Beginning as a child model, Malone spent her entire life in the entertainment industry, acting, producing – and laughing
Credit: Courtesy Harlan Boll

Veteran actress and Emmy-winning director and producer Nancy Malone, a co-founder of the group Women in Film and a groundbreaking female executive at 20th Century Fox in the 1970s, died Thursday in Los Angeles from complications attributed to leukemia, said her representative, Harlan Boll. She was 79.

A producer of the 1970s series The Bionic Woman and director of numerous TV shows, including Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, Dynasty, Cagney & Lacey, Star Trek: Voyager and Dawson’s Creek, the Long Island native began her career at 7 as a child model and appeared in ads for Kellogg s, Ford and Macy s. At 10 she was selected for the cover of Life magazine’s 10th anniversary issue, depicting “The Typical American Girl.”

She went on to appear in one of TV s earliest soaps, CBS’s The First Hundred Years, and at 15 made her Broadway debut as the title character in Time Out for Ginger, starring Melvyn Douglas.

As an adult her acting credits included 51 episodes of the 1958-63 ABC dramatic series Naked City, as well as such familiar TV series as Bonanza, The Fugitive, The Partridge Family, Big Valley, The Rockford Files, Outer Limits, Dr. Kildare, The Andy Griffith Show, Hawaii Five-0, The Twilight Zone and Lou Grant, as well as the 1973 movie with Burt Reynolds, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

She won an Emmy in 1993 for producing, with Linda Hope and Don Mischer, the special Bob Hope: The First 90 Years. Malone is survived by Linda Hope, her colleague and longtime friend.

“Nancy Malone was a delight to work with on The Bionic Woman,” its star, Lindsay Wagner, said Friday. “She was funny and energetic, and I had great admiration for her being one of the early women to be successful in the television industry.”

Remarking on Malone’s distinctive spirit and infectious laugh, actress Tyne Daly said, “She was one of the funniest known human beings. With her unfailing good taste and a heart of Irish gold, I loved working and playing with her.”

Added Daly, “If there is a heaven, Nancy has arrived by limousine, and the first word out of her mouth was her personal favorite code word for the ‘innkeeper’ ‘NURSE!’ “