Comedian and actress Fran Drescher won the hearts of many as “Fran Fine,” the stylist and often outspoken fashion icon on CBS’s 1990s sitcom “The Nanny.”
She’s remained relatively out of the Hollywood spotlight, pivoting more toward activism and women’s cancer advocacy nonprofit, the Cancer Schmancer Movement, after being diagnosed with uterine cancer herself.
But now, she’s returning to the spotlight to look back at another tragedy that happened almost 30 years ago.
In an interview with Australian talk show Studio 10, the sitcom star revealed the harrowing details of a home invasion gone awry.
It was a peaceful night in 1985, when Drescher and her then-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, were enjoying a meal with friends in their home. Then, suddenly, trespassers entered the couple’s home and violently raped Drescher at gunpoint. Jacobson, who joined Drescher for the interview, recounted the entire situation as “surreal:”
“The whole rape experience was so surreal, because people who talk about having guns in the house and things like that — it would not have helped. It could have been used against us. There’s no time, unless you’re going to walk around with a gun pointed 24 hours a day,”
Drescher, who was diagnosed with cancer 15 years after her violent attack, believes that the two traumatic experiences are “poetically linked:”
“I really didn’t deal with my pain for many, many, many years — with the rape. So, when you don’t do that … I mean, I ended up with a cancer.”
She felt that repressing the trauma for so many years caused another threatening illness within her:
“So, it kind of end up being very poetic in where the body decides to break down and create disease.”
Her cancer hasn’t kept her down completely. In the ensuing years, she found a way to mine purpose from great tragedy:
“You’ll never be the same, but whatever that is, then forge forward with that and turn your pain into purpose, which is what I always do.”
She first wrote about her assault in her 1996 autobiography “Enter Whining,” and hoped that sharing her story would help inspire other victims and survivors of violent crime:
“I thought if people could see where I went from that low point to where I am now, maybe it’ll help and inspire other women, and men for that matter, who have been sexually assaulted to move on — to feel your pain, and then try and pick up the pieces and put yourself back together.”
Drescher is still on the road in attempts to inspire and lend support to women with cancer. You can find her, and a slew of other guests, on her New York-based charity cabaret cruise on June 19.