When it comes to pioneer black actors, Gail Fisher is often overlooked. In the early 1960's she became the first black person to appear on a national television commercial (All laundry detergent) with a speaking part. That would not be the only "first" for this talented woman.
Her work on the television series, Mannix, earned her an Emmy, as well as two Golden Globes, making her the first black woman to win each of those awards. With her status as one of televisions only recognizable actress of color, her presence as a guest star helped to boost the ratings of other popular shows during her run on Mannix, like Room 222, My Three Sons, and Love, American Style, just to name a few.
And while Gail Fisher may have been one of the first black stars of the small screen, after Mannix ended its run, she rejoined the ranks of so many other talented black actors living in obscurity. She resurfaced briefly on the soap opera, General Hospital in the recurring role of Judge Heller. But sadly, with the exception of several forgettable made-for-television movies, the career of this wonderful actor was over.
Despite having worked with famed director, Elia Kazan, as well as winning the NAACP Image Award in 1969, this Lee Strasburg trained actor never had the chance to fully overcome the racial limitations of the time. She is no longer with us, but with an Emmy and two Golden Globes, Gail Fisher will forever be in the history books.