Fran Drescher is best known as Fran Fine from the TV sitcom The Nanny. Outside of the series, though, Fran is has led a life full of extreme ups and downs.
Starting from a small role alongside John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, to the more recent NBC sitcom Indebted, Drescher has delivered many excellent performances over her 43-year-long career. Of course, she shone the brightest in The Nanny, a show she co-created with then-husband Peter Jacobson.
The couple, who wed back in 1977, have a long history together. They were high school sweethearts who attended university together and later tied the knot at the age of 21. They remained together for more than 20 years before they divorced in 1999.
A quick look at their history reveals Drescher and Jacobson’s lives were as intertwined as could be – they studied together, started their careers together, and their divorce marked the end of the biggest success of their lives: The Nanny. Today, they still spend a lot of time together and remain best friends, which might make you wonder why the compatible couple didn’t work out.
Luckily, Fran Drescher herself has been vocal in explaining their relationship and their individual hardships. Let’s take a look at what brought these two together and later drove them apart.
Drescher and Jacobson’s history goes back to when the two were only 15. They met in high school, where they started a relationship that blossomed into a marriage just six years later.
Drescher and Jacobson’s chemistry was undeniable, and given their history, it’s no wonder that they played the perfect couple on-screen. But after almost 20 years of marriage, they separated in 1996 and divorced only a few years later. The reason? It turns out, Jacobson struggled to recognize his own homosexuality.
During an interview with Oprah, Jacobson revealed that he had no idea he was gay when they got married. He never cheated on Drescher or even experimented with his sexuality. But this didn’t stop him from dealing with inner turmoil, and Jacobson chose to begin therapy to get help. Three different therapists told him he was straight and it was natural to have thoughts about being gay. He was convinced that as long as he wasn’t acting on these thoughts, there was nothing to be concerned about. But as it turns out, there was something deeper going on.
Jacobson began his therapy sessions in 1985, after falling victim to a violent break in. Drescher, Jacobson and one of their friends were having dinner in their home when two armed robbers forced their way into the house. The robbers assaulted and abused the couple and their friend before stealing valuables and making their escape. Surprisingly, the couple kept this story under wraps for over a decade before it became public knowledge.
Between the trauma of the break-in and the struggle with his sexuality, Jacobson was not in a healthy state of mind. He revealed on Oprah that he repressed and ignored his feelings, which left him in a constant state of anger. Drescher quickly noticed this change in her husband. She noticed that he had become controlling and insecure, and was even upset when Drescher spent time with their dog instead of him.
Interestingly, both Drescher and Jacobson admit that Jacobson’s struggles never affected their sex life. Jacobson told Oprah they had great sex, and Drescher agreed by saying he was a very sexual man. When Jacobson couldn’t ignore his sexuality any longer, he confided in Drescher, telling her that he was bisexual. However, for him, their marriage was more important than acknowledging and acting on his sexuality.
Drescher said that when Jacobson told this to her, he still wanted to spend their lives together and promised he wouldn’t cheat on her. She didn’t know how to address the change in him. Instead of addressing how his changing sexuality was affecting her, she took his honesty as a testament to how much he loved her.
The two gave their relationship more time, committed to making the marriage work. Eventually, though, Drescher decided to end things, which Jacobson didn’t take too well. She revealed that he begged her to stay but she felt trapped and suffocated. At a certain point, he had no option but to accept Drescher’s choice, and Jacobson moved to New York to be on his own.
Jacobson’s departure happened to be on the same day that The Nanny ended, and the two wouldn’t speak for a year. During this time, Drescher was suffering from an undiagnosed disease, and two years of tests were inconclusive in determining the condition. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Shortly after, her manager called Jacobson to tell him the tragic news. As revealed on Oprah, this discovery cut Jacobson to the core. He said any anger that he harbored had vanished, and he felt nothing but love as he feared for Drescher and her life-threatening diagnosis.
Fortunately, just a few years later, Drescher beat cancer. She then wrote Cancer Schmancer, retelling her battle with the disease. During a publicity book tour, she made a stop in New York, where she decided to meet up with Jacobson.
During this visit, Jacobson revealed to her that he was not bisexual, but actually just homosexual. He wanted Drescher to be the first to know so that she was not blindsided when the news hit the media. In a later interview, Drescher expressed relief and comfort that Jacobson was finally able to explore his sexuality. After repressing it for so many years, she figured it was time for him to be true to himself.
After their ups and downs, the two have finally stabilized into a close and healthy friendship. They realize that they each play an integral role in each other’s lives, despite the rocky ending to their relationship. After all, they owe a lot of their career success to one another!
In her early years, Drescher was frustrated with how her career was going. She was unhappy with the roles offered to her and felt undervalued. The Nanny was a big hit, not just during its original run but also during reruns. The show’s 6 seasons, which spanned 146 episodes, were well-received among audiences and critics, and earned Drescher nominations for two Emmys and two Golden Globes. Before this success, though, the roles offered to her were subpar. In an interview with Fox News, she said she was mostly offered roles to portray a kind-hearted hooker. She further added that she felt disrespected and refused to play into it, deciding she would explore other ways of becoming wealthy and successful.
Jacobson played a big role in helping Drescher realize her potential. He bolstered her confidence and assured her she was meant for the bigger roles, and supported her in declining projects that didn’t acknowledge her talent.
Today, Drescher says she is happily single and in an extremely satisfying relationship with herself. In an interview with Fox News in January 2020, she even mentioned she shared a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement with someone. More recently, in a Closer Weekly interview, she added that the pandemic put dating on the back burner and she is enjoying the free time to de-stress and unwind. The actor revealed she is a private person with a small circle of friends, which makes her apprehensive about opening up with strangers.
In the same interview, Drescher said she is happy to be focusing on herself for a change. She practices Buddhist philosophy and feels peaceful being by herself. Looking back, Drescher says the divorce was a turning point in her life when she decided to start living for herself and exploring who she really was. Her battle with cancer made her more self-aware, and she now leads the Cancer Schmancer Movement, which aims to raise awareness about how to identify early signs of cancer.
Drescher believes that having influence as a celebrity figure comes with a responsibility of using it to make a difference in the world.
Overall, it seems Drescher and Jacobson shared a truly unique relationship, where they endured it all and came out victorious. And even though their marriage is a thing of the past, their love for one another remains unchanged.
If you haven’t seen Drescher on screen yet, we suggest you stream an episode of The Nanny to know what the hype was all about. Drescher recently revealed that there are plans to produce a Broadway musical version of the show and even a TV reboot version – so it may be a great time to catch up on the original and refresh your memory. But before you go, please hit the like button if you enjoyed watching, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more videos like this. Also, hit the bell icon to stay updated with our latest content.