Gail Fisher (August 18, 1935 – December 2, 2000) was an American actress who was one of the first black women to play substantive roles in American television. She was best known for playing the role of secretary Peggy Fair on the television detective series Mannix from 1968 through 1975, a role for which she won two Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy Award; she was the first black woman to win either award. She also won an NAACP Image Award in 1969.
Fisher and Mark Stewart (Mannix, 1970)
|Born||August 18, 1935|
Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||December 2, 2000 (aged 65)|
Culver City, California, U.S.
(m. 1964; div. 1972)
Robert A. Walker
(m. 1973; div. ?)
The youngest of five children, Fisher was born in Orange, New Jersey. Her father died when she was two years old, and she was raised by her mother, Ona Fisher, who supported her family with a home-operated hair-styling business while living in the Potter's Crossing neighborhood of Edison, New Jersey. She graduated from Metuchen High School in Metuchen, New Jersey. During her teenaged years, she was a cheerleader and entered several beauty contests, winning the titles of Miss Transit, Miss Black New Jersey, and Miss Press Photographer.
In a contest sponsored by Coca-Cola, Fisher won the opportunity to spend two years studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As a student of acting in New York City, she worked with Lee Strasberg  and became a member of the Repertory Theater at Lincoln Center, where she worked with Elia Kazan and Herbert Blau. As a young woman, she also worked as a model.
Fisher made her first television appearance in 1960 at age 25, appearing in the NTA Film Network program The Play of the Week. Also during the early 1960s, she appeared in a television commercial for All laundry detergent, which she said made her "the first black female—no, make that black, period—to make a national TV commercial, on camera, with lines." In 1965, Herbert Blau cast her in a theatrical production of Danton's Death.
She first appeared in Mannix during the second season, when Mannix left the detective firm Intertect and set up shop as a private investigator. She became the second African American woman after Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek to show prominently on weekly television. In 1968, she made guest appearances on the TV series My Three Sons, Love, American Style, and Room 222. In 1970, her work on Mannix was honored when she received the Emmy Award for outstanding performance by an actress in a dramatic supporting role, becoming the first African American woman to do so. In 1971 Fisher became the first African American woman to win a Golden Globe, and won her second in 1973. After Mannix was canceled in 1975, she appeared on television at an average of once a year, guest starring on popular shows like Fantasy Island, Knight Rider, General Hospital, The White Shadow and more.
Fisher was married and divorced twice. She had two daughters, Samara and Jole, from her 1964 marriage to John Levy. Her marriage to Wali Muhammad (Walter Youngblood), famed cornerman to Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali, ended in divorce when he changed religions. Wali was also an assistant minister to Malcolm X at Nation of Islam Mosque No. 7.
|1960||The New Girl||The New Girl in the Office||Short film co–written by Lewis Freedman & Lester Cooper and directed by Freedman|
|1987||Mankillers||Joan Hanson||Action film written and directed by David A. Prior|
|1959–60||The Play of the Week||Joyce Lane||Episode: "Simply Heavenly"|
|Guest||Episode: "Climate of Eden"|
|1962||The Defenders||The Singer||Episode: "Grandma TNT"|
|1967||He & She||Helen||Episode: "One of Our Firemen is Missing"|
|The Second Hundred Years||Young Matron||Episode: "Luke's First Christmas"|
|1968||My Three Sons||Carla||Episode: "Gossip, Incorporated"|
|1968–1975||Mannix||Peggy Fair||147 episodes|
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1972, 1974)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1971–1973)
|1969||Love, American Style||Mercy||Segment: "Love and the Hustler"|
|1970||Insight||Mrs. Carter||Episode: "The Incident on Danker Street"|
|1971||Room 222||Diana Brown||Episode: "Welcome Back, Miss Brown"|
|Love, American Style||Penny||Segment: "Love and the Baby"|
|1972||Every Man Needs One||Pauline Kramer||Made-for-TV-film written by Carl Kleinschmitt and directed by Jerry Paris|
|1975||Medical Center||Bonnie Horne||Episode: "Street Girl"|
|1979||Fantasy Island||Dr. Frantz||Episode: "Hit Man/The Swimmer"|
|1982||General Hospital||Judge Heller||Recurring|
|1983||Knight Rider||Thelma||Episode: "Short Notice"|
|1985||Hotel||Fran Willis||Episode: "Hearts and Minds"|
|1986||He's the Mayor||Lila||Episode: "Take My Father Please"|
|1990||Donor||Secretary||Made-for-TV-film written by Michael Braverman and directed by Larry Shaw|
Awards and honorsEdit
|1970||Won||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama||Mannix|
|1971||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama||Mannix|
|1972||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama||Mannix|
|1973||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama||Mannix|
|1971||Won||Golden Globe Award||Best Supporting Actress - Television Series||Mannix|
|1972||Nominated||Golden Globe Award||Best Supporting Actress - Television Series||Mannix|
|1973||Won||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress - Television Series Drama||Mannix|
|1974||Nominated||Golden Globe Award||Best Supporting Actress - Television Series||Mannix|
- The reference book African Americans in the Performing Arts says that Fisher died of lung cancer.
- "Gail Fisher". African American Registry. Archived from the original on October 4, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2009. The article cites Jet as its source.
- Otfinoski 2004, pp. 68–69.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence (February 20, 2001). "Gail Fisher, 65, TV Actress Who Won Emmy for 'Mannix'". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 20, 2001.
- Laurie Jarmon (1995), Gail Fisher, in Notable Black American Women, Jessie Carney Smith, editor. ISBN 0-8103-9177-5. Pages 223–224.
- Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
- Associated Press Staff (February 22, 2001). "TV Actress Gail Fisher Dies at 65". Associated Press. New York City: Associated Press, Inc. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
- "SecondsOut Boxing News - Thomas Hauser - Mike Tyson and Other Notes". Secondsout.com. October 26, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
- Allah, The (January 22, 2012). "The Allah Team™: Wali Mohammed (R.I.P.)". Allahteam.blogspot.com. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
- "Mannix Girl Orders Spouse To Stay Away From Her". Jet. July 26, 1973. p. 57. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Mankillers. Olive Films (Blu-ray). Chicago: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. September 13, 2016. ASIN B01HNBX05A. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- Mankillers. Olive Films (DVD). Chicago: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. September 13, 2016. ASIN B01HNBX050. Retrieved March 18, 2019.