Nancy McKeon

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Nancy McKeon
The Reagans with Michael J. Fox and Nancy McKeon.jpg
McKeon (L) with President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, and Michael J. Fox in 1985
Nancy Justine McKeon

(1966-04-04) April 4, 1966 (age 54)
Years active1977–present
Marc Andrus
(m. 2003)
RelativesPhilip McKeon (brother, deceased 2019)

Nancy Justine McKeon (born April 4, 1966) is an American actress. She is known for her roles as Jo Polniaczek on the NBC sitcom The Facts of Life and Jinny Exstead on The Division.

Early life and career[edit]

Nancy Justine McKeon was born on April 4, 1966, in Westbury, New York to Donald McKeon, a travel agent,[1] and Barbara McKeon. She began her entertainment career by modeling baby clothing for the Sears & Roebuck catalog when she was two. Along with her brother, Philip McKeon, she performed in many commercials. In 1976, her brother was chosen to play a major role on the television show, Alice. It was then that the family moved from New York to Los Angeles.[2]

Early on, McKeon appeared on the soap operas The Secret Storm and Another World. In 1979, she was discovered by a casting director for The Facts of Life on the basis of her performance in a Hallmark advertisement, in which she was able to cry on cue.[3]

She was cast as tomboy Jo Polniaczek in the fall of 1980 during the show's second season when four of the first season's cast, including Molly Ringwald, were dismissed from the show.[4] This is often considered to be her most well-known role and she portrayed the character until the show was canceled in 1988. McKeon also provided the voice for many ABC Weekend Special cartoon characters, including the voice for Scruffy.

While she was working on The Facts of Life, McKeon attended school on-set with tutors, having attended Catholic school prior to that. In an interview with Tom Snyder in 1998, she joked that she "was given detention a few times" for not adhering to the strict rules of school, which included not wearing her favorite patent leather shoes.[5]

Following The Facts of Life, McKeon was courted by NBC executives for the title role in the TV sitcom adaptation of the 1988 film Working Girl; the role, played by Melanie Griffith in the movie, instead went to then unknown Sandra Bullock. In 1994, McKeon and Courteney Cox auditioned for the role of Monica Geller on Friends. The role went to Cox. When asked in interviews about the audition, McKeon said, "I have no hard feelings. The role went to the right person. Courteney was brilliant. Now, I can't see anybody playing the role, not even myself."[6] In 1995, she starred in her own series, Can't Hurry Love, which lasted one season. In 1998, she starred with Jean Smart in the sitcom Style & Substance. McKeon portrayed Inspector Jinny Exstead on the Lifetime police drama The Division from 2001 to 2004, with her pregnancy incorporated into the storyline of the last year of the series. From 2009 to 2010 she appeared in a recurring role in the Disney Channel Original Series Sonny with a Chance, as Connie Munroe, the mother of Demi Lovato's title character.[7]

McKeon also starred in numerous made-for-TV movies in the 1980s and 1990s, including A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story, in which she portrayed the title role of Tracey Thurman, and The Wrong Woman, portraying a woman framed for killing her boss. In Strange Voices, she portrayed a woman with schizophrenia. She produced many of these movies through her own film company, Forest Hills Entertainment (named after her childhood neighborhood, Forest Hills, on Long Island).[3]

McKeon is known for carefully researching her roles and characters. For her role in The Division, she spent time with a police force, while for her role in Strange Voices, she spoke with patients about the condition to prepare for her role. In an interview with John Tesh, she said, "What's really interesting is that I find that people are very forthcoming to actors. I mean, almost more forthcoming than they are to priests or shrinks, because they somehow feel that their story is going to be out there in someway...But, once you get into talking with them and finding out about their world, it's fascinating and it's heartbreaking at the same time."[8]

In 1999, she wrote and directed her own short film, called A Wakening. She told the TV show Biography that directing had always been a personal ambition, so she wrote the movie in order to direct. The film won two film festival awards.[9] She also directed two episodes of The Division.[2]

In 2003, McKeon starred in the film Comfort and Joy.[10] In 2018, McKeon was announced as one of the celebrities to compete on season 27 of Dancing with the Stars. She was partnered with professional dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy,[11] and was the third celebrity eliminated.

She has a brief cameo in 2019's You Light Up My Christmas, a movie starring her Facts of Life co-star Kim Fields. The movie also includes her other cast members from the show. McKeon was supposed to have a larger role in the movie, but was unable to film more due to a family emergency.[12] Also in 2019, McKeon announced on social media her involvement in a new, planned Amazon series based on the popular Lauren Oliver young adult novel, Panic.[13]

Personal life[edit]

While McKeon was on The Facts of Life, she and her parents were granted a private audience with Pope John Paul II.[14] She described the experience to interviewer Tom Snyder in 1998 as "electric," explaining, "In every rendering of every artist, you see this aura that's painted around figures...He has that in life."[5]

McKeon dated actor Michael J. Fox for three years after they met on the set of High School U.S.A. (1983). "He and I were very private people," McKeon told Biography. "We didn't tell a lot of people and we kind of kept to ourselves."[9] McKeon and Fox appeared together as a celebrity couple on the game show Tattletales.[15]

In 2003, McKeon married film technician Marc Andrus, after meeting eight years prior on the set of the Hallmark movie, A Mother’s Gift.[16] A private person seeking to keep the event small, the two only had 20 guests at the wedding.[9] They moved to a ranch near Austin, Texas to raise their two daughters, Aurora and Harlowe, born in 2004 and 2006, out of the spotlight.[3]

On December 10, 2019, her older brother, Philip McKeon, died at age 55.[17]


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Starsky & Hutch Vikki Mayer "The Crying Child"
1978 Return to Fantasy Island Ann TV film
1978 Alice Girl Orphan "Who Ordered the Hot Turkey?"
1978 A Question of Love Susan Moreland TV film
1979 The Love Boat Penny Barrett "Daddy's Pride"
1979 The Puppy's Great Adventure Dolly (voice) TV film
1980 Stone Jill Stone TV series (9 episodes)
1980 The Puppy's Amazing Rescue Dolly (voice) TV film
1980 The Trouble with Miss Switch Amelia Daley (voice) TV film
1980 Scruffy Scruffy (voice) TV film
1980 ABC Afterschool Special Lucy Twining "Schoolboy Father"
1980–81 Thundarr the Barbarian Tye / Tai (voice) "Harvest of Doom", "Last Train to Doomsday"
1980–88 The Facts of Life Jo Polniaczek TV series (189 episodes)
1981 ABC Afterschool Special Nancy Parks "Please Don't Hit Me, Mom"
1981 Alice Kimberly "Alice's Halloween Surprise"
1981 The Puppy Saves the Circus Dolly (voice) TV film
1982 Miss Switch to the Rescue Amelia Daley (voice) TV film
1982–83 The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour Dolly (voice) TV series (13 episodes)
1982 The Facts of Life Goes to Paris Jo Polniaczek TV film
1983 Dusty Slugger TV film
1983–84 The Puppy's Further Adventures Dolly (voice) TV series (8 episodes)
1983 High School U.S.A. Beth Franklin TV film
1985 Poison Ivy Rhonda Malone TV film
1985 This Child Is Mine Kimberly Downs TV film
1986 Firefighter Cindy Fralick TV film
1987 The Facts of Life Down Under Jo Polniaczek TV film
1987 Strange Voices Nicole 'Nikki' Glover TV film
1989 A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story Tracey Thurman TV film
1990 The Hitchhiker Dawn Wilder "New Dawn"
1991 Lightning Field Martha Townsend TV film
1991 Where the Day Takes You Vikki Feature film
1992 Baby Snatcher Karen Williams TV film
1993 Love, Honor & Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage Rosalie Profaci Bonanno TV film
1994 Teresa's Tattoo Sara Feature film
1995 A Mother's Gift Margaret Deal TV film
1995–96 Can't Hurry Love Annie O'Donnell TV series (19 episodes)
1995 The Wrong Woman Melanie Brooke Feature film
1997 Just Write Bride Feature film
1998 Style & Substance Jane Sokol TV series (13 episodes)
1999 A Wakening Short film; Director, writer
1999 In My Sister's Shadow Joan Connor TV film
1999 Touched by an Angel Rachel Waters "The Last Day of the Rest of Your Life"
2001–04 The Division Inspector Jinny Exstead TV series (88 episodes). Director: episodes "Full Moon" (S2), "The Cost of Freedom" (S3)
2003 Comfort and Joy Jane Berry TV film
2004 Category 6: Day of Destruction Amy Harkin TV miniseries
2006 Wild Hearts Emily TV film
2007 Without a Trace Gail Sweeney "Absalom"
2009–10 Sonny with a Chance Connie Munroe TV series (5 episodes)
2011 Love Begins Millie TV film
2018 Dancing with the Stars Contestant (Season 27) TV series (5 episodes)
2019 You Light Up My Christmas Kathy TV film

Awards and nominations[edit]

Marco Island Film Festival

  • 2000: Won, "Audience Award for Best Short Drama"—A Wakening
  • 2000: Won, "Crystal Palm Award for Best Short Film"—A Wakening

Prism Awards

  • 2003: Nominated, "Best Performance in a Drama Series Episode"—The Division
  • 2003: Nominated, "Best Performance in a Drama Series"—The Division
  • 2004: Nominated, "Best Performance in a Drama Series Multi Episode Storyline"—The Division

TV Land Awards

  • 2007: Nominated, "The 'When Bad Teens Go Good' Award"—The Facts of Life

Young Artist Awards

  • 1982: Nominated, "Best Young Comedienne in Motion Picture or Television"—The Facts of Life
  • 1983: Won, "Best Young Actress in a Television Special"—Please Don't Hit Me, Mom
  • 1983: Won, "Best Young Actress in a Movie Made for Television"—The Facts of Life Goes to Paris
  • 1983: Won, "Best Young Actress in a Comedy Series"—The Facts of Life
  • 1984: Nominated, "Best Young Actress in a Comedy Series"—The Facts of Life


  1. ^ "Tom Snyder 1998 Interview with Nancy McKeon". Youtube. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Internet Movie Database: Nancy McKeon". IMDb. IMDb. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "The Facts of Life". Biography. Season 18. Episode 28. July 25, 2005. The Biography Channel.
  4. ^ "Molly Ringwald: Pretty in Print". The Advocate. April 26, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Tom Snyder Interview: Nancy McKeon". Youtube. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Nancy McKeon Then & Now! | Albany Daily News". Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  7. ^ "Dancing with the Stars: Meet the Cast of Season 27". Entertainment Tonight. Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Nancy Mckeon One-on-One with John Tesh (1991)". Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  9. ^ a b c "Biography: Nancy McKeon". Youtube. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  10. ^ "IMDb: Comfort and Joy". IMDb. IMDb. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  11. ^ McCarthy, Kelly (September 5, 2018). "Val Chmerkovskiy will dance with Nancy McKeon on season 27 of Dancing With the Stars". Good Morning America. ABC News. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  12. ^ Miller, Victoria. "'Facts Of Life' Fans Thrilled As Kim Fields, Lisa Whelchel, Mindy Cohn & Nancy McKeon Reunite For Holiday Film". Inquisitr. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  13. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "'Panic': Enrique Murciano, Camron Jones & Jessica Sula Join Amazon Series In Recastings; Quartet Set To Recur". Deadline. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Intimate Portrait: Nancy McKeon". The Facts of Life. 2001. Lifetime.
  15. ^ Tattletales, Taped July 24th, 1983
  16. ^ Rao, Naveen (September 25, 2018). "Marc Andrus: Facts to Know about "Dancing with the Stars" Contestant Nancy McKeon's Husband". EarnTheNecklace. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  17. ^ Stone, Natalee (December 10, 2019). "Philip McKeon, a Child Star on the Sitcom Alice, Dies at Age 55". Retrieved December 13, 2019.

External links[edit]