was given her book Welcome To the World Baby Girl as a gift.  I started it one day. And I finished it that very day.  I was enchanted with her warm characters and her quick, fun plot that was laced with mystery.  What a surprise. Fannie Flagg can write???  You bet. Even Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird gives her high praise. I looked at her bio and found that she indeed began her career as a writer. Later came Alan Funt and Candid Camera.  Have you seen her books?

Published 2010

336 pages

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6593-6

The beloved Fannie Flagg is back and at her irresistible and hilarious best in I Still Dream About You, a comic mystery romp through the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, past, present, and future.

Meet Maggie Fortenberry, a still beautiful former Miss Alabama. To others, Maggie's life seems practically perfect-she's lovely, charming, and a successful real estate agent at Red Mountain Realty. Still, Maggie can't help but wonder how she wound up in her present condition. She had been on her hopeful way to becoming Miss America and realizing her childhood dream of someday living in one of the elegant old homes on top of Red Mountain, with the adoring husband and the 2.5 children, but then something unexpected happened and changed everything.

Maggie graduated at the top of her class at charm school, can fold a napkin in more than forty-eight different ways, and can enter and exit a car gracefully, but all the finesse in the world cannot help her now. Since the legendary real estate dynamo Hazel Whisenknott, beloved founder of Red Mountain Realty, died five years ago, business has gone from bad to worse-and the future isn't looking much better. But just when things seem completely hopeless, Maggie suddenly comes up with the perfect plan to solve it all.

As Maggie prepares to put her plan into action, we meet the cast of high-spirited characters around her. To Brenda Peoples, Maggie's best friend and real estate partner, Maggie's life seems easy as pie. Slender Maggie doesn't have to worry about her figure, or about her Weight Watchers sponsor catching her at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. And Ethel Clipp, Red Mountain's ancient and grumpy office manager with the bright purple hair, thinks the world of Maggie but has absolutely nothing nice to say about their rival Babs "The Beast of Birmingham" Bingington, the unscrupulous estate agent who hates Maggie and is determined to put her out of business.

Maggie has heartbreaking secrets in her past, but through a strange turn of events, she soon discovers, quite by accident, that everybody, it seems-dead or alive-has at least one little secret.

I Still Dream About You: A Novel
I Still Dream About You: A Novel

I Still Dream About You is a wonderful novel that is equal parts Southern charm, murder mystery, and that perfect combination of comedy and old-fashioned wisdom that can be served up only by America’s own remarkable Fannie Flagg.


Published 2000

Ballantine Books

416 pages

ISBN 0804115613

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe spent 36 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. Harper Lee gave a recommendation for the book, saying, "Airplanes and television have removed the Threadgoodes from the Southern scene. Happily for us, Fannie Flagg has preserved a whole community of them in a richly comic, poignant narrative that records the exuberance of their lives, the sadness of their departure. Idgie Threadgoode is a true original: Huckleberry Finn would have tried to marry her!"

"The people in Miss Flagg's book are as real as the people in books can

be. If you put an ear to the pages, you can almost hear the characters

speak. The writer's imaginative skill transforms simple, everyday events

into complex happenings that take on universal meanings." - Chattanooga Times

"This whole literary enterprise shines with honesty, gallantry, and love

of perfect details that might otherwise be forgotten."-Los Angeles Times

"A sparkling gem."-Birmingham News

Published 2001

512 pages

Publisher: Ballantine Books

ISBN 044900578X

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! is the funny, serious, and compelling new novel by Fannie Flagg, author of the beloved Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (and prize-winning co-writer of the classic movie).

Once again, Flagg's humor and respect and affection for her characters shine forth. Many inhabit small-town or suburban America. But this time, her heroine is urban: a brainy, beautiful, and ambitious rising star of 1970s television. Dena Nordstrom, pride of the network, is a woman whose future is full of promise, her present rich with complications, and her past marked by mystery.

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

What reviewers had to say

"[Flagg] keeps it simple, she keeps it bright, she keeps it moving right along—and most of all, she keeps it beloved."

—The New York Times Book Review

"Satisfying . . . [Flagg's] faith in the healing power of small towns and family is refreshing."


"You'd have to be a stone to read Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! without laughing and crying."

—The Christian Science Monitor


Published 2002

Random House

493 pages

ISBN 0679426159

Along with Neighbor Dorothy, the lady with the smile in her voice, whose daily radio broadcasts keep us delightfully informed on all the local news, we also meet Bobby, her ten-year-old son, destined to live a thousand lives, most of them in his imagination; Norma and Macky Warren and their ninety-eight-year-old Aunt Elner; the oddly sexy and charismatic Hamm Sparks, who starts off in life as a tractor salesman and ends up selling himself to the whole state and almost the entire country; and the two women who love him as differently as night and day. Then there is Tot Whooten, the beautician whose luck is as bad as her hairdressing skills; Beatrice Woods, the Little Blind Songbird; Cecil Figgs, the Funeral King; and the fabulous Minnie Oatman, lead vocalist of the Oatman Family Gospel Singers.

The time is 1946 until the present. The town is Elmwood Springs, Missouri, right in the middle of the country, in the midst of the mostly joyous transition from war to peace, aiming toward a dizzyingly bright future.

Once again, Fannie Flagg gives us a story of richly human characters, the saving graces of the once-maligned middle classes and small-town life, and the daily contest between laughter and tears. Fannie truly writes from the heartland, and her storytelling is, to quote Time, "utterly irresistible." ~ From the Hardcover edition.

Standing in the Rainbow (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Standing in the Rainbow (Ballantine Reader's Circle)


"What is so appealing about Elmwood Springs? It's Fannie Flagg's unswerving devotion to folksy, sly humor and her uncanny ability to make a small town a big character in her sweetly engaging fourth novel. . . . Flagg ushers you into the residents' hearts and minds with a flourish. She sits you right down in Neighbor Dorothy's home during her radio broadcast, hands you a plate of homemade cookies, and assures you that putting up your feet and staying a bit is the right thing to do."

-Miami Herald


Published 2007 Reprint

384 pages

Publisher: Ballantine Books

ISBN-10: 0345494881

Combining southern warmth with unabashed emotion and side-splitting hilarity, Fannie Flagg takes readers back to Elmwood Springs, Missouri, where the most unlikely and surprising experiences of a high-spirited octogenarian inspire a town to ponder the age-old question: Why are we here?

Life is the strangest thing. One minute, Mrs. Elner Shimfissle is up in her tree, picking figs, and the next thing she knows, she is off on an adventure she never dreamed of, running into people she never in a million years expected to meet. Meanwhile, back home, Elner's nervous, high-strung niece Norma faints and winds up in bed with a cold rag on her head; Elner's neighbor Verbena rushes immediately to the Bible; her truck driver friend, Luther Griggs, runs his eighteen-wheeler into a ditch-and the entire town is thrown for a loop and left wondering, "What is life all about, anyway?" Except for Tot Whooten, who owns Tot's Tell It Like It Is Beauty Shop. Her main concern is that the end of the world might come before she can collect her social security.

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

In this comedy-mystery, those near and dear to Elner discover something wonderful: Heaven is actually right here, right now, with people you love, neighbors you help, friendships you keep. Can't Wait to Get to Heaven is proof once more that Fannie Flagg "was put on this earth to write" (Southern Living), spinning tales as sweet and refreshing as iced tea on a summer day, with a little extra kick thrown in. ~From the Hardcover edition.


Published 2005

224 pages

Publisher: Fawcett

ISBN 0345480260

Lured by a brochure his doctor gives him after informing him that his emphysema has left him with scarcely a year to live, 52-year-old Oswald T. Campbell abandons wintry Chicago for Lost River, Ala., where he believes he'll be spending his last Christmas. Bestselling author Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes; Standing in the Rainbow) makes this down-home story about good neighbors and the power of love sparkle with wit and humor, as she tells of Oswald's new life in a town with one grocery store and a resident cardinal (or redbird, as the natives call it).

Frances Cleverdon, one of four widows and three single women in town, hopes to fix him up with her sister, Mildred-if only Mildred wouldn't keep dying her hair outrageous colors every few days. The quirky story takes a heartwarming turn when Frances and Oswald become involved in the life of Patsy Casey, an abandoned young girl with a crippled leg. As Christmas approaches, the townspeople and neighboring communities-even the Creoles, whose long-standing feud with everybody else keeps them on the other side of the river-rally round shy, sweet Patsy.

A Redbird Christmas: A Novel
A Redbird Christmas: A Novel

Flagg is a gifted storyteller who knows how to tug at readers' heartstrings, winding up her satisfying holiday tale with the requisite Christmas miracle. ~From Publishers Weekly


(SOUTHERN LIVING MAGAZINE) Fannie Flagg's new book, I Still Dream About You, is set in a place she knows better than any other, her hometown. Birmingham is not just the setting-it's a supporting character, with the city's glamorous past and sometimes complicated present helping to shape a group of women who share a strong bond of friendship. Maggie Fortenberry, Fannie's latest protagonist, longs for Birmingham's glory days, with its beautiful train station, grand theaters, and bustling downtown streets. A 60-year-old former Miss Alabama, Maggie is beautiful and sweet, loved and admired-and so out of sorts with the way her life has turned out that she's busy with a suicide plan involving an egg timer, the Warrior River, and some mighty powerful glue. Classic Fannie.

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man - By Fannie Flagg

Published 2005 Reprint

336 pages

Ballantine Books

ISBN 0345485602

In Fannie Flagg's high-spirited first novel, we meet Daisy Fay Harper in the spring of 1952, where she's "not doing much except sitting around waiting for the sixth grade." When she leaves Shell Beach, Mississippi, in September 1959, she is packed up and ready for the Miss America Pageant, vowing "I won't come back until I'm somebody." But in our hearts she already is.

Sassy and irreverent from the get-go, Daisy Fay takes us on a rollicking journey through her formative years on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. There, at The End of the Road of the South, the family malt shop freezer holds unspeakable things, society maven Mrs. Dot hosts Junior Debutante meetings and shares inspired thoughts for the week (such as "sincerity is as valuable as radium"), and Daisy Fay's Daddy hatches a quick-cash scheme that involves resurrecting his daughter from the dead in a carefully orchestrated miracle. Along the way, Daisy Fay does a lot of growing up, emerging as one of the most hilarious, appealing, and prized characters in modern fiction.

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man: A Novel
Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man: A Novel

What reviewers said:

"A hilarious, endearing novel."—Los Angeles Times

"Sheer unbeatable entertainment." —Cosmopolitan

"Unforgettable and irresistible."—Chattanooga Free Press

"SIDE-SPLITTINGLY FUNNY."—Cleveland Plain Dealer


Fannie Flagg's Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook - By Fannie Flagg

Published 1995

224 pages

Ballantine Books

ISBN-10: 0449910288


--Fort Worth Star Telegram

After the tremendous success of her novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and the beloved movie that followed, author Fannie Flagg received thousands of requests from all over the world asking for recipes from the little cafe of her Alabama childhood that was the model for the cafe in her novel. Now, she joyfully shares those recipes, in what may well be the first cookbook ever written by a satisfied customer rather than a cook! Inside you'll find wonderful recipes for:

* Skinless Fried Chicken * Pork Chops with Apples and Sweet Potatoes * Baked Ham and Pineapple Rings * Baked Turkey with Traditional Cornbread Dressing * Black-eyed Peas * Fried Okra * Creamed Onions * Broccoli Casserole * Southern Cream Gravy * Fried Catfish * Scalloped Oysters * Down Home Crab Cakes * Beaten Biscuits * Corn Pones * Lemon Ice Box Pie * Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie * And much more!

The recipes in Fannie Flagg's Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook are all for delicious hearty happy food that comes with all sorts of things, from gravies to hot sauces (very often the secret's in the sauce). But most of all this food, and this book, comes with love.

Fannie Flagg's Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook: Featuring : Fried Green Tomatoes, Southern Barbecue, Banana Split Cake, and Many Other Great Recipes
Fannie Flagg's Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook: Featuring : Fried Green Tomatoes, Southern Barbecue, Banana Split Cake, and Many Other Great Recipes

"If you liked her novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and if you liked the movie they made from that novel, you'll like this cookbook....It's funny, just like Flagg."

--Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Recommended...All the traditional dishes are here, along with the author's irreverent, irresistible commentary on Southern cooking and culture."

--Library Journal


The GRITS (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life - Foreward by Fannie Flagg

Written by Deborah Ford & Edie Hand

Published 2003

272 pages

Dutton Adult

ISBN-10: 0525947264

Fried Green Tomatoes: The Movie - Written by Fannie Flagg

Produced 1991


Written by Fannie Flagg

Directed by John Avnet

The cast: Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy,

Mary Stuart Masterson, Cicely Tyson,

Chris O'Donnell, Stan Shaw,

Gailard Sartain, and Tim Scott.

"When Evelyn Couch starts having marriage trouble she goes on a trip to visit relatives in a nursing home. There Evelyn meets Ninny Threadgoode who entertains her with the story of Idgie Threadgoode a young woman from Alabama's 1920s. Through the tale of Idgie Threadgoode's animated life, Evelyn finds the inspiration to develop an assertiveness in her own character and a strong friendship with Ninny along the way."

Fried Green Tomatoes (Extended Anniversary Edition)
Fried Green Tomatoes (Extended Anniversary Edition)

Although set in Alabama, the film was shot in the small town of Juliette, in Monroe County. Portions of the film set, including the Whistle Stop Cafe, are now open to visitors. Fannie Flagg makes a cameo appearance in the film (very top photo), playing Kathy Bates' teacher.


Candid Camera: The TV Show - Writer on the show: Fannie Flagg

On Air 1960 -1967

Network: CBS

Producer and Host: Allen Funt


Arthur Godfrey

Durward Kirby

Dorothy Collins

Bess Myerson

Candid Camera, the first and longest running reality-based comedy program, premiered on ABC 10 August 1948 under its original radio title Candid Microphone. The format of the program featured footage taken by a hidden camera of everyday people caught in hoaxes devised by the show's host Allen Funt.

In the world of Candid Camera mailboxes talked to passers by, cars rolled along effortlessly without engines, little boys used x-ray glasses, and secretaries were chained to their desks--all to provoke a reaction from unsuspecting mechanics, clerks, customers and passers by.

The Candid Camera Theme Song:

When it's least expected - you're elected. You're the star today

Smile! You're on Candid Camera!

With a hocus-pocus - you're in focus.

It's your lucky day

Smile! You're on Candid Camera!

It's fun to laugh at yourself. It's a tonic, tried and true.

It's fun to laugh at yourself as other people do.

How's your sense of humor?

There's a rumor: Laughter's on its way.

Smile! You're on Candid Camera!

Smile! You're on Candid Camera!

(CNN) MONTECITO, California -- Long before Fannie Flagg was a bestselling novelist with a highly anticipated new book on shelves, fans will remember she was a successful actress on the Broadway stage and big screen.

But making the jump from that medium to the printed page was delayed by another challenge she had to overcome.

I was, am, severely dyslexic and couldn't spell, still can't spell, says Flagg, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama. So I was discouraged from writing and embarrassed.

It all started in the Miss Alabama contest?

A little background on Fannie...

Her real name is Patricia Neal. But that one was already taken, and so "Fannie Flagg" was born.

Fannie Flagg's writing and show business career began in the fifth grade, when she wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a three-act comedy entitled "The Whopee Girls," which got the audience hysterical and got Fannie expelled from school because it contained the word "martini." "I've always has a dry wit," Fannie explains. She later entered the Miss Alabama contest, winning a scholarship to the Pittsburgh Playhouse, where she distinguished herself as the only girl in the history of the school to fail ballet.

At age nineteen, Fannie began writing and producing television specials, and since then has appeared in more than five hundred television shows and in many motion picture and stage productions. Her credits include Candid Camera, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Love Boat, Love American Style, and films such as Five Easy Pieces, with Jack Nicholson, Stay Hungry and Grease.

Her numerous stage roles include a lead in the Broadway production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Fannie Flagg lives in Montecito, California.

She was a writer on Candid Camera. So was Woody Allen!

Candid Camera's producer, director and regular host Allen Funt

Original run August 10, 1948 - 1951

Candid Camera is a long-running television series, created and produced by Allen Funt, which initially began on radio as Candid Microphone June 28, 1947. After a series of theatrical film shorts, also titled Candid Microphone, Funt's concept came to television on August 10, 1948.

The format has appeared on network, syndicated or cable television in each succeeding decade, as either a regular show or a series of specials.

Funt himself hosted or co-hosted almost all of the TV versions until a 1993 stroke from which he never recovered. Funt's son Peter Funt, who had co-hosted the specials with his father since 1987, is now the producer/host of the format.

The premise of the show involved concealed cameras filming ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations, sometimes involving trick props, such as a desk with drawers that pop open when one is closed or a car with a hidden extra gas tank. When the joke was revealed, victims would be told the show's famous catch phrase, "Smile, you're on Candid Camera." With humor based on putting real people in fabricated situations, the show was very much a precursor to the more recent wave of prank shows such as Punk'd ,Girls Behaving Badly, and Boiling Points.

Writer Woody Allen got his start writing for the show in the 1960s and performed in some scenarios.

Buster Keaton and Muhammad Ali also appeared in Candid Camera segments.

The show often played its hidden camera pranks on celebrities as well. One memorable episode had actress Ann Jillian (who is Lithuanian) scheduled to make a small donation to a Lithuanian charity. When police officers informed her a con artist was behind the charity, they convinced her to donate a much larger amount with the assurance that he would be arrested when he accepted the check. After the arrest attempt, Jillian was told the man was running a legitimate charity, a set-up that forced her into acting as though she had intended to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars all along.

~From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fannie Flagg novels from Amazon - Start reading one of her books today

Got anything to add? Please leave me a comment. Thank you!

What do YOU think?

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    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      I love Fannie Flagg! She is one of my favorites.

    • profile image

      Deltachord 7 years ago

      She certainly is talented in many ways. I laughed so hard while reading Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 9 years ago

      Being from Alabama, I just love Fannie Flagg. I made sure I included her book, Fried Green Tomatoes..." on my lens about making a tomato and cheese sandwich.

      FYI--I have actually eaten at the Whistle Stop!

    • blue22d profile image

      blue22d 10 years ago

      Hi Budgetingmom, great lens. I loved to watch Candid Camera. As a fan you may remember one that went something like this: Candid Camera went to, I believe, it was Blyth, California (somewhere in the desert) and took a gas station store and converted it over to look like a border check station for Canada. They, as people pulled in for gas, they convinced them they were at the border. I just loved the looks on some of the faces.

      So, I re-lived a great experience as well as discovered Fanny Flag. Thanks so much for this lense.

    • profile image

      tdlough 10 years ago

      I just finished reading A Redbird Christmas and loved it! It was my first Fannie Flagg novel, but will definitely not be my last! Thanks!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 10 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I clearly remember Fannie Flagg from Candid Camera. It brings back wonderful memories to read and learn more about her. Thank you for your lovely lens!


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