Charles Shaughnessy did a magazine interview before leaving for the Dancer against Cancer ball in Austria that will take place on Saturday, 14 April, 2012, where he is guest of honour with his favourite leading lady, his wife, Susan. This is what Charlie had to say about the gala ball, cancer, Fran Drescher, The Nanny & how he looks at life.
The invitation to Dancer Against Cancer came “out of the blue.” Fran was unable to come this year as she was working, so she suggested me. I knew nothing about the organization at first, but the idea of combining a short trip to such a beautiful city with such a wonderful cause seemed irresistible. It is one of the most rewarding sides of the “celebrity” that comes with a TV show that you can use it to help make a difference in some small way. If my presence at Dancer against Cancer this year can help raise some funds and awareness for the fight against cancer, then it makes those years of playing Mr. Sheffield even more valuable.
Cancer is a dreadful disease that has no compassion for age, gender, fame, economic situation or where you are in life. Even though there are many other serious diseases that can strike a person at any time, cancer has a unique hold over our imagination and psyche. The three words: ” You have cancer,” are the most dreaded one can hear in any language. But organizations like Dancer Against Cancer and Cancer Schmancer as well as the countless others in this fight are working hard, every day, to make those three words less and less frightening. As treatments improve and survival rates increase, the once fatal sentence of cancer loses it’s hold over us. I have many friends and family members who have heard those three words and I am here for them.
When I was growing up, no one referred to cancer by name: it was always ” The “C” word” or ” The big “C.” It is important that we name the enemy and that we refuse to let it have such a powerful grip on us. There should be no “stigma” attached to the disease. It can strike anyone at any time: no one is immune. It is important that we spread awareness NOT just that the disease exists, but that we can each do our part to drive it into the open and defeat it.
I am a huge supporter of Cancer Schmancer. I think early detection is often 90% of the fight. It is one thing to say” We are fighting to find a cure for this disease,” which suggests that there isn’t one and that it’s going to be a bad outcome. It’s another thing to say” As long as you detect it early, there are treatments available that can greatly increase your chances of survival.” Which is both true and hopeful. It takes a lot of the fear and panic away from those three words none of us want to hear.
I have always had a pretty “fatalistic” view of life. On the very same day, someone can discover that they have beaten the odds of 3 million to 1 and won the lottery, while someone else can discover that they have lost the odds by the same 3 million to 1 and contracted an incredibly rare form of cancer! You can take every precaution in life and still get hit by a falling tree. Life and one’s health are fragile things and we can never take them for granted or treat them casually. Fran has been an inspiration, not in the fact that she survived cancer, but in how she has chosen to make it a central part in how she continues to live her life as a teacher and crusader for the right of everyone to have access to early detection.
The show had already finished when Fran got her diagnosis, so I was not around at that time. Once we all heard about it and she went public, everyone came together to support her and encourage her. The struggle itself is an intensely private one, but it must be a tremendous help to know that there are so many people pulling for you and loving you.
Frannie and I have always had a very strong friendship. We live very different lives that mean we don’t see each other that much, but it is always a great time when we do. I have two kids that take up a lot of time and energy and she is always deep into about three or four projects at the same time. I never know even what country she is in half the time!! I have enjoyed being with her in all her shows since “The Nanny” ( including her Talk Show!) She is a loyal and kind friend and I value the time we spend together.
I continue to work on stage, in movies and on TV in various roles. I have recently taped an episode of “Castle” as well as a recurring role on a Nickolodeon show for Kids called ” Victorious.” I played Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady” last summer, and am always tinkering with some project or other. I am also very involved in an Internet business with my brother, David through our company: 3S Media Solutions
My time as Mr. Sheffield on The Nanny was a wonderful time and we did do a Nanny reunion show as a special on Lifetime. I’m not sure whether there is much point in trying to re-create something so special that existed at a particular time and place in all our lives. But you never know….perhaps : The Nanny – The Musical!!! 🙂
Mitt freundlichen Grüßen,Charlie