Nancy Malone, a ground-breaking and Emmy-winning director-producer, Emmy-nominated actress and the first woman VP at a major studio, died May 8 at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif., as the result of pneumonia that arose from complications of leukemia. She was 78.
Shortly after producing her first TV movie, “Winner Take All,” starring Shirley Jones, for NBC, Malone joined 20th Century Fox’s TV department as director of TV development. Soon she was named vice president of television, becoming the first woman VP at a major studio. During her time at Fox, Malone co-founded Women in Film.
Malone was an actress for decades, appearing extensively on TV and on stage, before moving behind the camera and into the executive suite and continued acting even after doing so, including a supporting role in the 1973 Burt Reynolds starrer “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing.”
She joined Tomorrow Entertainment as a story analyst in 1971 and established Lilac Productions in 1975 to produce TV films.
Her producing credits include “Sherlock Holmes in New York,” with Roger Moore and John Huston; “Like Mom,” “Like Me,” with Linda Lavin; “The Great Pretender,” with Billy Dee Williams; “I Married a Monster”; and The Violation of Sarah McDavid,” with Patty Duke. She developed and produced a one-hour comedy for CBS, “Husbands, Wives and Lovers.” “The Nurses” pilot followed, as well as a season of “The Bionic Woman.”
Malone won an Emmy for co-producing “Bob Hope: The First 90 Years.”
During the 1980s Malone completed the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women and began her directing career. Her first full-length film, “There Were Times, Dear,” starring Shirley Jones and Len Cariou, appeared on PBS and was among the first films to center on Alzheimer’s disease.
It was accompanied by a NIMH outreach program. This film was used as a fundraiser by various Alzheimer’s support chapters around the country.
Malone’s first assignment as a director of episodic television was episode 100 of “Dynasty,” after which she became a staff director at Aaron Spelling Productions. She directed multiple episodes of “Hotel,” “Melrose Place,” “Dynasty,” and “Beverly Hills, 90210″ and went on to direct “Knots Landing,” “Sisters,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “Star Trek Voyager,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Judging Amy,” “Starman,” “The Guardian,” “Resurrection Blvd.” and a “Bob Hope Christmas Special.”
She recently co-produced and directed a live event at Ellis Island honoring Bob Hope and starring Michael Feinstein, and Malone co-produced and directed 2011’s “The NY Pops Tribute to Bob Hope at Carnegie Hall.”
Malone also directed for the theater, including “All the Way Home,” “Howie the Rookie” and “Big Maggie,” starring Tyne Daly. For L..A Theatre Works she directed “Agnes of God,” “Prelude to a Kiss” and “The Country Girl”; for the Ford Theatre in Los Angeles she directed “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”
Malone also taught acting and directing, and she conducted master classes at: UCLA, Piscator Institute of New York, Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, National University of Ireland, Galway; the Stella Adler Academy; Women in Film; and the American Film Institute, among other places. In the spring of 2013, Nancy taught a master class at the Steinhardt School at NYU.
In 2010, at the request of the Performing Arts Section of the UCLA Library: Special Collections, she organized and presented her papers and memorabilia to that facility for permanent research and record keeping.
She served as chair of the WIF Foundation and established the Crystal Award, the Dorothy Arzner Award, the Norma Zarky Award and the Founders Award. The Nancy Malone Directors Award was named after her for her contributions to the Film Finishing Fund.
Born in Queens Village, Long Island, N.Y., Malone began her career at age 7 as a model for ads ranging from Kellogg’s Cereal to Ford cars and Macy’s. At 10 she was chosen for the cover of Life magazine’s 10th anniversary issue, “The Typical American Girl.”
She was signed by William Morris and began her acting career in a show broadcast live on the DuMont TV Network and appeared in one of TV’s first soap operas, “The First Hundred Years.”
Malone joined the Actors Studio and studied with Stella Adler as well as David Craig and Milton Katselas and studied ballet with Nora Kaye.
At 15 she made her Broadway debut as the title character in “Time Out for Ginger,” co-starring Melvyn Douglas. After the Broadway run, she toured the U.S. in the play for a year. When she returned to New York, Charles Laughton chose her to play Jenny Hill in a production of Shaw’s “Major Barbara,” followed by “The Seven Year Itch,” “A Place for Polly” (a pre-Broadway tryout); “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” “The Chalk Garden” with Judith Anderson, “A Touch of the Poet” with Helen Hayes, and “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.”
Along with her work in theater, she also starred in the television series “Naked City,” for which she received an Emmy nomination for best actress; played Clara Varner in TV series “The Long Hot Summer”; and appeared in “The Killing of Randy Webster “and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” She guested on “Bonanza,” “The Fugitive,” “The Partridge Family,” “Big Valley,” “The Rockford Files,” “Outer Limits,” “Run for Your Life,” “Dr. Kildare,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Lou Grant,” among other shows.
Malone is survived by her colleague and longtime friend, Linda Hope.