Gail Fisher loved playing Peggy Fair on Mannix, but the character wasn't her style

Peggy was a coffee-serving secretary; Gail was a trailblazing legend.

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Sometimes actors play their roles so well that, as an audience, we can't seem to separate them from their roles. Even trailblazing actress Gail Fisher, who broke barriers in Hollywood, found herself explaining how she was different from her most-known part.

Fisher portrayed Peggy Fair on the television show Mannix. The character was a secretary, and the actress brought a lot of importance to the role. She gained two Golden Globes and an Emmy award for it. When people saw her, they thought she was like Peggy in real life.

In an interview with Daily News in 1972, Fisher talked about how much people would identify her with the character. "One of the problems with playing a role like Peggy Fair for four seasons is that people identify you with the character and expect you to be that way," she said.

The actress thought it was a significant role, but something about Peggy Fair wasn't her style. "While I think Peggy is a very nice girl, she is not for me. For example, she wears dresses, while I happen to love pants, suits, boots and lots of jewelry."

How she felt personally about the character's style didn't affect the importance of the role, though. She added, "Of course, Peggy is a very efficient secretary to Mike Connors, and it's a great role. At the Salute to Working Women Conference in St. Louis, I was chosen as 'Working Woman of the Year.'"

The award was presented to her by Julie Nixon Eisenhower. "Guess that proves that all that coffee I make for Joe Mannix on the show plus my other girl Friday chores are both real and important to our large audience," the actress said.

Fisher was known for taking disadvantages and turning them into advantages. She credited "faith, hard-working and the will to win" for helping her stay focused and get ahead.

Peggy Fisher was one of the roles that resulted from her staying focused, but when she wasn't in front of the camera and on set for Mannix, she was Gail, and Gail only. 

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51 Comments

jacko3 12 months ago
Gail Fisher - 'Peggy' - was a very good actress and a rather attractive lady .. she gave off 'class'!
JERRY6 jacko3 6 months ago
Better than good , she was Peggy played the roll perfectly . The episodes that were Peggy centric were some of the best . She should get as much credit as Mike for the success of the show , they made a great team
SRN 12 months ago
I always hoped that the series would conclude with the marriage of Mannix and Peggy.
But back in the '70's, interracial relationships were almost never shown on TV.
That's why the kiss between Kirk and Uhura on STAR TREK was so controversial in its time.
Wiseguy70005 SRN 10 months ago
Why do people keep trying to arrange marriage between fictional TV characters?
BorisK 12 months ago
Come on now. It's the only thing she was ever known for and will ever be known for. No need to talk it down, Peggy. Without Mannix you probably would've worked at Sears.
TypeBMA BorisK 7 months ago
It's really okay for someone to want to be known as themselves, outside of the character they play. I'm sure she worked her rear off to get to the trailblazing position she was in, and it doesn't seem she's 'talking it down' so much as distinguishing her actual IRL self from the work she did. No need to trash her for that basic human desire.
Rafa2023 13 months ago
Mannix was a fantastic detectives show. Peggy definitely added alot of flavor to the show. She was so beautiful. The chemistry between Peggy and Mannix was very evident..I enjoyed watching the show because I love the fashion back then. Women were dressed modest and Peggy was always dressed very stylish. My all time favorite show even though I'm a 70s baby. 🌞
Rafa2023 13 months ago
I adore the show Mannix. It was creates before I was born. It would be amazing if they did a modern day remake of the show and Peggy and Mannix could become a couple.
JERRY6 Rafa2023 6 months ago
no way could it be remade Gail and Mike could not be replaced , they had a chemistry that cannot be reproduced . Have to be satisfied with reruns . Only way it could be remade is if you had a time machine
alanwharty 13 months ago
Only wish you would move Mannix even one hour later, now with the "spring ahead" I'm missing.....
Zip 13 months ago
I liked her. She was cool, calm and level-headed. And her voice reminds me of my grandma who always took us fishing and let us do cool things like play on her husband's CB radio. She had that soothing, calm voice.
justjeff 13 months ago
"Peggy Fisher was one of the roles that resulted from her staying focused"... It's 'fair' to point out that the "asleep-at-the-wheel" MeTV writers meant "Peggy Fair"... The actress, as previously noted, was Gail Fisher...
telltell 13 months ago
Good character, but I remember her in a bikini once. OMG! She was gorgeous, but a bikini? No way! She was about 50 lbs too heavy. I was shocked that she or producers thought this feasible.
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justjeff Coldnorth 13 months ago
One of my old jokes is "I've had a lunch that weighed more than she does" (regarding toothpick-thin women)...
texasluva justjeff 10 months ago
Remember Twiggy the super model back in the 60's. She was thin as a toothpick and actually retired in 1970. Twiggy retired in 1970, stating: "You can't be a clothes hanger for your entire life!"
justjeff texasluva 9 months ago
Yep... and with no ill-will to her personally, I'd always thought she was so unattractive and actually came off [to me] as malnourished... but some men like this type... To each their own...
texasluva justjeff 9 days ago
Funny I ran into this clicking on Mannix and re-read things from almost a year ago. When I read the story about Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher) and her real life. I remembered I must have posted the Twiggy story. Down the page there it was, imagine that. Time capsule in arrears. Even Wiseguy70005 AKA Wiseguy. He used to torment me a few years ago. About every 6 months when he appeared. Since then nadda. Kind of feel slighted 🙄😆. This is my bi-annual trip to the past. Plus Mannix was on TV. See ya in 6 mos. back to the future.
Runeshaper 13 months ago
When someone has a strong belief in faith, is hard-working and has the will to win, that's a truly wonderful combination (-:
MsRockford74 13 months ago
I love Mannix and I love Peggy. I always thought they would make a good couple:)
ysatis MsRockford74 13 months ago
I read that they were originally going to be involved in a relationship, but it was decided against it because southern audiences might object.
daDoctah ysatis 13 months ago
It's definitely apparent that Peggy had a thing for her boss. A couple of years ago I binge-watched the entire run of the series and she was forever pining for him and fretting if he disappeared unexpectedly for any length of time.

It's a shame that when they reopened one of Mannix's old unsolved cases for a guest appearance on "Diagnosis: Murder" that she didn't appear as did Mike Connors and several of the original guest case of that episode (Beverly Garland, Julie Adams, Pernell Roberts). She was mentioned briefly at the start of the episode but that was it. And Ward Wood (whose last appearance on Mannix as Lt Malcolm was lying on a floor after being shot in a courtroom) didn't even get *that* much of a callback.
Wiseguy70005 daDoctah 13 months ago
"Search for a Dead Man" was the last episode of Mannix filmed. The aired order of a series like Mannix Is arbitrary.
Pacificsun 13 months ago
I realize there's only so much that fits into a quick story like this; fortunate that Mannix has been mentioned at all. It's an underrated detective/adventure except by its ardent fans who wait up to 2:00am to watch it every night. But what reveals a little more about Gail Fisher is in the alternate link, https://www.metv.com/stories/gail-fisher-of-mannix-was-the-first-black-actor-with-a-speaking-part-in-a-national-commercial

"The New Jersey native and former model went on to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama and two Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress - Television Series. Fisher was the first black woman to win both trophies."

"She was working as a real administrative assistant to talent manager John Levy, who represented icons such as Cannonball Adderley. Levy once asked her to 'clean out' his files, and Fisher tossed them in the trash. No hard feelings — Fisher and Levy would become husband and wife. A former cheerleader and beauty queen — she took home sashes for pageants like Miss Transit, Miss Black New Jersey and Miss Press Photographer — Fisher found work as a model as she studying acting on stage. She could be seen in print advertisements." (paraphrased)

For those who appreciate Mannix for it's production quality, it's clear the writers (and producers approved) making the character nearly a partner with the detective, by mirroring his determination to solve crimes. While the character did by elegantly caring about her boss, Joe. My hunch is, if the Show ran a decade later, they might've developed that relationship more fully. But the drama said more by working under the expected norms of the time, by the series featuring several effects regarding prejudice. My favorite is when Mannix gives her the evil eye when "Peggy" tries to pull the race card on him (truth-telling). She was a strong powerful actor, and a bit ahead of her time. Being a very graceful addition to Mannix' rough edges without any check & balance. She added the warmth and humanity - but especially office efficiency!!
BrittReid Pacificsun 13 months ago
Mannix was a great show. Well produced and written. "Peggy" was underused and a plus for series.
Coldnorth Pacificsun 13 months ago
Peggy was a perfect pair for the show. She was beautiful. Did she have any other acting roles? I know I can look it up myself but I know some in here automatically know the answer
Pacificsun Coldnorth 13 months ago
Love American Style (twice), Medical Center, Room 222, General Hospital, Knight Rider, Fantasy Island .... just to name a few. Full credit is down below. Am glad her career kept going among those very popular Series!


No, worries, it's all in the easy link below.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gail_Fisher
Mike Pacificsun 13 months ago
Gail Fisher was in the very first Love American Style in 1969.
She came to a pool hall with hustler Flip Wilson, who was there to meet a challenger at the table -
- and the challenger turned out to be Gail (who looked like she was doing her own shots).
Also starring Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson and Mantan Moreland.
Hall of Fame Night, all the way!
Pacificsun Mike 13 months ago
😉
Rock'n.
Coldnorth Pacificsun 13 months ago
Thank you for the link
Coldnorth Pacificsun 12 months ago
Thank you for the link
tootsieg 13 months ago
Gail Fisher added a lot to the show. I like the episodes when she helped Mannix catch the bad guys.
Andybandit 13 months ago
I wish Mannix was on earlier then 1:00am MT in the morning. I would like to see it.
telltell Andybandit 13 months ago
Uh, ever heard of TIvo or even old VCR?
Pacificsun telltell 13 months ago
😉
Couldn't exist without my DVR, but MeTV is so popular because for many it's OTA.

We also don't want it to go to an hour in too much demand, sponsor-wise (like Addams Family and A-Team) where it will be whisked away ahead of it's time. Let's leave it rest in that obscure time slot 😉
Wiseguy70005 telltell 10 months ago
Or the DVD set from Paramount/CBS? There you can watch it at your convenience, without commercials or editing and in the correct aspect ratio without the tops and bottoms of the image cut off.
Wiseguy70005 Pacificsun 10 months ago
There are DVRs for OTA. Have one myself and I have neither cable or satellite.
MrsPhilHarris 13 months ago
I have seen Mannix forever. I wish to aired at a better time for me.
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Wiseguy70005 MrsPhilHarris 13 months ago
So you'd rather watch episodes not at your convenience, with commercials, possibly edited and zoomed in to fit the TV screen losing parts of the picture on top and bottom, and with a not-too-clear picture because you don't want to make an effort to buy the superior-in-every-way DVDs? Then you shouldn't make the effort to complain about the time slot either.
MrsPhilHarris Wiseguy70005 13 months ago
That is correct!
Wiseguy70005 Coldnorth 10 months ago
What's the big effort in DVDs? The better picture and convenience is well worth it.
JERRY6 13 months ago
no one could have played the role better , there was chemistry on the set . She was great in the role . Sad how her life ended . RIP
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