Nancy Dussault was born in Pensacola, Florida on June 30, 1936 to Navy Captain George Adrian Dussault and Sarah Isabel (Seitz) Dussault. She lived in Pensacola, Florida, Coronado, California, Annapolis, Maryland and Norfolk, Virginia before moving to Arlington, Virginia when she was 15. Dussault danced as a child, but it was not until she moved to Arlington that she began performing more expansively. She attended Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, where she was a member of Beta Tri-Y and the Beta Club, sang in several choirs, and starred in theatrical productions. As a senior she was voted Best Actress, following her starring role in Brigadoon. Dussault graduated from Washington-Lee High School in 1953 and went on to study music at Northwestern University. While at Northwestern she was president of her sorority Tri-Delta and participated in the Women’s Glee Club, Fashion Fay, and Opera Workshop. She appeared in Northwestern productions of the Waa-Mu Show, Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, and Carmen. She also performed as a guest soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra twice and worked at the Highland Park Music Theater during the summer while at Northwestern. On Senior Day she was selected as Dean of the Music School, an honor that recognized both her talent and leadership. Dussault received two Young Artists Awards from the American Society of Musicians while still at Northwestern. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Music in 1957.
Following graduation she began performing in Highland Park, Illinois and appeared on stage in Cohasset, Massachusetts. Her first appearance on stage in New York City was in 1958 in several Off-Broadway shows. In 1959 and 1960, she performed with the New York City Opera Company and in a nightclub revue at Downstairs at the Upstairs. Her performance in the show Four Below resulted in her being listed by NBC as one of the up-and-coming performers of 1960. Dussault made her Broadway debut alongside Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker in the hit Do-Re-Mi. The show opened in December of 1960 and received accolades throughout its run. She received a Tony nomination for Best Supporting or Featured Actress in a Musical in 1961 for her role as Tilda in Do-Re-Mi. After 18 months performing in Do-Re-Mi, Dussault took over the role of Maria in The Sound of Music. In the summer of 1963, she appeared in the Dallas pre-Broadway premier of Apollo and Miss Agnes alongside David Wayne before returning to star as Maria in an Off-Broadway production of The Sound of Music. In 1964 and 1965, Dussault appeared in the Broadway hit Bajour. She received her second Tony nomination for her role in the show, this time for Best Female Musical Lead.
Dussault appeared in numerous stage productions following Bajour, including Carousel, Peter Pan, Finian's Rainbow, Fiorello!, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, South Pacific, and Irene. She made her first television appearance on The New Dick Van Dyke Show in 1971. Dussault was one of the first hosts of Good Morning America, appearing alongside David Hartman at its premier on November 3, 1975. She was on the program until 1977, when she transitioned back into acting, starring in the critically acclaimed Side by Side by Sondheim. She was offered the role of Ted Knight’s wife in the TV comedy Too Close for Comfort in 1980. The show ran until 1983 and won a People’s Choice Award for Best New Television Comedy in 1981. She continued to appear alongside Knight in The Ted Knight Show until his unexpected death in 1986. Dussault returned to Broadway in 1987, where she appeared as the witch in Steven Sondheim’s Into the Woods. She has toured the country and appeared in diverse stage productions, including Shirley Valentine in 1990 and Sisters Rosensweig in 1994.
Throughout her career Dussault has appeared repeatedly on talk shows, including The Ed Sullivan Show, Bell Telephone, Gary Moore, The Tonight Show, The Mike Douglas Show, and The Merv Griffin Show. She won an Emmy for Cabaret Tonight, a PBS special, and has appeared in many television specials. She is also known for appearing in numerous museum performances. Dussault began teaching musical theater at UCLA when she moved to Los Angeles to continue her theater career. In 1999 she released her first CD, Heart and Soul, a collection of cabaret songs.
Dussault is a member of the Actors' Equity Association, the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists, the Screen Actors Guild, the American Guild of Museum Artists, and the American Guild of Variety Artists. She married James D. Travis on October 4, 1958. They met while she was a student at Northwestern and he was stationed in Chicago with the Navy. He went on to become an advertising executive for a firm in New York City. They divorced in 1982. Dussault married director Valentine Mayer on February 24, 1985 and resides with him in Los Angeles.
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Nancy Dussault (1936- ), a graduate of Northwestern University's School of Music (1957), is a singer and actress. Her long career includes starring roles in many Broadway musicals and on television. Her collection spans the years 1936-2014 and contains mostly scripts, programs, and news clippings from performances, along with some personal and biographical materials and correspondence.