Leturgey Musings and Goings On

These are some of my writings...from events going on in the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance and elsewhere, to observations from the rest of my decidely unformulaic life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Nancy Mimless: One Of Pittsburgh’s Busiest Actresses

[The following is a copy of my story, which ran in The Front Weekly in Pittsburgh, the week of 1/31/05]

by Tom Leturgey

Nancy Mimless may be the prototypical Pittsburgh actress; when she was asked to be the focus of a feature story, she wondered if she had done enough to warrant such attention. While she may initially come off as a girl-next-door type, like Sandra Bullock, this Steel City born and bred performer has established quite a one-of-a-kind resume.

The youngest of Kenneth the late Rona Mimless’ children, Nancy knew at an early age that she wanted to perform. It started with singing The Archie’s “Sugar, Sugar” in the living room and later performances at Peabody High School and the then-upstart CAPA in Homewood.

After graduating from high school and earning her B.A. in Theater from Pitt in the mid 1980’s, Nancy tried her hand in Los Angeles. She was immediately hired by Chuck Barris’ former Gong Show production company, which was still filming offbeat game shows.

By then the Gong Show (at that time hosted by some guy named Jeff McGregor) and its companion shows—the Newlywed Game and Dating Game—were shadows of their once famous incarnations, but it did provide a unique opportunity and a paycheck. Nancy met celebrities of the day like Raider’s lineman John Matuzak, members of the LA Dodgers and wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper.

If the Game Show Network were to ever pick up Gong Show episodes from the Reagan era, you’d see Mimless’ appearances as “Rappin’ Katherine Hepburn,” or “Flashdance Nancy” from the Pittsburgh-themed show. “We did a lot of (those) shows,” she says. “I spoke Pittsburghese and danced.”

Tuned into “the industry,” she was able to parlay her position as a Contestant Coordinator into more than three dozen appearances as an extra.Nancy’s infectious enthusiasm and verve caught the eye of showbiz superstars Steve Martin and Robin Williams. Martin tried, unsuccessfully, to get her a few lines in LA Story and Williams remarked, “you’re funny,” when Nancy herded a group of extras together “like cattle” and spontaneously created a dance during an Earth Day special.

She says if you blink, you’ll miss her appearances on TV’s Night Court and Married…with Children, as well as the Val Kilmer big screen dud, The Doors.

The game shows were soon canceled, but because of her tenacity Nancy continued to find work here and there, including a spot on the first season of the tabloid show Hard Copy.

A lack of money quickly became a problem so she moved back to Pittsburgh. Back in town she found a tight-knit group of agents and producers, but armed with beauty, charisma and optimism, she was able to find a small crease with local talent scouts. Nancy has worked consistently (including a stint as a line dancer with the Parrot on top of her beloved Pittsburgh Pirates’ dugout during the country dance craze in the early 90’s), but not enough to quit her day job downtown.

Over the past decade, Mimless, who easily allures with a smile and quicker wit, has been in nearly 20 theater productions throughout Western Pennsylvania, including a standout lead performance in Agnes of God last year. She’s also performed in other meaningful shows with a touring group for children and Crisis Center North. While Mimless almost always earns favorable reviews for her wide array of work locally, she still occasionally fields calls from friends who see a repeat of The Weakest Link in which she was the first contestant booted by the persnickety Anne Robinson.

“Pittsburgh’s a nice place,” she says. “Unfortunately, I can’t make a living doing what I love.” Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the East End resident from participating in audition almost continually for a variety of parts. In the past year, she been has seen in Armstrong Cable and Shop n’ Save (as a seen-it-all bathrobed wife who frowns as her husband juggles flaming skillets) commercials, not to mention her most famous role—a counter-dancing diner waitress who wins the Ohio Lottery. “It must still be running,” she says. “I still get checks.”

Mimless was also heard last summer in radio ads for Kennywood Park and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. “I’ve done a lot of funky things.”A loyal member of the Screen Actors Guild, Equity and the American Federation of Radio and TV actors (she’s Secretary for the Pittsburgh AFTRA chapter’s Executive Board) Nancy will keep charging ahead, despite the fact that fewer major motion pictures and TV shows are spending time in Pittsburgh. “My goal is to make a living as an actor,” she says. “My dream is to make a mark and have an impact on the industry.”

It seems there isn’t anything typical about this modest girl next door.


At November 6, 2009 at 4:53 AM, Blogger Lucas said...

Nancy is my acting teacher at CLO Academy of Musical Theatre. She is Great, & I enjoyed reading this.


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